Former military Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari has finally declared his intention to vie for the 2015 presidency on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).
The three-time contender for the presidency of the country, while declaring his interest in Abuja also restated his belief in the efficacy of adopting a consensus arrangement to decide which aspirant should fly the APC flag at the presidential election. Buhari, who addressed a gathering of various youth support groups from around the country in Abuja yesterday, said he would make himself available for nomination alongside other aspirants of the party.
“With your support, I intend to offer myself for the position of the president of the republic on the platform of our great party. I intend to make a formal announcement soon,” he said.
With his declaration of interest, Buhari would be making his fourth attempt at winning the presidency, having contested thrice in the past and lost.
Speaking on what he and the opposition party have in stock for Nigerians, Buhari said: “We shall develop this land and go after prosperity and get it for our long-suffering people.”
Buhari, who lamented government’s failings in the area of security and the fight against corruption, said if elected president, his government would be accountable and honest.
He said the only way to bring about meaningful change in the country is to vote the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of power to which it was never legitimately elected.
Buhari, whose supporters were blamed for allegedly taking to violent protests following the outcome of the 2011 presidential election, cautioned the youth support groups to always accept results as pronounced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to him, APC had risen to become a formidable and credible opposition party with solid support in every part of the country, adding that the APC had made all necessary preparations to take PDP out of office, “and we will give PDP a good run for their money”.
“Not only must you not take the law into your hands, no matter the level of provocation, you must be able to expose those planning to do so before they act.
“I know that it is painful for you to see votes you cast being disregarded and votes illegally thumb printed being accepted, punted to rig out the choice that you have legitimately and conclusively made.
“And it is even more painful when you know that the road to remedy has been firmly shut in your face, for you are always called on to accept a judgment whose justice you cannot see, whose logic is flawed and whose facts speak against itself,” he said.
The former head of state however assured party members of the preparedness of APC to checkmate rigging, saying: “It has put in place mechanisms that will permanently put an end to rigging in this country.” Buhari told the youth groups that their support must go beyond back his candidacy to giving their votes for all the party’s candidates.
On the issue of modalities for the party’s primaries, Buhari told journalists, who spoke to him shortly after the event that he preferred the consensus option rather than the modified direct primaries.
“It is the primaries that will determine who eventually represents the party and in which capacity. If I get the party’s nomination, I will redouble my efforts and commitment until we clinch the presidency.
“But in the event that it happens to be one of the other aspirants who wins, I will be expected as a good party man to extend to him my total support. We are a united party and united we shall remain, because our strength lies in our unity,” he said.
He enjoined his supporters not to engage in any action that could lead to conflict and rancour within the party, as that would mean playing into the hands of the opponents.
“I must warn all my supporters, volunteers and other well-wishers within the party or even out of it, not to insult or be rude to any other aspirant or party leader on my behalf.
“My supporters must not engage in any kind of behaviour or conduct that will tarnish the image of any leader or promote division and rancour within the ranks of the party. Whoever does that should know that he or she is working for the enemy,” Buhari said.
He also urged his supporters to be vigilant before, during and immediately after the elections even if rigged, so that sponsored hoodlums are not made to commit illegalities that would in the end be blamed on them.
He said Nigerians have the choice to vote for the kind of leaders they want.
Also addressing the gathering, an APC chieftain, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, queried the rationale for having former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, challenge Buhari for the opposition party’s ticket when they had once hobnobbed with the PDP and had benefited significantly from the misrule of the party.
He also described Kwakwaso as an Obasanjo boy, who would do everything possible to protect his mentor’s interest if he assumes power to the detriment of the national interest.
While welcoming the support groups, the Director General of Buhari Support Centre, Umaru Damno, said the group stands for good governance, credibility and integrity.
He said the reason for bringing together the groups was to ensure proper coordination of all the support organisations.
He explained that a department had been established within the Buhari Campaign Organisation, where all the activities of the support groups would be coordinated.
Former President of Nigerian Students, Daniel Onje, also dismissed the perception that Buhari is a religious bigot, and described the appellation as the handiwork of those who want to continue to keep Nigeria down and divided.
He said the only person that can take the country out of the woods is Buhari.
According to him, the biggest problem confronting Nigeria is corruption, adding that of all the presidential aspirants only Buhari can fight the scourge.
Former interim Women’s Leader of APC, Shanon Chinazor, also extolled the qualities and capabilities of Buhari to lead the country to greater heights.
Some of the youth groups numbering about 48, which participated in yesterday’s event under the umbrella of the Buhari Support Centre, included the Buhari Vanguard, APC National Grassroots Mobilisation, APC Support Group, South/East Support Group, APC Youths Circuit and Buhari Youths Frontier.