The Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari at the weekend met with presidential aspirants drawn from all political parties with a plea on the aspirants to adopt women as their running mates in the forthcoming 2023 presidential poll.
This was just as one of the aspirants including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, called on fellow aspirants to imbibe doctrine of politics without bitterness and ensure unity among themselves.
The First Lady, who hosted the aspirants to Iftar (breaking of fast) at the State House, Abuja, also urged political parties to reserve certain percentage of contestable offices for women.
According to her, considering the voting strength and involvement of women in politics, they should be adopted as running mates in the forthcoming elections.
“In fact, it is high time women were adopted as running mates at all levels, considering their voting strength and active involvement in political processes.
“As we approach the 2023 elections with greater hope, I am confident that Nigeria will continue to grow from strength to strength on the pedestal of our democratic tenets,” she added.
Mrs. Buhari also encouraged the aspirants to ensure that the forthcoming elections are fair and free.
According to her, the 2015 presidential election, which her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, won “was neither contested in the court of law, nor in the court of public opinion.
She said: “Therefore, the greatest end-of-tenure gift that fellow Nigerians can give to the first family is another free and globally-acknowledged fair election come 2023″.
In their goodwill messages, the aspirants urged politicians to avoid politics of acrimony, but rather remember that they do not have any other nation outside Nigeria, even as they called on aspirants to be courageous enough to accept defeat, while also being magnanimous in victory.
Osinbajo who was represented by former Governor of Edo state, Oserheimen Osunbor, also described the gathering as, “symbolic” for creating unity, urging all the aspirants to always strive to foster unity amongst Nigerians to contribute towards building the nation.
According to him: “The aspirants should learn to practice politics without bitterness and imbibe the spirit of oneness. It is not going to be a do or die affair and it should not be.”
On his part, Ngige, called for unity among aspirants, adding that, “If anybody tells you that the way we are playing politics now is the best, it is not true. We have to do a rethink. We need unity, God knows who will take it”.
Also speaking, Bauchi state Governor, Bala Mohammed, described the gathering as historic, saying it was only the First Lady, “that could bring me here today.”
He commended Mrs. Buhari for her motherly roles in uniting Nigerians, adding that “being patient has made you to stand out.”
Speaking on his ambition, Mohammed said, “I am not saying I am the best, as some of the best are yet to come out. I assure you that I will make sure that we do our game of politicking putting Nigeria first.”
In his remarks, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, commended the First Lady for the well thought out program that attracted people of diverse political backgrounds, saying, “it should be all about our nation and patriotism. We should put our nation above ourselves. This kind of gathering is going to douse hate speeches. We have to have Nigeria first. This will foster greater unity and put Nigeria first”.
Another presidential aspirant, Tein Jack-Rich, urged the young people to join politics to turn around situations “that have held the nation captive, so that we can become voice for the voice less.”
According to him, “the destiny of Nigeria is in the hands of all Nigerians, but everything you do is in the hands of future Nigerians.
“The youths will not be used this time around to snatch ballot boxes this time. If anybody want to win elections, you have got to come to the youth.”
Also speaking, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, urged the aspirants not to neglect the North-west.
The governor who noted that “Nigeria is at crossroads,” added that, “we need people with experience. I must stress the importance of the north-west zone. Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, if you want to succeed, come and talk to us in the north-west zone.”
On her part, Wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, described the gathering as another opportunity by the First Lady to display her motherly love and engender peaceful electioneering process ahead of the 2023 general elections
“We are witness to your exemplary conduct, your large heart and endless display of love for mankind. We see you today, we see your love and like a mother, you have left no one behind. Nigerians are proud of you, the women are proud of you,” she said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Special Adviser to the First Lady on Media, Mallam Sani Zorro, while describing Iftar, as an established tradition at the State House, said First Lady, is the First Lady of all Nigerians, not just the First Lady of the ruling party, therefore, “the need to host all aspirants across political parties.”
“This Iftar is organised to provide opportunities for all aspirants to rub minds and promote the idea of permanent national interest especially in the eve of elections. It is used to forgive one another of both the intentional and unintentional mistakes,” he added.