Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Speech: Buhari’s Speech At Flag Off Of 2011 Election Campaign In The North West

My friends, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Muhammadu Buhari, the former military Head of State. And I thank the Almighty God who gave me the unique opportunity to serve this nation from the humble rank of Platoon Commander to Commander-in-Chief, at the revered rank of a general in the Nigerian army. I acknowledge the hand of God on me, when I found myself serving as the Country’s Head of State in the aftermath of a military coup.

I submit that, in the affairs of man, it is only God that can determine history and ordain destiny. In my own case, it is destiny that threw me up to serve as the Head of State of this great country at that particular moment of our national history.

I would say, with all humility that, I dutifully accepted all the challenges and responsibilities of head of state and government. Whatever role I played, whether as leader or member of government, all my decisions and actions were always guided by a clear conscience; I was also guided by and agreement with my colleagues and members of my Executive council which always enabled me to try to avoid impropriety, dishonesty, corruption and other forms of abuse of office and power. My conscience constantly guided me to treat everyone and every group in the country with fairness and equity. That is why I can stand before Nigerians here today, and hold my head high – knowing that I am ever ready to face any scrutiny or answer any question regarding my past performance as a public figure. I am always ready to give account of my past records to the Nigerian people. However, it is my firm belief that our occasion today is not about the past rather it is an engagement that reflects on the future of our Country. We are today facing an uncertain future in an uncertain world. It is vital Nigerians make the right choice about who would look after them in the next four years.

I am standing here today as the Presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). I consider myself to be on a rescue mission. Never before have we seen such bad leadership in our national life.
The country’s life is literally falling apart on all fronts on security, in education, on the economy, in healthcare system, and youth employment. Many critical observers have begun to list Nigeria among the failed states of the 21st century. We are internationally recognized for corruption, inefficiency, business uncertainty and infrastructural decay. For 12 years the PDP government has failed to tackle all these problems in spite of the resources at their disposal. We can and we must reverse these trends. The first step is for Nigerians to vote PDP out. They are finished! They have passed their “sell by date”.

Given the current state of affairs in the country, Nigerians have the legitimate right to ask the following questions: Where was the government when this great country of ours took a nose-dive on many critical sectors? Why does this government run from pillar to post, looking helpless, as it beats about the bush on the fundamental issue of resolving electric power supply challenge of the country? Why should our economy be left to operate on individual power Generating sets? Furthermore, if their aspiration to govern Nigeria for the next 60 years or 200 years is pure, why are they unable to guarantee something as fundamental and basic as security of life and property? Where was the PDP-led government when what started as occasional incidents of kidnapping degenerated to the embarrassing dimension of an incorporated evil business? Does it matter to this administration that insecurity has compelled many potential foreign investors to drop Nigeria from their list? Should we continue to vote the same people who have presided over the decline in quality of life in Nigeria for the last twelve years?

Shamefully, these people are openly canvassing a desire to rule Nigeria for sixty or 200 years! Nigerians must reject these ‘political zoo keepers’ and stop them in their tracks. And stop them now. During the last twelve years, they have almost transformed Nigeria into the proverbial animal farm where sycophants dominate both the airwaves and print media. Enough of PDP! Enough of them! The CPC movement is poised to restore confidence in our people. We are providing the platform that would enable the country break out of the present stranglehold. We in the CPC see and share the plight of the suffering citizens. We in the CPC here today offer a political platform whose imperative is to rescue Nigeria and reposition it for greater economic development and social well being. As such the first order of business for the CPC-led government would be to secure Nigeria better and to manage it better. The priority will be to end the feeling of insecurity in the country.

National Security:
Security of life and property is the number one duty of any government. No responsible government would allow religious killings, ritual killings, bombing, armed robbery, kidnapping, to continue unchallenged within its jurisdiction. The immediate task at hand must be to secure Nigeria better and manage it better. I therefore pledge to you that if I am elected to be your president in the upcoming 2011 election, I would secure Nigeria better and manage it better. Our administration will pursue an exemplary shift that will introduce far reaching and consultative reforms of Nigerian security agencies in line with the best modern practices. We shall replace the on- going cosmetic police reforms with a consultative reform of the police force and other security agencies.

Unfortunately, Police Reforms in Nigeria have become the bywords for bogus budgets and contracts which hardly have any impact the way police officers do their jobs, neither has they ever trickled down to improve the physical working environment at the police stations around the country. If you vote for me, our administration will bring in smart and intelligent policing that would have the fundamental human rights of citizens at heart. We would build a robust intelligent infrastructure for the security agents in the country. Our Nation’s Security must be predicated on the principle of proactive intelligence designed to prevent crimes or security threats before they take place. And quickly quell them when they occur. That is why we must pay special attention to funding and improvement of our intelligence infrastructures.

