Sunday, 12 May 2013
SPEECH BY GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE CONGRESS FOR PROGRESSIVE CHANGE, CPC, AT THE PARTY’S NATIONAL CONVENTION IN ABUJA, MAY 11, 2013
With your permission, Mr Chairman, I would like to begin by welcoming all the CPC delegates to this historic occasion. And our special welcome goes out to our friends and colleagues from sister-parties, notably Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Musa Gwadabe, Dr. Yakubu Lame, Governors Raji Fashola and Ibikunle Amosun, former Governors Achike Udenwa, Segun Osoba and Chris Ngige, Alhaji Lai Mohammed of the ACN, Senator Ahmed Sani, Yariman Bakura, of the ANPP, and Owelle Rochas Okorocha of APGA.
2. But before I deliver my speech, I would like all of us here and across the country to reflect on the seriousness of the security situation in the country today. Some areas of the nation are virtual war zones in a country supposedly at peace. Whole local governments in some states in the North East are no-go areas to representatives of constituted authority. Marauders of every description armed to the teeth with all manner of sophisticated armaments roam the national landscape with total and murderous impunity. The patience of this nation and the various communities within it has been severely tried and stretched to its limits. And there is no end in sight.
3. Anarchy is knocking on the door of many sections of this country and the Federal government has not demonstrated that it has the good sense to understand what is going on, or the competence to check it. The nation is hopelessly adrift. But, if we are to survive, this vicious circle of violence that has engulfed this nation must be brought to an end; and we implore the National Assembly to take the lead in this quest for peace. I am sure everybody in this gathering will join me in expressing sympathy for, and solidarity with, the good people of Borno, Yobe, Kano, and now, Nasarawa and Benue states on their suffering and travails.
4. Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests and fellow delegates, we must explore every opportunity to save our country. This is a historic moment when several different political parties have resolved to come together to change Nigeria for the better and stop the mindless drift that has been going on for the last fourteen years. We must understand and accept that we are here gathered to make history or forever stand accused and condemned by it. We must seize this moment that calls for patriotism and sacrifice—it is time to sacrifice everything—time, resources, ambition and ego—for the greater good. We should carry this process through to a successful conclusion, and leave our legacy and foot-prints on the history of Nigeria.
5. Many political analysts have long stated that the only way to stabilize the country is for opposition parties to merge and oust the ruling PDP. In 2010, during the run-up to the elections of 2011, ACN and CPC inaugurated committees to explore ways and means of merging into a single political party.
6. We have gone to the extent of developing a flag, a logo, a name and have even proceeded to discuss with the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, about the modalities of consummating our plans; but time proved too short, and we were not about to give too many hostages to fortune.
7. So the present move is really a continuation of the efforts begun in 2010; and this time we have started early, following the rules step by step. On its part, the CPC has, within the last two months, established the following committees with appropriate terms of reference:
1. Merger Committee;
2. Convention Committee;
3. Membership and Registration Committee;
4. Contact and Mobilization Committee; and
5. Publicity Committee;
8. The objective of these committees is to prepare CPC for the proposed merger; and these committees have satisfactorily concluded their assignments and their proposals have been submitted to NEC and to the Board of Trustees, and these are now being presented to you, the National Convention, the highest policy making body of our party. Other parties have fast-tracked their processes and some have even held their conventions. So far, so good.
No doubt, all the parties joining to form APC are coming in as equals; but, realistically, we all know that some are more equal than others. Nevertheless, every joining party will bring its peculiar strengths to this union and together we will, in every sense of the word, be too strong for the ruling party to resist. With this, we believe the time for real change has finally come to Nigeria—and it must change now before it become too late.
The government has failed in almost everything; it has proved unable to secure the nation’s internal environment: there is insecurity everywhere. There is spiraling lawlessness all over the country. There is widespread and rising poverty and unemployment across the length and breadth of the country. There is a complete and total decline in the quality of social services and an irremediable dilapidation in the nation’s socio-economic infrastructure across board.
