By Kingsley Omonobi
General Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja declared his intention to contest next year’s presidential election on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), with a pledge to make genuine effort to tackle the problems of the Niger Delta from the roots.
“The roots of the problems are corruption and the failure of the Nigerian elite to understand the grievances and deep-seated feeling of the people of Niger Delta,” he said.
The CPC presidential aspirant spoke in the presence of a large number of leaders of several opposition parties on several issues, including the attempts to forge an alliance with other parties.
Buhari said opposition parties had arrived at the conclusion that they must come together to overthrow the ruling PDP from power.
At the event were former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu of PPA, former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), and Charles Nwodo of Progressive Action Congress (PAC) and Prince Tony Momoh.
Describing the last 12 years of the country’s democratic experience under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a catalogue of betrayals and bungled opportunities, Buhari expressed his loss of faith in the nation’s judiciary, believing it had compromised and did not act independently in upholding the 2003 election of Olusegun Obasanjo and the 2007 election of Umaru Yar’Adua.
His words: “Our experiences at the polls are supported by credible reports from several independent, local and international observers and showed clearly that those elections were not transparent, credible, free or fair. Nor did they reflect the true will of the people.”
Recalling the judgment of the Supreme Court in the 2007 election, he said, “In the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it hardly conformed with the idea of justice and it creates the common feeling that the judiciary was not acting independently.
“This time, we are not going to court”, he said. “Democracy cannot survive if its operators refuse to play by the rules and those in authority continually conspire to subvert the system.
“Unfortunately, this country witnessed in 2003 and 2007 elections that were characterized by massive fraud, unprecedented in electoral exercises in this country.”
On the vexed issue of the Niger Delta crisis, he regretted that it has been allowed to turn into a full scale and sophisticated insurgency rather than the government proffering solutions to the grievances of the people of region.
According to him, “The situation has escalated from random vandalisation of pipelines, often dismissed as the work of hoodlums, to full scale sophisticated insurgency. They are well armed, have their website and established coherent communication network to both local and international media.”
Consequently, he said, “If elected as president, my promise is to engage the region’s people in dialogue. We intend to make genuine effort to tackle the problems of Niger Delta from the roots.
“The roots of the problems are corruption and the failure of the Nigerian elite to understand the grievances and deep-seated feeling of the people of Niger Delta.”
He said he was still awaiting the recommendation of his party’s committee headed by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari currently in negotiation talk with the ACN.
Also speaking at the occasion, former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu said he has aligned forces with Buhari because only the general had the capacity to ensure the change Nigerians deserved.
He said, “Nobody is going to court again”, pointing out that instead, “We will take to the streets until they give us our mandate.”
“I believe in change as I align myself this afternoon with Gen. Buhari as an agent of change,” he said.
On his part, Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Party (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa said, “We find various things that we agree with in CPC. We find many things that we have to concretize. Therefore we look forward to a participative and democratic alliance for the progress of Nigeria.”