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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Buhari Hedges on Presidential Ambition


1206F05.Muhammadu-Buhari.jpg - 1206F05.Muhammadu-Buhari.jpg

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd)

•  Ngige emerges APC's governorship candidate for Anambra
Onyebuchi Ezigbo
A former Head of State and a leading member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd),Wednesday avoided any further controversy over his expressed ambition to secure the party's ticket for the 2015 presidential election.
However, the party celebrated another  milestone in its efforts to build a more united and cohesive platform, when it brokered a concensus that saw Senator Chris Ngige, emerging as its governorship candidate for the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State.
Buhari, who arrived early for the APC leaders at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, venue of the meeting in Abuja, sat quietly all through the meeting and refused to speak on whether he would participate in the party's primaries to elect the presidential candidate.
Against the expectations of many of his loyalists, who had thronged the venue of the meeting, the former Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) leader, declined to make any reference to the contentious issue about the APC flag bearer, but rather used the occasion to enjoin party members to support the interim leadership in discharging its responsibilities of ensuring the mobilisation and formation of structures nationwide.
He said it was up to the interim leadership to replicate the successes recorded at the various stages of the merger negotiations during the registration of party members.
The enthusiasm of many leaders of the party at the meeting was raised high when the Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, informed the gathering of the successful resolution of the contentious governorship ticket of the party for Anambra  State in favour of Ngige.
He said just as the  APC  was planning to hold primaries for the Anambra State governorship election, the South-east caucus of the party had swung into action and by Wednesday, was able to amicably resolve to nominate Ngige to fly the party's flag at the election.
He said Anambra governorship election was going to be a test case for the party in its quest to wrestle power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
"For the South-east and for the Anambra election let me assure you that there is no cause for alarm. Let me assure you that victory is already guaranteed in Anambra State. The party must do all it can to record victory in the election to serve as yardstick for predicting what to expect in the 2015 elections," he said.
Speaking on the negotiations that resulted in the emergence of Ngige as the party's candidate for Anambra State, Okorocha said they were able to successfully broker a negotiation between the two front runners, Senator Annie Okonkwo and Ngige.
He said the victory of APC would not come easy, adding that the members should be ready to work harder and eschew all vices that had tended to prevent opposition parties from reaching the greater heights.
"We must be united. We must  de-emphasise ethnicity, religion and tribe in APC. We must make sure that the choice of APC presidential candidate on integrity and not on where the person comes from.  Let he that has the requisite attribute run this nation, irrespective of religion or place of origin. Let the leadership of country emerge based on what they do to put food on the tables of Nigerians and not their ethnic or religion background," he stated.
The governor described APC as a child of circumstance, which had come to be due to the rascality and bad governance of the PDP over the years.
While explaining the purpose of the meeting, the interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, said it was meant to enlighten members on the immediate responsibility of the interim executive committee, which was to carry out membership registration and congresses to substantive leadership for the party.
He said nothing would stop APC from taking over governance in the country come 2015, adding that  one of the major attributes of APC was integrity and transparency of which Buhari was no doubt a leading  light.
The interim chairman  said APC membership registration had been concluded in Anambra State in three days  and that the next challenge would be to replicate the exercise in other states.
In that regards, Akande promised that the APC interim leadership would soon commence the registration nationwide.
On the party's agenda, he said the immediate challenge before APC was to check religious, ethnic, political and civil unrests that have led to the loss of millions of innocent lives.
"The philosophy underpinning the coming into being of the APC therefore is the determination to bring the country back from the brink of collapse, despair, and possible disintegration, reposition it decisively on the route to emerging into a modern stable democratic nation, with productive economy that is based on equity and justice for all citizens," he said.
Akande listed some of the challenges to be tackled by the party to include, reinforcing national unity and integration, threats to security, law and order, ensuring rapid economic growth and equity,  prioritising education and healthcare delivery and working hard to reposition Nigeria to reclaim her proper place in world affairs.
Speaking on why APC could be trusted,  he  said  the party  was made up of leaders with character and discipline, who have in the past exhibited an uncommon resolve to bring about change and progress in the country.
"We have in APC tested and trusted people who can drive the desired change. I believe our leaders have done well in organising and mobilising action for the actualisation of the APC agenda. We want to add value to human resources and it requires courage, energy and determination for someone like Senator Ahmed Yerima, to install ANPP government in Zamfara State.
Oshiomhole said  Buhari had all it takes to bring about the needed change in the polity, adding that during his past leadership, it was possible to make a change and instill discipline in our national life.
On his part, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said APC was about the only national party in Nigeria at present, adding that there was no zone, where the party had no government in power.
He said the every hope that the party would emerge victorious in the 2015 elections but that in order to achieve this, the party leaders have to continue in the same spirit they have collaborated and worked hard to ensure that APC dream comes true.
Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, stated that APC was beginning  to show that it was truly the change agent with the calibre of personalities and conduct of its affairs.
He implored members of the party to try and operate as brothers and sisters.
“Let's us leave here with the spirit of the old Nigeria, which is that of oneness and brotherhood,” he said.
A woman member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa expressed optimism that the party was poised to change the gender balance in the country's politics.
The former chairman of the ACN merger committee, Chief Tom Ikimi, who spoke on behalf of other chairmen of the merger committees of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and CPC,  expressed dismay at the poor state of the country's finances, which had left the country almost going cap in hand begging for funds to execute the national budget.
Ikimi, who was a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, alleged that states have not been able to receive allocations for the month due to the financial crunch.
He said no one can fault the fact that  Buhari is a man of courage and discipline and that he is a man that Nigeria needed at the moment.
He described APC as an alternative party in the country not opposition party because with the merger of three major opposition parties, APC has assumed a truly national party that can be trusted to take over the reigns of power.
Ikimi advised all the leaders of various parties to forget their former parties and embrace APC and to be humbly enough to go to their wards to register as members. He cautioned against allowing individuals to fund the party so that they would not hijack the affairs of the party.
One of the front leaders of party and former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, was absent at the meeting owing to a knee injury for which he was said to have gone abroad for treatment.
Among the over 500  party chieftains who attended the meeting were, former Chairman of ANPP, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu,  former Chairman of CPC, Mr. Tony Momoh, former presidential candidate of ACN, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former ANPP BoT Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, Senator Chris Ngige, Senator Annie Okonkwo, Senator Ahmed Yerima, Chief George Muoghalu, Senator George Akume, Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu,  Chief Tom Ikimi, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Alhaji Garba Gadi.


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