Youth Employment:
About eighty-four million Nigerians are young people under the age of 18. They represent sixty percent of the entire population. According to a recent World Bank Report, about 50 million Nigerian youths are unemployed. This figure represents a serious indictment of successive administrations at all levels of  governance. Not only have they never included Youth employment in their list of priorities in the last twelve years, but the issue of Youth employment has never been tackled with the seriousness it deserves. The young people of this country deserve much better deal than what they have been getting. Unemployment, deprivation, poverty, hopelessness and insecurity are part and parcel of our young men and women today.
It is my firm belief that politics and democracy must be willing to provide answers to such fundamental societal issues as youth employment. I implore the youth to vote en masse for CPC and we will look after you. The possible CPC Government I may lead will pursue a policy that will liberate the bottled-up energy in the private sector so as to enable them deliver job creation opportunities in the country. We only need to consider the number of employment positions created in Nigeria’s textile industry in the past. The private sector must be empowered through improved power, fuel, fair taxation regime and incentives to employ young people.
Our government shall establish a professionally managed Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Agency (YEEA) to enable enterprising and innovative young Nigerian graduates to make their foray into the business world. Much the same way their counterparts in the developed nations are empowered. Then, and only then would our young people think of baking the national cake rather than how to share it. The unbridled depletion of the nation’s foreign reserve by 43 percent within the last eighteen months from $62.2billion to $35.24 billion, is not only worrisome, but a confirmation of the fact that Nigeria truly runs the most expensive, extravagant, ineffective and unproductive government in the world! Yet the young and old and everybody but PDP cronies are the worse for

Education Sector Reforms:
Our education system does not need any cosmetic reforms. 6-3-3-4 or 6-6- 4 sounds to me like the formation of a football team. It cannot be tinkered with or amended any further along this path. The Nigerian Education system needs a root and branch reform. Education shall be a right to all Nigerians but for a nation to develop it must get its education priorities right. Nigeria cannot become the great nation of our dream without the necessary brain power and human resources. We have no chance of becoming great if we continue to maintain an education system whereby only 20-percent of candidates pass SSCE/GCE examinations. We are building more and more universities yet the present ones are inadequately funded to undertake learning, teaching and research. Mediocrity multiplied only produces mass mediocrity. Our aim, when in government is to adequately fund the system to produce quality education for development. Some Nigerians have wondered why we chose the pen as part of CPC logo. Truth is, the pen symbolizes our commitment to quality education and by extension knowledge, development and progress.

Economic Development And Growth: Our national economy which largely depends on crude oil exportation to earn income can only be likened to flying on a single engine aircraft with a single point of failure. The Nigeria oil money represents great foreign exchange earning potential. However, countries like Indonesia, Norway, and UAE that discovered oil have used their oil revenue to build a diversified economy. Agriculture used to represent 80percent of the Nigerian economy until oil was discovered in the country. Today, agriculture represents 45-percent of our economy even at that, the impact of agriculture is hardly felt in the economy as commercial agriculture is almost non-existent, with no agricultural firm quoted in the nation’s stock exchange. We need to encourage commercial agriculture through a well orchestrated policy for food security and economic growth beyond the current politics of fertilizer distribution! We shall also help small farmers with petty holdings in the form of inputs and access to small scale credit.

Strenghtening Democratic Institutions And Fighting Corruption: The biggest challenge to democracy in Nigeria today is represented by the weakness of our collective democratic institutions compared to the boundless powers of a few individuals. Even the constitution which we hold so dearly and regard with the highest esteem  it would amount to a useless collection of papers if we the people are not ready to defend it. The constitution derives its aura and respect because all the courts in the land are there to uphold and defend it. And many citizens would rather die than have a constitutional right denied them. Similarly, the votes which we are going to cast in the upcoming election may amount to a worthless exercise if we are not going to defend them and ensure that they count. Therefore, in the upcoming 2011 election our civic duty as citizens would be accomplished if after we cast our votes, we still stick around to defend the votes and ensure that they count and they are counted. “a kasa”
“a tsare”
“a raka”
“a jira”
“idan zaa taba ku hana”. The 2011 election outing is the appropriate occasion to correct past electoral mistakes and review democratic scorecard of the political class. I therefore beg Nigerians to seize the moment and vote out of office the bunch of visionless politicians who have squandered all the chances they had to make Nigeria a great nation in their 12 years Occupation of Nigeria.

