Former military head of state, Muhammadu Buhari,yesterday formally joined the presidential race for the third time, pledging that he will not contest the result of the elections whatever the
Mr Buhari, who is contesting the 2011 polls on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change, the party he founded earlier in the year, said since he did not succeed at the court on two previous occasions, it will be a waste of time to go there again.
He was the presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003 and 2007. According to him, his experience as well as reports from several independent local and international observers, showed clearly that those elections were not transparent, credible, free or fair, nor did they reflect the true will of the people.
He said that as committed democrats, he and his supporters chose to toe the legal path in protesting these malpractices but regretted that the outcome was not encouraging.
"The judgement of the Supreme Court in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary hardly conformed to the idea of justice. The common feeling was that the judiciary was not acting independently," he said. Even though we disagreed with these rulings we accepted them as a decision of the highest court of the land so that people do not lose faith in the overall democratic system. This time we are not going to court. Once bitten...but in our case twice bitten..." Mr Buhari said that he joined the race again after three months of wide consultations through letters and by telephone calls to hundreds of people.
Betrayed and bungled
According to him, his involvement in democratic politics in the last nine years has not only led him to every part of the country, but has made him to engage in comprehensive and rewarding consultations with a wide spectrum of people throughout the country, and he was convinced that Nigerians deserve better and will respond to good leadership.
He added that after 12 years of democratic practice in the country, the PDP "administration's record is a catalogue of betrayal and serially bungled opportunities" while "poor and incompetent management has combined with pervasive corruption and bad faith to worsen poverty and unemployment." The former head of state said he is a strong believer in multi-party democracy because it offers the best opportunity in terms of security, equity, prosperity and progress as a nation, but lamented that "the conduct of Nigeria's leadership in the last twelve years has given democracy a bad name."
He argued that if the country is to enjoy the fruits of a modern democratic state, responsible leadership must ensure that governance is conducted transparently and effectively towards improving and not worsening the well being of its people.
Mr Buhari said his vision for the country centres on his strong belief that since it is the only country Nigerians have, they have to work together with him to salvage it.
"My vision of Nigeria iscentred on the strong belief in this country. We all know that our country has great potentials. This is the only country we have, so we should all work to salvage it. With our enormous human and natural resources, we need to develop a nation where all Nigerians can be party to the process. We must return to the era when honesty, hard work and discipline once again are virtues," he said.
He stated that apart from undertaking other developmental efforts to reposition the country, he will make a genuine effort to tackle the problems of Niger Delta. Mr Buhari attributed the roots of the problems in the region to corruption and the failure of the Nigerian elite to understand the grievances and deep-seated feeling of its people.
He also regretted that hoodlums in the region are not being treated as criminals and terrorists but as representatives of a community whose immediate environment produces the bulk of the foreign exchange earnings of the country.
According to Mr Buhari, "We are going to engage Niger Delta people together with knowledgeable Nigerians, experts and the oil companies to evolve a systematic solution to these festering crises so that the country can move forward. We will review the activities of the local, state and federal governments with respect to Niger Delta areas." Responding to a question on the alliance talks between the CPC and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr Buhari said it is in progress and that a report on it will be submitted to him soon by the head of his party's team, Aminu Bello Masari, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He asked other opposition parties to join him in forging an alliance to dislodge the Peoples Democratic Party from power. Mr Buhari also said that his party has no business with the decision of some northern members of the PDP to pick a consensus candidate to represent the region, saying CPC is a national party and our constituency is the Federal Republic of Nigeria."
Earlier in his speech, the CPC national chairman, Rufa'i Hanga said that Mr Buhari is the only presidential aspirant on the platform of the party so far, and that was the reason he attended the formal declaration of the aspirant.
Among those who delivered goodwill messages are a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, Balarabe Musa, Tony Momoh and Lanre Tejuoso.