The All Progressive Congress APC formally opened it’s Campaign for the 2019 presidential election yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari at the unveiling of his campaign at a well attended launch in the presidential villa vowed to take the country to the next level against the background of what was claimed as 16 years of waste under the PDP.
President Buhari at the flag-off of the campaign observed that education remained his biggest ambition in sight, but nevertheless acknowledged challenges, notably the farmers-herders clashes which he said have been aggravated by struggle for land, climate change among other issues, which he said were worsened through cynical manipulation by the political class.
Yesterday’s formal campaign flag-off by the President took place at the Presidential Villa and was witnessed by leaders of the APC, including governors, ministers, and senior government officials.
Ahead of the president’s flag-off, senior operatives of the administration enunciated achievements of the government in the last three years.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said Saturday’s victories by the APC candidates in bye-elections in Kwara, Bauchi and Katsina signalled the acceptance of the Buhari administration.
He said: “We came in when Nigerians clamoured for change and the rest of the world looked up to our nation for direction. We came in when hope was lost. A leader with distinct integrity was needed for our nation. The journey has been tortuous but we have weathered the storm.”
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in his presentation, said that no other government since the Shehu Shagari administration had conceived the kind of housing programme that is presently being undertaken by the Buhari government. He said the administration’s housing projects could be found in 34 states.
Rotimi Amaechi, the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation and Minister of Transportation in his presentation said, whereas the PDP was in power for 16 years, the APC in power for three years had accomplished far more, including rail, roads and fiscal prudence.
The next level
Speaking on his mandate and quest for another four years in office, Buhari said: “The next four years will be quite significant for our country. Nigeria is faced with a choice to keep building a new Nigeria — making a break from its tainted past which favoured an opportunistic few.
“Our choices will shape us, our economic security and our future prosperity. Nigeria, more than ever before, needs a stable and people-focussed government to move the agenda for our country forward. Join us on this journey to the Next Level of a prosperous, strong and stable Nigeria!
“Four years ago, we promised Nigerians real change in what we do and how we do it. Nigerians sent a clear message in the last election and our platform offered a new ambitious plan for a secure, prosperous and corruption-free country.
“We have worked hard to fulfil our promises and while the road may have been difficult, over the last three and half years, we have laid the foundations for a strong, stable and prosperous country for the majority of our people.
“Foundational work is not often visible, neither is it glamorous but it is vital to achieving the kind of country we desire. Judging by the prior depth of decay, deterioration and despair that Nigeria had sunken into, we are certain that these past few years have put us in good stead to trudge on the Next Level of building an even and stronger nation for our people.
“First things had to come first. We were a nation at war — but we delivered on our commitment to secure the territorial integrity of our nation in the face of a raging insurgency that devastated many parts of the North-East.
“We liberated 17 local government areas from the grip of insurgency. Brokering and sustaining peace in the Niger Delta has also been crucial to stabilising the polity. Despite the difficult circumstances presented by weak oil prices and reduced oil production, we delivered on our commitment to make public investments to spur economic growth, job creation, and broad based prosperity.
“Agriculture continues to expand our economic base, as do our investments in deficient infrastructure across the length and breadth of this nation.
“We implemented a responsible and transparent fiscal plan for the challenging economic times that we faced.
“The next level of effort focuses on job creation across sectors. From an enlargement of the N-Power programme to investing in technology and creative sector jobs to agriculture and revolutionising access to credit for entrepreneurs and artisans, there is scope for over 15 million new jobs.
“We believe that our people who are still in poverty have a direct way out and up through our expanded National Social Investment Programme.
“We know that, to succeed, moral integrity and conscience must continue to form the dominant character of our nation and its leadership. Corruption is an existential threat to Nigeria.
Stoking patriotism, the president said: “I am not unmindful of the fact that presidential and National Assembly campaigns start today. I implore candidates to go about peacefully and decently. We have no other country, let us not set it ablaze.”
Buhari inside the Campaign manual debunk insinuations that the president was opposed to restructuring even as it affirmed that the president was not a deceptive person on issues.
“Sometimes in 2017, the APC set up a committee headed by Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State to make far-reaching recommendations on restructuring.
“That Committee submitted its report early in 2018. In all his public outings throughout the years, the Vice President has advocated restructuring and true federalism.
“The President has never indicated he would oppose any move by the National Assembly to carry out constitutional amendments to fully reflect true federalism.”
In what was titled the history of the main opposition and popular views about its candidate, the Buhari Support Group said: “As President and Vice President, President (Olusegun) Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar granted themselves university licences and were building their universities whilst ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) was on strike severally at that period.
“The privatisation programme of the OBJ/Atiku Government was fraught with fraud as most of the deals ended in fiasco. Some of them were NITEL, ALSCON, etc.
“The OBJ/Atiku Government denied Lagos State of its funds for more than two years until it left power in 2007 because of political differences. And this was done despite an order of Supreme Court compelling the Federal Government to release the said funds.
“The OBJ/Atiku Government conducted some of the worst elections in our history which was the 2003 and 2007 elections where results were simply written. Hence, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on the 3rd of September, 2018, publicly expressed his regret for not taking Lagos from Tinubu in 2003 because Tinubu was his friend.
“Despite all the recent grandstanding on restructuring, the candidate of the main opposition as Vice President never for once used his position to push for restructuring.
“There is no record of any Public lecture or open or secret memo he wrote to his boss or anyone, advocating restructuring in any form. Instead, he was busy trying to restructure PDP throughout that period to take it over.”
The group debunked the allegation that President Buhari condones corruption around him.
It said, “At one time or the other the President has had cause to order the investigation of close aides accused of corrupt practices. Those that were found wanting have been removed from office. The criticism that some of them have not been charged to court simply has two answers:
“The President does not interfere in the work of law enforcement agencies. In many cases, it takes time for people to be investigated and charged to court.
“No one has ever provided any verifiable evidence of corruption against the President or Vice President unlike in previous governments. The integrity of the President is not in doubt as expressed by various individuals, including heads of other governments, who have spoken on the character of the President.”
Also present at the event were Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; wife of the President, Aisha Buhari; Governors Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa state, Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state, Yahaha Bello of Kogi, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Abdulaziz Yari, of Zamfara, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Aminu Masari of Katsina State, SGF, Boss Mustapha; Rotimi Amaechi, Babatunde Fashola, Heineken Lokpobiri; Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, Senator John Owan Enoh, Senator Aliu Wamako; former Minister of Labour and Production, Emeka Wogu.