Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari stormed the most populous state in the north on Wednesday in a two-day visit that appeared to be the launch of his re-election campaign.
The visit, witnessed by an unprecedented crowd of admirers, came days after the former vice president, Mr. Atiku Abubakar, said Mr. Buhari has failed and would be defeated should he decide to contest again in February 2019.
In Kano, Mr. Buhari reaffirmed that prison reforms and decongestion will be pursued with greater vigor by his administration, his office said in a statement to Today News Africa in Washington, D.C.
Speaking at a ceremony in Kurmawa Central Prison Kano, where 500 inmates were either pardoned or set free upon the payment of fines by the State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, President Buhari lamented that some of the freed inmates were young.
He charged prison authorities to double their effort to ensure former prisoners are well reintegrated into the society.
President Buhari pledged that prisons reforms and decongestion would continue to receive prompt attention from his administration.
The President stressed the need for prisoners to receive proper care, support and rehabilitation to make them better citizens after serving their prisons terms.
“I am pleased with this visit and I have learnt a bit more about the conditions of the prisons and inmates.
“This building in front of us was built since 1910. Rehabilitation of prisoners and training of inmates is very important to us and we would continue to invest more on this.
“I asked one of the inmates (released) how old he was and he told me he is only 19 years old.
“If we have people of 18 and 19 years in the prison, and there is no continuous training, then their lives will be completely destroyed. We will invest more in education and vocational training,’’ Mr. Buhari was quoted as saying, according to the statement released by a spokesman Garba Shehu.
The 500 inmates granted pardon, including men and women, were drawn from various prisons in Kano state, including Kurmawa prisons, which has 1,398 inmates as opposed to 750, the established capacity.
Earlier, the President who arrived Kano to a tumultuous welcome by the Government and people of the State at the start of a two-day state visit paid homage to the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.
At the Emir’s place, President Buhari recounted his fond memories of Kano, as a symbol of peace, trade, commerce and industry in Nigeria.
‘‘If there is a problem here, the whole country has a problem. I remember the industry and employment people get in Kano.
‘‘Before the problem in the North East, I remember the number of articulated vehicles that leave this city to Maiduguri and the Cameroons, and the number of vehicles that come in from Chad and Niger, providing millions of jobs to Nigerians.
‘‘A lot of people in Nigeria didn’t realise how much the instability in the North East have cost the people and the industry here ’’ he said.
President Buhari, therefore, assured all Nigerians that the fight against the degraded Boko Haram will be sustained, in addition to the positive trends in the economy and the fight against corruption.
‘‘The three things we said in our campaign on security, economy and fighting corruption, nobody will be able to successfully disabuse the minds of Nigerians on our clear intentions for our country and our people,’’ the President declared.