By Joseph Erunke, Jude Opara & Levinus Nwabughiogu
My contract with Nigerians, by Buhari
ABUJA — The President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), yesterday, laid down a contract with Nigerians underpinned by a commitment to restore the dignity of all Nigerians irrespective of partisan considerations.
Buhari, who spoke in Abuja while receiving his Certificate of Return from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, pledged, as part of the contract, to frontally tackle societal malaises that had hindered the country’s growth, among which he listed corruption, terrorism and degradation of values.
Earlier in the wee hours of the day, Buhari had, while formally accepting his declaration as president-elect commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his sportsman-like disposition during the contest.
He spoke to hundreds of party supporters, who camped throughout the night in front of the party secretariat in anticipation of the declaration.
Buhari went along with his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who also received his certificate of return as vice-president elect.
Ours’ll be a governing, not ruling party
Speaking after he was given the certificate of return as president-elect, he said Nigerian people will no longer be treated by their leaders as subservient, adding that under his administration, there will no longer be ruling party because the APC will only be the governing party.
Corruption’ll not be tolerated
On corruption, the president-elect said: “We shall strongly battle another form of evil that is even worse than terrorism —the evil of corruption. Corruption attacks and seeks to destroy our national institutions and character. By misdirecting into selfish hands funds intended for the public purpose, corruption distorts the economy and worsens income inequality. It creates a class of unjustly-enriched people.
“Such an illegal yet powerful force soon comes to undermine democracy because its conspirators have amassed so much money that they believe they can buy government. We shall end this threat to our economic development and democratic survival. I repeat that corruption will not be tolerated by this administration; and it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this nation.”
Jonathan has nothing to fear
Buhari, however, extended a hand of fellowship to President Goodluck Jonathan, saying despite their differences during the campaign period he bears no grudges against him.
He said: “Despite the rancour of the elections, I extend a hand of friendship and conciliation to President Jonathan and his team. I hereby wish to state that I harbour no ill will against anyone.
“Let me state clearly that President Jonathan has nothing to fear from me. Although we may not agree on the methods of governing the nation, he is a great Nigerian and still our president. He deserves our support and permanent respect by virtue of the office he has held. This is how an honourable nation treats its servants and conducts its affairs; and this is how Nigeria should be.”
I’ll work for those who voted for and against me
He also reassured all and sundry that his government will not be biased against anybody on the basis of religion, tribe or ethnicity, promising that he will be a president for everybody including those who do not support his aspiration.
General Buhari said: “I pledge myself and our in-coming administration to just and principled governance. There shall be no bias against or favouritism for any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion, region, gender or social status.
“I pledge myself and the government to the rule of law, in which none shall be so above the law that they are not subject to its dictates, and none shall be so below it that they are not availed of its protection.
“You shall be able to go to bed knowing that you are safe and that your constitutional rights remain in safe hands. You shall be able to voice your opinion without fear of reprisal or victimisation.
“My love and concern for this nation and what I desire for it extend to all, even to those who do not like us or our politics. You are all my people and I shall treat everyone of you as my own.
“I shall work for those who voted for me as well as those who voted against me and even for those who did not vote at all. We all live under one name as one nation: we are all Nigerians.”
Boko Haram’ll soon know the strength of our collective will
The former military head of state also commented on the insurgency that has ravaged parts of the country, promising that with the support of all Nigerians, the common enemies of the country will be defeated.
He said: “Our nation wrestles many challenges including insecurity, corruption, and economic decline. I pledge to give you my best in tackling these problems.
“The good people of Nigeria, your obligation does not end with casting your ballot. I seek your voice and input as we tackle these problems. This will not be a government democratic only in form. It will be a government democratic in substance and in how it interacts with its own people.
“No doubt, this nation has suffered greatly in the recent past, and its staying power has been tested to its limits by crises, chief among which is insurgency of the Boko Haram. There is no doubt that in tackling the insurgency we have a tough and urgent job to do. But I assure you that Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas. We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism.”
Thanks past leaders, others
The incoming president also thanked past leaders of Nigeria for their role in strengthening the country in times of crisis, just as he thanked members of the international community including President Barack Obama of the Unites States of America, the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for their interest in the affairs of Nigeria.
Those who were present at the presentation ceremony included the chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun; National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu; Governors Rochas Okorocha, Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole, Magatakarda Wamakko and Ibikunle Amosun of Imo, Rivers, Edo, Sokoto and Ogun States respectively as well as other party chieftains.
Extends hand of friendship to Jonathan
Earlier, while speaking to party supporters after receiving news of his declaration as president-elect, Buhari had said:
“President Jonathan engaged in a spirited campaign and was a worthy opponent. I extend my hand of fellowship to him. I look forward to meeting him soon as we plan the transition from one administration to another. He will receive nothing but understanding, co-operation and respect from me and my team.
“The good people of Nigeria, answered the call of history. When the account of this fine moment is written, it will be said that it was the people themselves who led this nation to democracy.
“You stood in line patiently for hours in the sun, rain and then in the dark to cast your ballots. Even when the vote was extended to Sunday in some places, you still performed your civic duty. You did so peacefully. You voted with your heart. Your vote affirms that you believe Nigeria’s future can be better than what it is today. You voted for change and now change has come.
“I thank all Nigerians who have made this day possible.”
Our country has now joined the community of nations that have used the ballot box to peacefully change an incumbent President in a free and fair election. To me this is indeed historic.
“Most people will welcome the result because it is the one they voted for. Others will naturally be disappointed. I ask that we all be circumspect, respectful and peaceful in these times.
“This was a hard- fought contest. Emotions are high. We must not allow them to get the better of us. This is not the time for confrontation. This is a moment that we must begin to heal the wounds and work toward a better future. We do this first by extending a hand of friendship and conciliation across the political divide. We hope and pray our friends in other parties reciprocate.