Guarantee Equity And Protection For All: Nigeria is a country made up of hundreds of ethnic groups with over 250 spoken languages and dialects. Because it has pleased Almighty God to bring many ethnic nationalities under a common destiny called Nigeria, we owe it to ourselves to evolve institutional ways to get along. This Nigeria is still the same country where we use to sing: “though tribes and tongues may differ in brotherhood we stand!” We the CPC aspire to a Nigeria where every ethnic group would have equal access to equity regardless of the size of communities, religious orientation or historical antecedents. We are committed to making every ethnic group to have a strong sense of belonging to our common destiny. Where there is neglect in the country, CPC shall bring a renewed government commitment and presence. Our political project is to provide leadership for one strong united Nigeria. We stand for equity for all, and we stand for the sanctity of every human life. We view any form of killing as unpatriotic and unNigerian. CPC condemns the frequent incidents of bloodshed going on in Plateau and Borno States. Our sympathy and prayers go to the families who have lost their relatives in the crisis. We pray God to grant these families the fortitude to endure such a loss. We in the CPC are committed to promoting equity, peace and security among the different groups that make up the Nigeria nation. We are going to stop this madness. Enough is enough!
If you elect me as the president of Nigeria, our administration shall act swiftly to address the unique environmental hazard exposure of the Niger Delta. I want assure Nigerians that we would do whatever it takes to end gas flaring in the area within the first half of our tenure. Additionally, our government will embark on massive environmental reclamation projects to give the area a developmental model that would mirror the creeks of Amsterdam with attendant provision for potable water supply and electricity for the citizens in the area. I do not make idle promises. I mean what I say. I want to use this platform to seek everybody’s understanding that our national journey to advanced form of federalism must be viewed, not as short race, but as a marathon which requires moderation and level- headedness from political actors in the country. The Federal character provision in our 1999 constitution rejects a situation whereby a particular ethnic group holds a disproportionately large number of government posts and uses them to advance its position to the detriment of others. Having explored some of the key priority areas of CPC led administration; I want to leave you with few final thoughts. Number One: I have chosen the CPC platform for my presidential ambitions because CPC is a political party that would not rely on brute force to capture power or snatch ballot boxes and take over cities or states by violent and fraudulent means. Because CPC trusts the ability of Nigerians to make right choices, we prefer to respectfully ask Nigerians to trust us with their votes. We strongly believe that a political party which wishes to lead must first listen to those it would lead. The electoral process is one way to have the people express themselves. Therefore, in the upcoming 2011 election we are asking you to Vote for CPC all through. ‘CPC Zalla’! ‘CPC Zalla’!! ‘CPC Zalla’!!! CPC all the Way!!!

Number Two: Liberty, freedom and democracy come at a price. We must have the tenacity to stay the ground and put forth a sustained collective resistance to fend off the razzmatazz of our political adversaries who because they are bankrupt of ideas use force and intimidation. But remember, I cannot achieve that alone. We need your support and we need your participation. Number Three: The 2011 election is a unique opportunity for the nation to change its course and embrace a new beginning. It represents the best hope for the future generation. The CPC platform is a platform that has embraced integrity as part of its trademark.
Respectfully, I want to assure you that we are committed to realizing the positive policies that would ignite our national economy and spin it for the general welfare of Nigerian people. To the Organized Private Sector (OPS) represented by NACCIMA, NECA and MAN, as well as other similarly oriented private sector businesses. I appreciate the infrastructure challenges which you contend with in your daily activities – including electric power supply, transportation network to drive your supply chain, security for your staff and property and above all corruption in government. We are also aware of the raging issues of Multiple Taxation and Overlapping Regulation in many sectors of the economy. We want to assure you that help is on the way. If elected, we will zealously pursue the urgent establishment of private sector friendly environment. We would take on the challenge of electric power supply in the country in a way and manner that would show early results across the country. We realize that the growth potential of Nigerian economy may not be fully achieved without addressing these infrastructural challenges in the system. Our aim is to place Nigeria on the map of the fastest developing economies of the world; our commitment to making progress on this matter is total. Therefore, I ask you to support us morally as well as financially in the upcoming 2011 election. Fellow Nigerians, I have observed the present administration trying so hard to rebrand Nigeria through a paid  advertisement that contains some feel-good slogans.

But I am rather persuaded that once we use the opportunity offered us by the upcoming 2011 election to reclaim Nigeria and put our house in order, rebranding of Nigeria will automatically follow. For that reason, I need your help and I need your vote. We will automatically re-brand Nigeria by tackling power, corruption, infrastructure and the economy. Finally fellow Nigerians, I firmly believe that, a better and brighter future awaits Nigeria. Never before have we come so close to ushering in a new beginning for this great nation. However, for the Nigeria of our dream and aspiration to materialize sooner, I ask you to vote for CPC, because, a vote for CPC is a vote for accountability, for peace, for equity, for prosperity, for transparency and for change. It will also end the long running season of unmitigated corruption and looting of public treasury at all levels of governance in the country. It will end the suffocation of Nigeria. I believe that democratic  power truly belongs to the People. And we trust that Nigerian people can make good judgment on whom to entrust such power with.