9. There is an unprecedented fall in the nation’s standard of living and an astronomical rise in the standard of dying. In short, today, there is nothing going right; and we have become a nation in which nothing works as it should, that is, if it works at all. When they said they have what they call a Transformation Agenda, we didn’t understand, but we now know better; because, within the space of three years, they have transformed the country into a veritable wilderness, where everything that should work, doesn’t; where everything that can get broken, has.
10. They promised to give the nation credible elections; they couldn’t deliver. They promised to fight corruption, they couldn’t deliver. They promised to stop the insurgency, and they couldn’t deliver. This nation is witness to the fact that whenever we promised, we delivered. And today, I promise you most solemnly that we shall confront and eliminate corruption in the electoral process. We shall confront and eliminate corruption in the judicial process; and we shall most assuredly confront and eliminate it in the conduct of government business.
11. All these evils derive and draw inspiration from a government that is itself immersed to its neck in a cesspool of corruption; and is best characterized by its own favourite catchphrases: whether it is ‘Do or die,’ or ‘We will rule forever,’ or ‘No vacancy in Aso Rock,’ or they want to ‘fight to finish,’ it is the same thing—something that could never be uttered by true democrats. Their behaviour, language and body language are in complete and total disregard for democratic norms and the ordinary decencies of civilized conduct.
12. We intend to provide a government of different quality and tone to the people of Nigeria, one that will tackle the problem of insecurity, solve the perennial issue of incessant power failure, arrest the shameful deterioration in the standard of education, confront the decline in agricultural production head-on, and stop the collapse of commerce and industry.
13. Ladies and gentlemen, fellow CPC members on behalf of the Board of Trustees of our party, I commend the proposals shortly to be put before you. The best way to eliminate this government that has not brought anything to Nigerians except thievery of resources and violence is to accept to merge our parties. And we only elect to do this because that is what we believe to be in the best interest of the majority of the people of this country.
14. And I would like to end by once again thanking our steadfast supporters—you, the ordinary folks—who have been the unbreakable backbone of this struggle, from the time we started this journey in APP to ANPP and then to CPC. You did not do it for material gain; otherwise, you will have turned your backs on us. No doubt, you decided to stay the course as a mark of respect for our stand, and possibly knowing that we would never let you down. You relied on our judgment to forge ahead through the thicket of the country’s corruption-laden politics. This we have tried to do to the best of our ability, and will continue to do so until the masses of this country secure a fair deal from those who lead them. What we desire is democracy and freedom for all our people. And in this struggle, we think we have done our bit.
15. At its formation, the CPC became the greatest crowd-pulling party in the nation’s political history; and within six months of its registration, and in spite of all the rigging of the poll and the snatching of its votes, it was still able to get more than 12 million votes in the 2011 presidential election. After the merger, the sky will be the limit.
16. While thanking you again, I implore you not to relent as we embark on yet another move in the search for a better tomorrow for our country, Nigeria. We are now in the final stages of the move that will culminate in the merger of our party—the CPC—with three other parties. We join this effort compromising none of our principles but yielding to the belief that our diverse efforts, applied in unison, will help arrest the rot that has become our lot.
17. We go into this new arrangement still loyal to you and committed to what you stand for. We go into this arrangement conscious of our responsibilities to you and grateful for all the sacrifices you have been making since the beginning of our journey. We count on you, as we have always done, to guide, support and defend our position. We will strive to work hard to expand and level the democratic playing field in accordance with the dictates of the rule of law. We declare that we are in this together—and together we shall remain to the end.
18. We played by the rules and we accepted to play alongside those who didn’t; because we believed our participation was giving millions hope that positive change will come along the way. Now change has finally come; and they cannot stop it. And we are putting the current leadership of this nation on notice that our people will no longer tolerate its corruption or the rigging, vote thievery and general impunity that have become the norm and standard practice during elections in this country.
19. We have resolved that henceforth our votes must all be counted—and they must all go on to count. And we declare that this nation has now resolved, through its united opposition, that it will never again tolerate or allow to pass the mayhem the government deliberately creates in order to cover up its guilt, obscure the issues and then blame the opposition in order to deceive gullible folks. And we will no longer be intimidated by anyone.
Thank you very much for your patience and attention. May God bless us.
General Muhammdu Buhari, GCFR