When Buhari Stormed Abuja For His Presidential Declaration
General Muhammadu Buhari last Wednesday in Abuja officially declared for the presidential race when he unfolded a-nine point agenda to rescue Nigeria if emerged the candidate of his party and eventually elected the president amid an unprecedented crowd at the Eagle Square, venue of the historic event.
The declaration programme was witnessed by many bigwigs of the party, such as Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State who spoke on behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors; Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State; Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State; Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomole; the Senate Minority Whip, Senator George Akume who led others like Senators Oluremi Tinubu, Babafemi Ojudu, and Gbenga Asafa; former speaker, Aminu Masari; former FCT minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai; Mallam Sanni Soro; Senator Kanti Bello; Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; former Bayelsa State governor, Timipreye Silvia; Chief Audu Ogbeh; Engineer Babachi David Lawal, and a host of others.
As early as 9.00am, the Eagle Square had been filled to its capacity with Buhari’s supporters from all works of life and every state was fully represented.
The presence of these bigwigs and their goodwill messages have been unsettling some members of the party who are thinking probably Buhari is the party’s choice, especially the presence of the highly-influential political leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The party also has eminent Nigerians who are in the same race with General Buhari. On this list are former vice president, Atiku Abubakar; Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, the founding chairman of Leadership Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah; Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and some who are yet to declare their interest.
Security operatives had a tough time controlling the large crowd at the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of his presidential ambition for the 2015 general elections.
The crowd at the event overstretched the security operatives from the police, civil defence, Department of State Security, Federal Road Safety Corps and a host of others, especially when there was a near stampede as the supporters began shouting in frenzy when the general arrived at the venue.
The colourful event had some side attractions like several groups that came to campaign for their candidates for positions ranging from that of governors to senators and so on. They danced around the square with posters showing dual pictures of Buhari and their candidates, beating drums and flutes to indicate their candidates’ intentions. Different songs were rendered in various languages at the event and various cultural troupes also performed.
Among those who paid glowing tribute to General Buhari included but not limited to Audu Ogbeh who read his abridged rich profile of the aspirant, Timpreye Silvia who introduced the essence of the event and asked his kinsman President Goodluck Jonathan to get ready to pack his belongings from the State House as a new occupant would be there next year May 29. Also, Senator Olorunnmbe Mamora spoke on behalf of the elders of the party, while Senator Akume spoke on behalf of APC National Assembly Caucus.
In his address, Buhari paid tribute to Nigerians, “who are enduring all sorts of hardships and deprivations on a daily basis. Many millions are grappling with extreme poverty and barely eking out a living,” he said, noting that nearly all “are in fear of their lives or safety for themselves and their families due to insurgency by the godless movement called Boko Haram, by marauding murderers in towns and villages, by armed robbers on the highways, and by kidnappers who have put whole communities to fright and sometimes to flight.”
He commended the efforts of the military in the counter-insurgency operations going on in the northeast. “I would like us to place on record, our appreciation for the efforts of our Armed Forces under new leadership and police in confronting these challenges”.
Speaking further, he added that, “secondly, to thank our supporters up and down the country for their perseverance and resolve in face of an oppressive PDP government”.
The former head of state formally declared with 23 words when he said, “I humbly wish to present myself before you, before all of Nigeria, and before God, seeking to be elected as APC’s presidential candidate.”
According to him, “Having appreciated that the only way to relieve Nigerians of the PDP, the main opposition parties decided to pool their strengths into one party. We have worked very hard in the last 18 months to put up structures from the polling units to wards, local governments, states and the centre.
“We have tried to ensure all processes in our party formation to be transparent and credible. These structures will lead to free and fair polls. There is no point in holding elections if they are not free and fair.”
Buhari described alleged rigging by the ruling party as the worst injustice in the polity. “Interference in the form of rigging which PDP government has practised since 2003 is the worst form of injustice – denying people their right to express their opinions. Whether they like it or not, injustice cannot endure.”
He noted that “since 1999, PDP has presided over our country’s decline. Nigeria in my experience has never been so divided, so polarised by an unthinking government hell bent on ruling and stealing forever whatever befalls the country. Mr Chairman, we in APC are resolved to stop them in their tracks and rescue Nigeria from the stranglehold of PDP.”
According to him, “The last 16 years of PDP government has witnessed decline in all critical sectors of life in Nigeria. There is now general insecurity in the land. Apart from Boko Haram, there is prevalence of armed robbery, kidnappings and killings, cattle rustling, market and farmland arson.”
Continuing, he said, “These outrages have taken a new and frightening dimension, disrupting economic and social life across whole communities. The economy continues to deteriorate; while the government continues to announce fantastic growth figures, but manufacturing is down, agriculture is down, commerce is down.”
He accused the ruling party of stealing the oil money and of doctoring figures to fool the people as a cover-up.
He then rolled out what could be described as a nine-point agenda that he promised would get the country out of its woes.
“We in APC are resolve to bring change to Nigeria. We plan to do things differently. We plan to put priority on – protection of lives and property; pursuing economic policies for shared prosperity and immediate attention on youth employment; quality education for development, modernity and social mobility; agricultural productivity for taking millions out of poverty and ensuring food security; reviving industry to generate employment and ‘make things’ not just to remain hawkers of other peoples’ goods; developing solid minerals exploitation, which will substantially attract employment and revenue for government; restoring honour and integrity to public service by keeping the best and attracting the best; tackling corruption which has become blatant and widespread. (The rest of the world looks at Nigeria as the home of corruption. Nigeria is a country where stealing is not corruption); and last (but not the least or final), respecting the constitutional separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary, and respecting the rights of citizens.”
The whole of Abuja’s central district was jam-packed with crowds from near and far, due to the event, leading to traffic gridlocks for hours in the capital city.
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