By ISMAILA CHAFE
ABUJA- President Muhammadu Buhari in the course of the week described football as ”our passion and a major tool for unity.”
According to him, football remains the number one sport in Nigeria and a national asset, saying that his administration will resist any attempt to undermine its development.
Buhari stated this when he received the 10-year Football Development Master Plan submitted by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said: ”It is the responsibility of the government to safeguard the sport, which had brought Nigeria many laurels, and treat it as a national asset.
”Indeed, just as I expect and demand a higher standard of patriotism, responsibility and commitment from those charged with the administration of our football.”
On the same day, the president also hosted the Indian Minister of State, External and Parliamentary Affairs, Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, recollecting his one-year training in the country as a military officer.
The Nigerian leader, who received the Indian minister in the State House Abuja, recalled his 1973 visit to India.
“it was a very good experience. I think I was a Lt.-Col. then, and I spent a year in India.
“We traveled and met people from different countries. It became part of my success story in the military,” Buhari said.
The Presidency equally condemned The Guardian Newspaper’s editorial calling for the impeachment of Buhari.
Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s media aide made the condemnation in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
The presidential aide frowned at the way and manner the newspaper had taken up the role of regular antagonist and political opponent of the president and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The president also reacted to the cold-blooded murder of a Yobe-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Goni Aisami, directing Military authorities to flush out all those elements in the army with criminal tendencies.
Aisami was murdered by a callous soldier he had offered a lift as confirmed by the Police.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian army had already dismissed the two erring soldiers, John Gabriel and Adamu Gideon, for their alleged involvement in the killing of Aisami.
The acting commander officer in charge of army’s 241 Recce Battalion in Nguru, Ibrahim Osabo, told newsmen on Saturday that a joint board of inquiry set up in collaboration with the police found the soldiers guilty.
Osabo said the affected soldiers were dismissed on a two-count charge of failure to perform duties and conduct prejudice to service discipline.
Buhari also on Tuesday condoled with residents in towns and villages affected by flooding across the country.
According to him, the Federal Government will keep sending teams to assess the situation with a view to rendering all necessary help.
He expressed concern over the hardships being faced by people due to this natural calamity.
Buhari reiterated his unwavering commitment to support and campaign for only candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming 2023 General Elections.
The president made his position known in a statement by his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to Buhari, he remains a “disciplined soldier” of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and will, in all the coming elections, support only those candidates fielded by the party and no other.
The Nigerian leader also warned defected party members and some others who are still in court against official candidates of the APC that they were on their own and ”nobody outside the party should link what they are doing to him.”
NAN reports that already the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had hailed Buhari’s decision to only support candidates of the party in the upcoming 2023 elections.
Tinubu praised the president while speaking in Abuja as he received APC national working committee (NWC) members at the Tinubu/Shettima campaign office on Saturday.
He described Buhari as a bold, strong leader for taking the stand.
On Wednesday, Buhari presided over the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the State House, Abuja.
NAN reports that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo also joined the meeting physically for the first time since he underwent surgery following an injury he sustained while playing squash.
Osinbajo, who underwent surgical operation on July 16, at the Duchess International Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, had been attending FEC meetings virtually from his official residence in Abuja while recuperating from the surgery.
The council approved N43.6 billion for construction and reconstruction of roads in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe and Bauchi states.
It also approved N11.1 billion for the reconstruction of an intra-city road in Lagos State, and N718 million for security services and surveillance of the Abuja light rail transportation.
He also congratulated the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar 111, on his 66th birthday on Wednesday, joining family members, friends and Muslim Ummah in celebrating with the spiritual leader.
He noted with delight that the Sultan had continued to champion the cause of peace and unity in the country by regularly counselling institutions, professionals and public servants to abide by acceptable standards.
The president hosted Mr Holm Keller, the Executive Chairman of KENUP Foundation and representative of the CEO of BioNTech, the mRNA vaccine patent holder, in Africa, on Thursday in Abuja.
At the meeting, Buhari welcomed the exploratory interactions, between Nigerian biomedical scientists, officials of the Federal Ministry of Health and BioNTech company, to support the production of messenger RNA vaccines in Nigeria.
He expressed confidence that the interactions between the parties would be productive, leading to collaborations at many levels.
This will be from clinical trials to research and development of new vaccines and eventually support vaccine manufacturing facilities in the country.
The president concluded the week on Saturday by extending sympathies for the sea-like flooding of Pakistan, the worst natural disaster in the country’s history.
Floods had damaged half-a-million homes, affecting about 30 million people, killing above 1,000.
The floods had washed away hundreds of roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
According to the Nigerian leader, Pakistan and its population were in the thoughts and prayers of Nigerians as they confront this humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.
He appealed to the United Nations and other Aid Agencies to take urgent steps to assist people without shelter and food, as well as the millions who required urgent humanitarian relief. (NAN)