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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said Nigerians would respect Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, and Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State for defecting to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Buhari spoke at the State House while receiving Ayade and Matawalle, who recently defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The new APC members were accompanied to the event by the Chairman Caretaker Committee of the Party and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni; Gov Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, who is Chairman of Progressives Governors Forum; and Governor Muhammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State.
Buhari handed the flags of the party to the two Governors and raised their hands aloft as a sign of welcoming them into the party.
A statement quoted Buhari as saying: “This is one of the happiest times for us in this party. For you to have the courage to leave your consistencies speak a lot. I wish Nigerians will reflect about it.
“I congratulate you for leaving your consistencies for our great party. We lost many states at the last election, which is unusual for a ruling party. But we did it to prove that we are a tolerant group. We wanted to demonstrate that we respect individuals.
“We emphasized that we respect our people. That was why we insisted on free and fair elections. Leaders should show honesty and respect for their followers.”
Buhari added that the coming of the two governors to APC was very important to the party.
He said: “To be principled and identify your objectives is a great quality that should endear us to our people. Your people will respect you more for having the courage to come to APC at your own time. Nobody forced you, but you believe it is the best way to serve your people. I value your decision.”