A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday formally declared his intention to contest the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, with a pledge that his administration would have zero tolerance for corruption and nepotism, if elected.
He also denounced the current federal administration led by President Goodluck Jonathan, saying it is leading Nigeria on the path of decline.
Mr. Abubakar, who served as vice president in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, made the declaration in Abuja at a ceremony attended by political associates, supporters and officials of the APC.
He had announced via a statement on September 5 by his media aide, Garba Shehu, that he would seek the ticket of the main opposition party to run in the February election.
Among the APC leaders in attendance are the National Secretary, Ibrahim Gubi, the National Youth Leader, Dasuki Jalo and the National Vice Chairman of the party in the North East zone, Bibi Lawal.
The APC Caucus in the Senate was represented by the Senate Minority Leader, George Akume, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Aisha Alhassan and the party’s governorship candidate in the October 11 election in Adamawa State, Jubrila Bindow.
“I want to lead a government that will invest in its people because people constitute the wealth of any nation. I want to lead a government that will create “A Nigeria for All”. A Nigeria that is not about North or South, Christian or Muslim, but about a better tomorrow where every citizen will feel secure, act with patriotism, having assurance of the fulfilment of his or her aspirations,” Mr. Abubakar told his cheering supporters at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre.
“I want to lead a government that will rebuild the institutions of governance with zero tolerance for corruption and nepotism, where hard work and dedication are adequately rewarded.
“I want to assemble the best brains in the land and provide the political will and commitment so that jointly, and with the cooperation of all of you, build a Nigeria of our dreams.”
The former vice president, who is making his fourth bid for the presidency since 1987 when he became politically active, recounted the achievements of the Obasanjo administration in which he served, saying it integrated the country into the international community following years of isolation, professionalized the armed forces, embarked on fundamental economic reforms articulated by an Economic Team, which he (Atiku) had the honour to chair.
He said that administration focused on macro-economic stability and transformed critical areas such as banking, insurance, oil and gas, telecommunication, pension and the Civil Service and also created novel institutions that should lay the foundation for good governance and accountability such as the Bureau of Public Procurement (Due Process),
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,, SERVICOM, whose Golden rule is “Serve others as you would like to be served.”
He said most of these institutions are now mere shadows of themselves.
Mr. Abubakar also said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration not only paid off nearly all Nigeria’s foreign debt which was crippling the country; but stabilized the exchange rate of the naira as well as interest rates, reduced inflation, reformed the telecommunication sector and handed over a well-articulated master Plans for the development of multi-modal transportation system, including a contract for the modernization of the railways.
He said, “This is the story of the service of an administration, which I am proud to have been a part of,” adding that the achievements were made possible because of the vision, commitment and dedication of leadership.
“We know the story today. Rather than continuing to pay down our debts, our borrowing has actually been increasing even though the price of oil has consistently been above $100 per barrel since the inception of the current administration. The percentage of our budget that is implemented has diminished significantly since capital projects are poorly cash-backed,” he stated.
The former vice president lamented that a number of major manufacturers had divested from Nigeria and relocated to neighbouring countries while those that remain operate at far below their installed capacity due mainly to poor infrastructure.
According to him, “The environment for doing business, and our ranking in world competitiveness index have worsened. Therefore, job opportunities for our teeming youth have become harder to come by.
“We recall with sadness the avoidable deaths of job seekers during the poorly organized so-called Immigration Service recruitment exam just last year. Up to this moment no one has been held accountable for those needless deaths.
“On human development, our infant and maternal mortality, and poverty and illiteracy levels continue to be embarrassingly high. Thus, while countries such as Ghana, Gabon and Botswana are classified by the UNDP as being at the Medium Human Development Level, Nigeria is grouped with those at the Low Human Development Level.”
While vowing that Nigeria must retake its leadership place in Africa, Mr. Abubakar said he would assemble the best brains to re-fix the country, with the support of Nigerians.
“I want to assemble the best brains in the land and provide the political will and commitment so that jointly, and with the cooperation of all of you, build a Nigeria of our dreams,” he stated>
“Nigeria must rise to retake its leadership place in Africa and earn the respect of other nations. This places on us the responsibility of stewardship. It is the consciousness of this national responsibility that has guided my political adventures; and it is this call to serve that I have come to answer once again.
“Nigeria must and will be great. With your support and prayers, we will change this country for good. We will create a country that will truly be the pride of the black race. We will create a new Nigeria for all Nigerians.”
The former vice president, who said he lost his father at age 11 and with the help of his mother and other relatives and friends of his father pulled himself up from “doldrums and despair” faced the future with uncommon confidence, faith and hope in God, admitted that he had been asked several times why he was always seeking to become president.
He explained that his “passion for governance is that of a man who wants to do more because there is so much more to be done in fixing Nigeria.”
He stressed, “This passion continues to grow as long as this government is not really doing the fixing. I have what it takes to bring people together and turn things around for the better. Therefore, I want to play a leading role in the trans-generational efforts to save this country and improve the lives of our people.”
Mr. Abubakar said to fix Nigeria, an APC government would promote a new socio-political order which would compel the leadership to always balance power and authority with service and accountability.
He said “with the support of the millions of Nigerians desirous of change and the hard work by all of us, the APC shall form the next government of this great nation.”
“That is why the 2015 election is about you. It is about how to ensure that you live safe and secured lives. It is about making sure that you feed well, receive quality and affordable education and training, secure good jobs, support your own families and contribute positively to the development of our country.
“This is what a responsive and responsible government owes its citizens. This is what our generation owes upcoming generations. This is what we must do to guarantee our country’s future. This is what democracy promises. This is what our party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), seeks to actualize.”
He further noted that at inception in July 2013, the APC, offered a great hope for many Nigerians as a potent alternative to the ruling PDP, adding “We have in our fold selfless leaders who cherish democratic principles and practice and who have demonstrated their patriotism in deepening democracy. “
“Regardless of the loud and lavish political propaganda, deceit, official impunity and unjust applications of powers of patronage and sanctions by the PDP administrations, let me assure you that our party remains strong and capable of fulfilling the nation’s thirst for change. And we shall do so united across regions, religions and generations.”
The former vice president said he was happy that the party adopted the innovative Modified Open Primaries in selecting its flag-bearers at all levels and that it would ensure the emergence of candidates whose mandate would be informed by the popular will of its members.