Nigeria News
Speeches: Govs, others root for Buhari

The third national convention and presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress went under way in the early hours of Thursday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

The five aspirants of the party — a former Head of State, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso; Publisher of Leadership newspapers, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, and Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha — all spoke at the convention.

Although known to be taciturn, Buhari sent the crowd of delegates and party members agog with his speech delivered in less than 10 minutes.

He said, “I have always served Nigeria to the best of my ability. I have always tried to give more to the nation than it has given me. This is the principle of service that has guided my public life. Thus, I am not a rich person. I can’t give you a pocketful of dollars or naira to purchase your support. Even if I could, I would not do so. The fate of this nation is not up for sale.

“What I will give you, and this nation is all of my strength, commitment, sweat and toil in the service of the people. What I can give you is my all.

“I do not intend to rule Nigeria. I want to democratically govern it with your help. I seek a Nigeria where Christians and Muslims may practise their faiths in peace and security; a Nigeria that is just and where corruption no longer trespasses into our institutions and national behavior and a Nigeria where our diversity could be used for our national prosperity.

“Nigeria is our home. Let us now turn it into the great nation we know it can and should be.”

Buhari’s speech drew a loud ovation from the crowd, some of who gave him a standing ovation.

In what could pass for where the sympathy of the governors and the APC national leadership lies, the VIP section, where the party’s past and current national chairmen, Chief Bisi Akande and Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, respectively sat went agog after Buhari made his famous speech.

When called to make his speech, Okorocha, who said he had the capability to lead the country, added that he remained the youngest of the contestants and thus should be giving the votes to lead the party in next year’s general elections.

But the crowd beside the VIP section bust into a chorus, “Arugbo la fe, arugbo la fe,” meaning “we want an old man.”

Specifically, Okorocha had told the crowd that Buhari was above 70 years old, even as he said Atiku was 63 while he gave the age of Nda-Isaiah as 58 and that of Kwankwaso as 58, saying that he was only 52.

Okorocha said, “Buhari is 73, Atiku is 68, Nda-Isiaih is 58, Kwankwaso is 58, Obama is 53, Rochas is only 52 years old. Nigeria of today is different of Nigeria of the 60s. I offer myself to run for the exalted office of the president in order to save the suffering masses.”

Atiku said he had been in the vanguard against bad governance and military dictatorship, recalling how state agents stormed his house, tied up his son and killed six policemen during an attack on his home in Adamawa during the military era.

He said, “Nigerians are tired to see Nigerians slaughtered everyday and the government is unable to do anything about it. Nigerians want change because they pay for electricity and get darkness. Nigerians are tired of the dangerous PDP mathematics, where seven is greater than 20 and six is greater than 19; where judges are beating up thugs, where the Speaker and parliament members are tear gassed.

“They are tired of where our police force and army are now butt of jokes in beer parlours and are being compared to hunters; where our roads are death traps. This is the reason why Nigerians want change, we can give Nigerians the change they deserve. You people came out because you believe in change, you believe in a nation bound in freedom, peace and unity, you believe that our nation can serve as a leader in Africa.”

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