• ‘You sell oil and steal part of the money…’ -Buhari
By James Obute
The political atmosphere was charged on Wednesday, 15 October when
former Head of State and National Leader of the opposition All
progressive Congress (APC), General Mohammed Buhari (rtd), formally
declared his intention to contest the 2015 presidential election.
Gen. Buhari’s declaration laid to rest the argument of whether he will
contest the general election in 2015 or not. However, the
unprecedented crowd Gen. Mohammed Buhari popularly called GMB
attracted, has thrown his rivals and political opponents into
confusion as the elections draw nearer. The opposition party has vowed
to stop the decline, corruption, polarization and rescue Nigeria from
the stronghold of the ruling PDP by 2015.
GMB, will contend with several other aspirants, including former Vice
President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso of Kano, and the
Publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah, in the primary of
Nigeria’s main opposition party, APC, on December 2 before facing PDP
in general election on February 14, 2015. Atiku Abubakar declared his
plan to run for president on the party’s ticket on September 24.
Governor Kwankwaso and Sam Nda-Isaiah will make bid known on October
23 and 28 respectively.
Declaring his intention, Buhari remarked: “I humbly wish to present
myself before you, before all of Nigeria and before God seeking to be
elected as APC’s Presidential candidate,” he said. He said “Since 1999
PDP has presided over our country’s decline. Nigeria in my experience
has never been so divided, so polarized 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, apart from the general insecurity in the land, power
outages had taken a frightening dimension while the economy continues
to deteriorate. “Apart from Boko Haram, there is prevalence of armed
robbery, kidnappings and killings, cattle rustling, market and
farmland arson. These outrages have taken a new and a frightening
dimension, disrupting economic and social life across the 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”, the no nonsense general
He said simply because “you sell oil and steal part of the money does
not entitle you to cook figures and announce phantom economic growth
when all the major indices namely employment, manufacturing, farming
and trading are demonstrably on the decline.”
GMB observed that when the PDP came to power in 1999, Nigeria was
generating about 4,000 M/W of electricity, but that after 15 years and
$20 billion spent it was generating only between 3,000 – 4,000
megawatts, stressing “no failure is more glaring than this.”
Buhari said if elected president by the next general election, his
administration would protect lives and property; pursue 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.
He said he would revive industry to generate employment; develop solid
minerals exploitation which will substantially attract employment and
revenue for government; restore honour and integrity to public service
by keeping the best and attracting the best; and tackle 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”, Buhari said.
He also assured that the APC administration would respect the
constitutional separation of powers between the executive, legislature
and judiciary as well as the rights of citizens.
Similarly, the Director General of Gen. Buhari Campaign Organization
and ex-National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Audu Ogbe,
said those calling Buhari a religious fanatic are not being fair to
Nigerians. Chief Ogbe who read the biography of GMB before welcoming
him to the podium to address the mammoth crowd at Eagles Square, Abuja
said Buhari, if he was a fanatic, himself, and Amaechi, Oshiomhole,
Oyegun who are all Christians will have nothing to do with him. He
said God brought everyone together for a reason. He described GMB as a
quiet and rational human who “had power but never abused it.”
Chief Audu Ogbe said Buhari is a man of unusual character who has to
run for office because Nigeria is in serious trouble -Terrorism in the
North East and high level corruption – which is being covered under
propaganda. “We send out greetings and sympathy to the people of the
North East and the parents of the Chibok girls.”We commend the
people behind the #BringBackOurGirls. We understand the government is
planning to take them to court, let the court room be large enough to
accommodate all of us,” Ogbe said. Ogbe said Nigeria is in
extra-ordinary condition that needs an extra-ordinary man like Buhari.
General Buhari was a Federal Commissioner for Petroleum; Chairman,
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; Governor of North-Eastern
State; Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces;
Chairman, Petroleum Trust Fund [PTF]; three-time presidential
candidate [twice for the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and once for
the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC]. This is his fourth time of
aspiring for president.
Chairman Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi
Amaechi speaking on behalf of other governors said change is in the
air. He said in the past whenever progressives have such gatherings
you hardly see any governor but that “today whenever APC have
gatherings, you see 14 governors, that is why I say change is in the
air,” Amaechi said. ”The other party doesn’t have any candidate like
Buhari, but if they have even half let them show us,” he said.
Amaechi said it was wrong for the PDP and the President to take credit
for the fight against Ebola. “Apart from announcing the number of
casualties, what have they done for us? Kano, Lagos and Rivers are not
in their hands, tell me how they will win. We will give them the Osun
treatment,” he said.
He also called on all APC members to make sure they have their voters
card so that “whoever emerges as our party candidate we will vote for
him.”. He recalled that President Jonathan said in 2013 that he was
the most abused president but that by the following year Nigerians
will dance and praise his name because they will have enough power.
“Are you praising him and do you have power?” Mr. Amaechi asked.
Speaking on behalf of the elders of APC, Senator Olorumimbe Mamora
said there is a wind of change that is blowing and that an idea whose
time has come, no one can stop it. He said there is no doubt that an
APC government will be in place next year. He said the country cannot
afford to continue with insecurity and economic deprivation. “We have
to work to achieve success,” he said.
Speaking, on behalf of lawmakers, former Governor of Benue State and
Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume said the National
Assembly had a very exciting session with General Buhari on Tuesday
night and asked Buhari how he will manage the Oil industry, adding
that if his response is relayed to the gathering “you will all weep
for this country”.
