The Presidency yesterday berated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for exhibiting what it called lack of understanding of presidential movement schedules, despite running the Federal Government for 16 years under the current civilian dispensation.
The Presidency was reacting to the main opposition’s criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s inability to keep a date with his scheduled visit to Zamfara State last Thursday, following bad weather.
The PDP had criticized the cancellation of the Zamfara visit, despite the explanation by the Presidency on why it was not practicable, suggesting that the President chickened out for security reasons.
The main opposition had also said President Buhari could have travelled by road for the visit.
But in a statement yesterday in Abuja by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the Presidency said: “Criticism of the President, in particular the one by the opposition 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 for the safety of other road users, not just that of the President or even a 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 short-lived. 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 also provided further insight into why it was not practicable for the President to have proceeded with the journey.
, the Presidency said the haze that took the airspace on the day of the planned journey was far lower than the standard visibility requirement of 1,000 metres.
“The Presidency wishes to give a 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 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 metres was down, fluctuating between 300 and 400 metres. 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,” the statement said.