26.02.2015—The presidential candidate of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) General Muhammadu Buhari spoke earlier today at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House, London to a room packed with British politicians, diplomats, journalists and a wide cross-section of Nigerians.
Former British High Commissioner to Nigeria and Chair for the event, Sir Richard Gozney introduced General Buhari to the audience as “a man of modesty, unusual for a Nigerian politician, and having clarity of thoughts and speech.”
His 25-minute speech, titled Prospects for Democratic Consolidation in Africa: Nigeria’s Transition, focused on the postponed Nigerian elections, the need for its credibility and transparency and its implications for democracy across Africa.
“It is in our collective interests that the postponed elections should hold on the rescheduled dates; that they should be free and fair; that their outcomes should be respected by all parties; and that any form of extension, under whichever guise, is unconstitutional and will not be tolerated,” he said.
He also reassured his audience of his democratic views and of his belief that the spread of democracy around the world since the end of the Cold War has shown him that it was another path to change and a preferable one than military rule.
He also added that democracy was not just about allowing people to choose their leaders, but that it should also deliver on the promise of choice, of freedoms, of security of lives and property, of transparency and accountability, of rule of law, of good governance and of shared prosperity.
He reiterated his commitment to end the raging insurgency in the North-East by defeating the Islamist terror group, Boko Haram which has killed about 13,000 people in 5 years and taken control of territory. “Let me assure you – if I am elected president, the world has no cause to worry about Nigeria as it is currently,” he said.
He concluded by taking responsibility for the events under his watch as military Head of State and stated that while he could not change the past, he desires to change the present and the future.
“Let me say without sounding defensive that dictatorship goes with military rule, though some might be less dictatorial than others. I take responsibility for whatever happened under my watch. I cannot change the past. But I can change the present and the future. So before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms and is subjecting himself to the rigours of democratic elections for the fourth time.”