A former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, formally declared his intention to contest the 2015 presidential election and warned against any form of rigging by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the 2015 elections.
He also lamented the state of the nation under the administration of the ruling party, saying at no time was it divided as it was now.
With the declaration, Mr. Buhari becomes the second presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC to formally do so.
A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar declared his plan to run for president on the party’s ticket on September 24.
Two other aspirants, Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso of Kano, and the Publisher of Leadership Newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah, will make bid known on October 23 and 28 respectively.
Mr. Buhari, a retired general, who had contested the presidential election on three occasions, told a mammoth crowd of cheering supporters at the Eagles Square, Abuja, that he would seek the APC’s presidential ticket.
“I humbly wish to present myself before you, before all of Nigeria and before God seeking to be elected as APC’s Presidential candidate,” he said.
He explained that having appreciated that the only way to relieve Nigerians of the PDP, the main opposition parties decided to pool their strengths into one party.
He said the party had worked very hard in the last 18 months to put up structures from the polling units to wards, local governments, states and the centre.
The presidential hopeful said that there was no point in holding elections if they were not free.
“Interference in the form of rigging which PDP Government has practised since 2003 is the worst form of injustice – denying people their right to express their opinions. Whether they like it or not, injustice cannot endure,” Mr. Buhari said.
“Since 1999 PDP has presided over our country’s decline. Nigeria in my experience has never been so divided, so polarized by an unthinking government hell-bent on ruling and stealing forever whatever befalls the country. Mr Chairman, we in APC are resolved to stop them in their tracks and rescue Nigeria from the stranglehold of PDP.”
Mr. Buhari, who ruled Nigeria between 1983 and 1985, said the last 16 years of PDP government had witnessed decline in all critical sectors of life in the country.
According to him, apart from the general insecurity in the land, power outages had taken a frightening dimension while the economy continued to deteriorate.
He said, “Quite apart from Boko Haram, there is prevalence of armed robbery, kidnappings and killings, cattle rustling, market and farmland arson.
“These outrages have taken a new and a frightening dimension, disrupting economic and social life across whole communities.
“The economy continues to deteriorate while the Government continues to announce fantastic growth figures but manufacturing is down, agriculture is down, commerce is down.”
He argued that simply because “you sell oil and steal part of the money does not entitle you to cook figures and announce phantom economic growth when all the major indices namely employment, manufacturing, farming and trading are demonstrably on the decline.”
Mr. Buhari recounted that when the PDP came to power in 1999, Nigeria was generating about 4,000 M/W of electricity, but that after 15 years and $20 billion spent it was generating only between 3,000 – 4,000 megawatts, stressing “no failure is more glaring than this.”
The former head of state said the APC had resolved to bring about change, if elected.
According to him, his administration would protect lives and property, pursue economic policies for shared prosperity and immediate attention on youth employment, quality education for development, modernity and social mobility, agricultural productivity for taking millions out of poverty and ensuring food security.
He also said he would revive industry to generate employment; develop solid minerals exploitation which will substantially attract employment and revenue for government; restore honour and integrity to public service by keeping the best and attracting the best; and tackle corruption which has become blatant and widespread.
“The rest of the world looks at Nigeria as the home of corruption. Nigeria is a country where stealing is not corruption,” Mr. Buhari said.
He also assured that the APC administration would respect the constitutional separation of powers between the executive, legislatures and judiciary as well as the rights of citizens.