Senator Akume said APC is richly endowed with the great human
resources anyone can find in any part of the world. He said his point
is buttressed by the way various aspirants under the APC are
campaigning without recourse to abuses. “Difference without division,
rivalry in fellowship,” he said.
The former Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, while giving the
welcome address, said Nigeria’s economy today needs revamping. He
said security situation is in dire need of resuscitation and that the
over 200 girls from Chibok are still somewhere no one knows. He said
Nigeria’s problems are well known, but that there is good news because
the solution to Nigeria’s problems is at Eagle Square today, General
Muhammadu Buhari. He also said Buhari has occupied almost all cadres
of offices, but is running for office again because of Nigerians and
“We are very happy that he has decided to come out of retirement to
help us stabilise this country, so that the younger ones can carry on
with the development of this nation,” he said. For those who say
Buhari is too old, he said “we are not going to talk about age in this
campaign because we don’t want to be accused of using the inexperience
of our opponent. “Buhari brings experience and integrity to this
campaign. He is a man of the people today and he will be the president
of the People come 14 February 2015,” Mr. Sylva concluded.
Professor Isa Odidi speaking on behalf of APC members in the diaspora
said Nigeria is faced with extra ordinary circumstances and there is
the need for an extra ordinary leader to solve them. He said GMB
epitomises the qualities of an extra ordinary leader and urged “all
Nigerians to take back your country”.
Blanket Endorsement for a Confused Candidate
As the 2015 election season draws near, political bargains, horse
trading and intrigues are playing out vigorously, heralding the basic
tenets of democratic indices and practices and in some instances
negating them in a most distasteful manner. As a result of that
Nigerians are currently witnessing an unprecedented orgy of frenzied
endorsement of candidates already serving as either legislator or
chief executives of various governments. That was coming even as there
was widespread disillusionment and general discontentment with most of
the political office holders and major political activists.
Various state chapters of the ruling PDP have met separately to pass a
vote of confidence on their governors, urging them to re-contest their
positions and were assured boundless and illimitable support. While
that epidemic of outright backing for the incumbent first-term
governors was progressing unabated, the PDP Governors Forum announced
its unequivocal endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan as sole
candidate for the party’s National Convention in October during which
that decision would be wholeheartedly approved by delegates at the
sham presidential primaries.
Similarly, in a swift, surprising move, the PDP Board of Trustees, the
National Working Committee and the influential National Executive
Committee had, in a quick succession, toed the line of the dominant
and influential governors.
President Jonathan, who is yet to make public his intention to
re-contest, was extremely excited and exhilarated by that development
and thanked the broad spectrum of his party’s leadership for giving
him the right of first refusal in terms of presidential ticket for the
As it is, President Jonathan has been given an automatic ticket to
contest on the platter of gold as had earlier been promised by Mr. Fix
It, the unassailable Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony
Now, whether or not President Jonathan is entitled to that privilege
remains to be seen, for it could be a subject of litigation whenever
he expresses his intention to run. The issue of automatic ticket is
now putting the party’s serving senators and the incumbent governors
on a war path over the automatic ticket agreement reached between them
and President Jonathan.
In June this year Tony Anenih urged the party to adopt a principle of
automatic tickets to all deserving political office holders of the
party so as to avoid the rancorous primaries that always threaten to
tear the party apart. Nevertheless, Chief Olisa Mentuh has said that
the automatic ticket accorded President Jonathan is not extended to
the governors, senators, federal and state legislators and that may
just bring about ill feelings in the already sour relationship between
the governors and the senators.
It was revealed that the endorsement of President Jonathan as sole
candidate for presidential primaries by the PDP Governors Forum was
not unconditional. It was hinged on the anticipation that all
first-term governors should be given automatic tickets in next year’s
gubernatorial contests; all second-term governors should also
determine who shall succeed them and be given automatic tickets also
to run as senators in their respective constituencies while those who
may not want to go to the Senate would be made ministers.
However, the senatorial tickets expected for the second-term governors
would seriously jeopardize the interest of senators who have been
absolutely loyal to the party. For that reason, therefore, many state
governors and serving senators are trapped in that intractable
conflict, and that may eventually cause the implosion or violent
explosion of the Africa’s political behemoth.
It is to be realized that the action of the PDP leadership in
assenting Jonathan’s sole candidature did not go well in many quarters
especially as it has been interpreted as a negation of the tenets of
democracy which clearly indicated that the ruling party lacked
internal democracy. Many Nigerians were clearly appalled by that
impulsive decision to grant an automatic second-term ticket to a
president whose uneventful and lackluster tenure inflicted hardship
and misery on his people.
By so doing the PDP has actually confirmed the widespread belief that
there is no internal democracy in the way and manner Nigerian
political parties are organized. Its action has also lent credence to
the contention of some cynics that our democracy is being redefined,
That was why the proposed illegal deal between the PDP governors and
the President for insulating them from probe by the EFCC, or for the
adjustment and interchange of positions, is most disturbing. That is
why Nigerians must resolve to fight corruption by rejecting byproducts
of dishonest deals at the polls.
The PDP leaders should realize that ultimately their candidates,
anointed by their selfish and inconsiderate leaders, have to slug it
out with the candidates of other parties who might be thrown up
through appropriate processes and Nigerians would freely choose those
who are better qualified among them with good track records and
without blemishes whatsoever.
The PDP may have its way in fielding President Jonathan as its sole
presidential candidate but the masses must have a choice in electing a
candidate freely in a transparent election. As at now President
Jonathan is unresponsive to that undemocratic gesture; would he
eventually play ball?