Time For Nigeria To Be Great Once Again
I want to take this last opportunity, before we go to the polls on Saturday March 28 and April 11 respectively, to thank everyone who has supported our campaigns. I am humbled and grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many of my fellow Nigerians who have helped to carry the message of change across our great country.
This is the fourth time that I would be standing for election as the President of Nigeria. All these years, I have been driven by a keen awareness of the potential greatness of our country and the desire to provide the true leadership that will 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 travelled 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 useful members 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.
Our economy is celebrated as the largest in Africa, yet our country is home to the continent’s highest number of people living in extreme poverty. Our youth population is larger than the combined population of many of our neighbours, 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 terrorists 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.
The recent fall in the international price of crude oil 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.
No matter how much resources we have, if not properly utilised, it would only create a few billionaires and leave the majority of our people in poverty. 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.
My government will have zero tolerance for corruption. I will set a personal example and run a government that truly serves the people rather than 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 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.
As we come out to vote on Saturday, 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.
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.
I have no doubt that with God being on our side; together we can make our country great once again.
Gen. Muhammadu BUHARI, GCFR is the All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate in the March 28, 2015 elections in Nigeria.