By Nuel Suji, Abuja.
Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Major General Muhammed Buhari, Thursday urged Nigerians to shun all forms of violence in the next Saturday elections, saying his desire to be president is driven by his quest for quality leadership for Nigeria.
Speaking at a grand finale campaign in Abuja, ahead of the presidential election, Buhari appealed to all Nigerians to shun violence in whatever form, urging them to freely exercise their right to vote.
“I appeal to all Nigerians to shun violence in whatever form. It is the right of every adult Nigerian to vote and expect that their votes would count in a free, fair and credible election. However, we also have a responsibility to respect the choice of others and grant them the same treatment that we expect,” he said.
“I also want to call on all our men and women in uniform, the Judiciary, and all others who have constitutional responsibility to safeguard our democracy, to remember that their responsibility is primarily to Nigerians and the survival of Nigeria. They must therefore not allow anyone to use them to subvert the will of the Nigerian people. I believe that their dreams and aspirations are not different from those of other Nigerians,” he said.
The APC presidential candidate reminded Nigerians that this was the fourth time he would be standing for election, saying all these years, he had been driven by a keen awareness of the potential greatness of the country and the desire to provide true leadership that would unleash this huge potential.
“I believe that a stable and prosperous Nigeria is not only important to Nigerians. It is also important to Africa and the rest of the world. The evidence of this is the unprecedented attention that our country will receive this weekend.
“On Saturday, the whole world would wait with baited breath for the greatest black nation on earth to take charge of its destiny. We must therefore not miss the significance of this moment. We must not let ourselves and our country down.
“At no other time in our history is Nigeria in such an urgent need of strong and competent leadership. Sadly, at no other time is this leadership so sorely absent in our country. We live in a time of great opportunities and great peril. It is only a leader that understands these in equal measure that can find the rightful place for Nigeria among the great Nations of the world.
“I have traveled extensively around Nigeria in the last three months. In the course of my travels, I encountered directly, what I have always believed: that a Hausa man’s desire for security is not different from the Ijaw woman’s desire to feel secured in any part of our country.
“An Igbo woman’s desire for her children to get quality education and find employment is not different from the Yoruba man’s dream for his children to become a useful member of our society.
“A wife’s desperate need for affordable and quality healthcare for her husband diagnosed with prostate cancer in Enugu is not different from a husband’s desire to save the life of his wife diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Lagos.
“Invariably, our fears are the same; our dreams are the same; and our problems are the same. Regardless of the language we speak, or the way we understand and worship God, what affects anyone of us, affects everyone of us,” he said.
On the economy, Buhari said the nation’s economy is celebrated as the largest in Africa, but lamented that the nation is home to the continent’s highest number of people living in extreme poverty, noting that the youth population in Nigeria is larger than the combined population of many of neighbouring countries.
“Yet our failure to plan and create opportunities for them is turning them to a social time bomb rather than economic catalysts. A band of ragtag terrorist group has threatened our territorial integrity, killed thousands of Nigerians, displaced our people and abducted our children. The almost 60, 000 Nigerians who have become refugees in neighbouring countries represent a budding threat to sub-regional stability.
“However, even in the face of these daunting challenges, I see a great opportunity for change. We have to start by rebuilding the trust and confidence of Nigerians in their government. No citizen will respect a government under whose watch more than 200 girls were abducted. This singular act can only portray the government as insensitive, incompetent or both.
“When I become president, reuniting these children with their families will, without doubts, be a top priority. Rebuilding the army and other security agencies will also be a top priority of my government. I will ensure that never again will terrorists find a safe haven in Nigeria.
“Recent fall in international price of crude leaves us badly exposed and vulnerable. Dwindling oil revenue also means that we are going to face serious financial challenges in the months ahead. However, even as daunting as this appears, it also provides us with great opportunity to diversify our economy and finally give meaning to the widely held belief that our prosperity as a nation would not continue to depend on the resources buried under our feet, but on the productive capacity of our people,” he added.
“No matter how much resources the nation has, if not properly utilized, it would only create a few billionaires and leave majority of our people in poverty,” he said, adding that under the current administration, corruption has enjoyed unprecedented prosperity and this has been at the heart of most of our government failings, including insecurity, broken infrastructure and growing inequality in our country.
Buhari said his government would have a zero tolerance for corruption as he would set a personal example and run a government that truly served the people rather than serve themselves and a privileged few.
“Like I have repeatedly maintained that if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. We must not allow Nigeria to die. Therefore, we must do all that is necessary to root out this evil that has reduced our great country to a laughing stock of the world. We must begin to rebuild the social fabrics of our society and teach a different experience to our youth in the values of hard work, discipline, integrity and service.
“The change that I seek therefore; is a change from the current regime of mindless of corruption and profligacy; a change from fear and insecurity to peace and stability; a change from religious and ethnic divisiveness to unity, equity and justice. This is the change that my party stands for. This is the change that I am committed to bringing about as President. Give me the chance to lead you in rebuilding a Nigeria that all of us can be proud of once again,” he added.