The Presidency, on Sunday, said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) either lacked understanding of presidential movements or was being mischievous by saying that President Muhammadu Buhari should have travelled by road to Gusau rather than cancel his trip over bad weather.
President Buhari, who was in Sokoto on Thursday, was supposed to proceed to Gusau for a condolence visit to the people over recent deadly terrorist attacks, but had to call it off citing poor weather conditions.
The PDP had mocked the ruling party, suggesting that the president might have been afraid of terrorists.
But in its response, the Presidency in a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, maintained that as a party that was in power for 16 years, the PDP ought to know the workings of presidential movements.
It said: “Criticism of the president, in particular the one by the PDP, for not proceeding with the journey, Sokoto-Gusau by road, a distance of about 200 kilometres, shows either a lack of understanding of presidential movements, especially for a party that held that office for 16 years, or an act that smacks of mischief.
“Whatever be the case, there must be a limit to trivialisation. All over the world, Commanders – in – Chief, serving or even those that have left office, cannot hop into a car and go anywhere they want at any time of the day. In the United States for instance, a law going as far back as 1958 prevents past presidents from traveling on public roads without assured security (how much more of serving presidents).
“When roads are closed for presidential movements here and elsewhere, consideration is also given to the safety of other road users, not just that of the president or even governor.
“The statement on the issue by the PDP attacking the president for not making it to Gusau without this being planned ahead of the journey is shameful and disgraceful for a party that held the presidency of the country in the past. What is their own record?
“It is sad for the country that the bankruptcy of issues has forced the PDP, so-called leading opposition party, to hang on to life by only telling lies. And their caravan of falsehood has moved even more speedily following the inauguration of their not-so-new national executive at the end of last year.
“It is equally important that local political actors who have seized upon the cancellation of the visit to describe it as a victory for this or that faction of the party, accompanied by songs, lyrics and videos to know that their joy is a short lived one. As he promised in that broadcast, the visit to Gusau by the president is only a matter of time. Given the right conditions of the weather and all other things, he will return, and in time to accomplish his mission.”
The Presidency elaborated on the reasons why the president could not continue on the journey to Gusau, saying the visibility was below the required minimum for landing.
The statement explained: “The Presidency wishes to give further clarification on the circumstances of bad weather which forced the cancellation of the visit to Zamfara State on Thursday of President Muhammadu Buhari in spite of the great interest generated nationwide on the planned visit.
“As briefly explained by the president in a special broadcast to the people of the state, the sudden deterioration of the weather was the sole and only reason for the cancellation of the visit. It is not unusual for flights to get cancelled when there is bad weather, whether this is arising from wind or rainstorm, fog or haze as we had it on Thursday over much of the northern towns, including Gusau, capital of Zamfara State.
“Many of these cities are known to suffer from low visibility during the harmattan season as we are now in. A kilometre of visibility is usually a standard landing minimum requirement, but in the case of Gusau on the day in question, this minimum requirement of 1,000 meter was down, fluctuating between 300-400 meters.
“Clearly, this was unsafe in the absence of precise instrument approaches that provide guidance for the pilots. The flights into Gusau were, in view of this, cancelled.”
In its statement on Friday, the main opposition party had rejected the reason of poor weather given for the cancellation of the trip, saying that if President Buhari meant
meant well, he could have made the journey by road from Sokoto to Gusau.
The PDP had said: “We ask, did Mr. President cancel the trip to Zamfara State out of fear of terrorists? Was Mr. President, an Army General, with all the security apparatus under his command afraid to travel by road because he was not sure of his security as well as the dilapidated state of our roads under his watch?
“From Sokoto to Gusau, the Zamfara State capital is about 206 kilometers, a journey a leader who has the interest of the people at heart and who is sure of his security could have undertaken by road.”