Long live the people of Nigeria!
Long live CPC!! Long live The Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Thank you and God bless us all!!!

General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

News Release: Proposed Imo State Budget Virement Is Scandalous

Governor Ikedi Ohakim
The Imo Interest Group hereby joins all well meaning citizens of Imo State to condemn in its entirety the Re-Ordered Estimates (Virement) of the 2010 Appropriation Act of Imo State of Nigeria to the tune of N24,033,479,660 before the Imo State House of Assembly.

For the avoidance of confusion, a virement is a legislative approval that empowers the executive at any level of government to divert funds appropriated in the budget for certain projects to other ones it gives priority. Our grouse with the virement stem from three fundamental  issues, namely:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

(1)It It is both illegal and criminal to seek retroactive endorsement of virement for expenditures which have already been arbitrarily made by the Imo State Government.  (2)The reprehensible administrative culture in which capital budgetary provisions for critical arrears like education, health, agriculture, and socio-economic infrastructure to positively impact on the people and development in Imo State were diverted to recurrent votes where they were easily frittered away is repugnant to the true essence of democratic rule and good governance.

A few examples would buttress our point. The retroactive approval for Re-Ordered Estimates being sort shows that the Government of Imo State had seriously crashed the budgetary provisions for the following capital projects: (i) Supervised Agric Credit Loan Scheme (ii) Urban Water Scheme (iii) Rural Water Scheme (iv) Dam and Irrigation Development Programme (iv) Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta Regional Water Supply Scheme (v) Imo State University (vi) Junior and Senior Secondary Schools (vii) Universal Basic Education (viii) College of Engineering of Imo State University Okigwe Campus (College of Medicine Imo State University Orlu Campus (ix) Bureau of Poverty Alleviation (x) Imo Wonder Lake and Resort Centre, Oguta (xi) Micro Credit Development Fund, etc.

If the sensibilities of Imo citizens were assaulted by the arbitrary crashing of budgetary allocations for these and many other key projects to the tune of N24,033,479,660, we lack words to describe Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s sense of priority and profligacy that saw to the diversion of such funds into non-priority recurrent votes where they were easily frittered away. They include the following:

1.The jacking up of Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s security vote from N3 Billion to N4.256 Billion. This sum translates to over N354 Million monthly. What could Ikedi Ohakim have secured with such a whopping sum in the midst of massive poverty even as kidnappers, armed robbers, etc were having a field day in Imo State in 2010? In fact only last week, gunmen killed the orderly and driver of a high court judge in Owerri and successfully abducted him. 2. Cost of maintenance of the Government House and Lodge was
increased from the approved N200 Million to N1.5 Billion. 3. Expense for the Government House Media and Public Relations was unilaterally raised from the N100 Million approved in the 2010 budget                                                                                   
to N850 Million. Little wonder they could afford to buy ten newspaper pages to abuse both real and imagined “enemies” of government who attempted to question the misrule in Imo State.
4. Budget for Donation also rose from N100 Million to N600 Million, while Maintenance of Motor  Vehicles increased from N150 Million to N300 Million. The Government also spent N150 Million instead of the approved N70 Million on “Hospitality” and another N300 Million instead of an approved N100 Million on “Gift” to Government Guests Little wonder the Governor could, as reported by Champion Newspaper of Wednesday February 6 2011 afford to attempt bribing Catholic priests and Reverend Sisters with a whooping $50,000. Lord have mercy!

It is also instructive that despite frittering away funds voted for the Agricultural Credit Loan Scheme, Governor Ohakim stretched his political gimmick further by launching the Scheme on Tuesday February
22 2011. According to the retroactive virement request before the State Assembly, while N1 Billion was approved for the take off of the Scheme, the Government had, with its characteristic impunity narrowed
it down to N800 Million out of which N600 Million had been spent even when the Scheme had not taken off, leaving it with a paltry N200Million.

In view of these, we wish to state categorically that the wave of mass protests that would engulf the nooks and crannies of Imo State should the Imo State House of Assembly which is packed with Ikedi Ohakim’s cronies as much as touches the request for a retroactive virement with a 100 metre pole will reduce the prevailing situations in the Arab world to a child’s play.

We totally support the position of the overwhelming majority of Imo citizens that Governor Ikedi  Ohakim’s cup is full and running over. We are appalled therefore that the State House of Assembly is yet to respond to the popular demands by visiting this heinous illegality, profligacy, and impunity that cries to the high heavens with the requisite actions if they still call themselves the representatives of the people.
We further call on all anti-graft agencies to immediately rise to the occasion by investigating the matter with a view to immediately prosecute everyone found culpable in this budget scandal.

Barrister Uchendu Nwachukwu
Director of Media and Mobilization