Two governors from neighbouring Niger Republic have arrived Kano to campaign for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari.
Issa Moussa of Zinder Region and Zakiri Umar of Maradi arrived Kano to campaign for Mr Buhari’s reelection. They dressed in ‘babanriga,’ a traditional attire, designed with APC campaign ornaments.
Salihu Tanko-Yakasai, a spokesperson for Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano, shared pictures his principal took with the two foreign governors as they prepared to receive Mr Buhari in Kano earlier on Thursday.
Mr Buhari had since arrived Kano to campaign for himself and other APC candidates in the general elections next month.
No sooner had Mr Tanko-Yakasai shared the pictures on Twitter than a flurry of critical comments began to trickle in, with many reactions pointing to peoples befuddlement.
The development comes barely days after both the presidency and the APC issued separate statements attacking Western diplomatic missions for expressing outrage over Mr Buhari’s suspension of Mr Onnoghen, an action widely deemed unconstitutional.
Mr Buhari himself did not say he followed the guidelines enumerated in the Constitution for the removal of a chief justice but said he acted on an order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, an auxiliary judicial panel under the presidency.
“This is clearly shocking and absurd,” Chris Ngwodo, a foreign affairs expert, told PREMIUM TIMES of the visit of the two Niger governors to Nigeria to campaign for Mr Buhari. “It is simply difficult to process and come to terms with this.”
Both Zinder and Maradi have proximity to northern parts of Nigeria from the south of Niger Republic.
Festus Keyamo, a spokesperson for Mr Buhari campaign, and Lanre Issa-Onilu, a spokesperson for the APC, were not immediately available for comments Thursday afternoon. Mr Tanko-Yakasai said he was too busy to respond to enquiries.
While the Niger governors’ visit to Nigeria for a political rally may appear strange, the Nigerian electoral law does not seem to have placed restrictions on foreigners hitting the campaign trail with candidates.
“The electoral law is only more pronounced about limits of campaign contributions from foreign elements,” according to Clement Nwankwo, a pro-democracy and electoral reform campaigner.
A similar incident played out in the United States in 2016 when British conservative politician, Nigel Farage, joined then-Republican Party candidate Donald Trump to campaign in the American elections.
The affair drew widespread condemnation, with many suggesting that it was abnormal in international diplomatic setting.
Still, Mr Nwankwo suggested that Mr Buhari and APC had by implication undermined their position against the January 26 statement issued by the United States, United Kingdom and European Union on Mr Onnoghen’s January 25 suspension.
A presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, had said the three Western diplomatic missions’ questioning of Mr Onnoghen’s suspension constituted an interference and threatened that Nigeria would raise its forces to assert its sovereignty.
Mr Nwankwo said the presidency’s condemnation of the West was hypocritical considering its past statements and actions on similar intervention by Westerners.
“Nigeria in early 2017 sent its troops to The Gambia to forcibly remove Yayah Jammeh if he did not concede defeat,” Mr Nwankwo said. “That alone should be enough to see the emptiness in their condemnation of other countries for issuing harmless statements about our constitutional order.”
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