Residents of the North-East zone on Friday celebrated the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from the United Kingdom, describing him as their ‘hero’ for restoring peace to their sub-region.
While some of them celebrated wildly, others offered prayers, thanking God for granting their wish to see the president back home, hale and hearty.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that as a sign of the desperation, some had long ago composed music, awaiting Buhari’s return, which melody rented the air on Friday in Damaturu, the Yobe capital.
In Maiduguri, the once-upon-a-time centre of insurgency, a cross section of the residents interviewed said they were delighted by his return.
“I am very happy to hear the good news about the return of the president; we missed him for quite some time now,” said Malam Jubrin Gunda, a legal practitioner.
Gunda said that Buhari had become a hero in the North-East for bringing relative peace to the sub-region.
“Buhari is the hero of our time because he gave us peace in Borno and the North-East in general.
“You can imagine what will have happened to us here if Buhari had not assumed leadership of the country in 2015,” he said.
Gunda, who is also the Secretary of the prominent vigilante group in Borno, the ‘Civilian JTF’, said the recovery of the president was due to the prayers of the people.
“We are happy that God has answered our prayers by healing him; we will continue to pray for him to succeed in his crusade to make Nigeria a better place,” he added.
Mrs Yagana Bakura, a bean cake seller, re-echoed similar sentiment, stressing that majority of the people were behind Buhari.
“We were disturbed after he failed to come back early, got more confused when we heard rumors that he was very ill, so we began prayers all over; thank God that the prayers have been answered,” Bakura said.
In Yola the return of President Buhari dominated discussions, with workers and other members of the public seen in groups discussing in excitement, his return back home.
“I heard it on the media and was excited when I saw him alighting from the plane; it is good to see the president back, after speculations about his health,” Hussaini Danjuma, a civil servant, said.
Danjuma urged Nigerians to continue to pray for the president and his team to succeed.
Mr Luka Yakubu, a shop owner, said that the return of Buhari was breaking news to him and many others.
“It came to me as a pleasant surprise and I hope the development will bring to an end, the lingering debate on Buhari’s health,” he said.
Mallam Haruna Musa, a vendor, said many people were happy with the development and kept coming to ask him for newspapers with the story of Buhari’s return.
“We are expecting bumper sales tomorrow when the papers will carry the details and pictures of the president arrival”, Musa said.
For some youth in Bauchi, their delight knew no bounds as they organised rallies along some major roads in the state capital
Some of them who spoke to NAN expressed relief that God had answered the prayers of majority of Nigerians on the health of their leader.
One of them, Mansur Ibrahim, said the return of Buhari was worthy of celebration.
Mrs Aisha Musa, a food seller, said the rally was paramount to residents, adding that the absence of the president and the “dangerous rumour peddled by some disgruntled elements,” had instilled fear in the minds of the citizens.
Gombe residents, among them, a member of Shiite sect, expressed gratitude to God for the safe return of President Buhari.
Speaking to NAN in Gombe on Friday, leaders of some Christian and Muslim groups said they became excited when they received the news of his arrival at the Kaduna Airport in the early hours of Friday.
Mr Musa Misal, North-East Zonal Vice President, Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said the Christian faithful had been praying for his good health and safe return so that he would “complete the good work he started”.
Malam Ibrahim Yusuf, Assistant Public Relations Officer, Rasulul Azam Foundation, a Shiite Islamic sect in Gombe, said they thanked God over the positive development.
“Our foundation declared one week prayer and fasting for the president and now God has answered our prayers; we are grateful to Him (God),” he said.
He urged the general public to always pray for leaders instead of criticizing them.
Rambi Ayala (PDP), member representing Billiri East constituency at the Gombe state House of Assembly, said they were happy because the President was back in the country to continue with the development projects he had started.
“We will continue to support him to achieve the desired goals for the betterment of the people”, he said.
Fatima Ibrahim, a house wife, said today was her happiest day, and would remain so for some time.
In Yobe, prayers were offered in mosques across Damaturu, the state capital on Friday over the safe return of President Buhari to the country.
Residents of the metropolis had been playing music earlier composed in anticipation of the President’s return.
Ustaz Hudu Muhammad, Chief Imam of Yobe Central Mosque, urged faithful to show their gratitude to God for the recovery of the president.
“A true Muslim is expected to pray for the sick and weak; it is most unfortunate to wish anyone dead, the life of every man is in the hands of his creator” he said.