Nigeria’s president-elect Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday vowed tough action against Boko Haram and pledged reconciliation and inclusive government, in a speech after his dramatic election win. The 72-year-old has put tackling the Islamist militants at the heart of his presidential bid and left no room for doubt, as he was presented with a certificate confirming his victory.
“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,” he said in the capital, Abuja.
“We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism.” The former military ruler gave a snapshot of what his presidency will be like when he is formally inaugurated on May 29, seeking to set aside fears of retribution against his political rivals. He singled out President Goodluck Jonathan, his beaten opponent at the weekend elections, under whose watch Buhari claims that government corruption had reached epic proportions.
“Let me state clearly: President Jonathan has nothing to fear from me. He is a great Nigerian and still our president,” the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader said. Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had raised fears during the campaign that a Buhari presidency would mark a return to the autocratic rule of his military regime in the 1980s.
But Buhari preached a receptive government “for all Nigerians” that would work to eradicate the “evil” of corruption, stating: “There shall no longer be a ruling party again. “(The) APC will be a governing party. We shall faithfully serve. We shall never rule over the people as if they were subservient to government. “Our long night has past and the daylight of new democratic government has broken across the land.”
He added: “Democracy and the rule of law will be established in the land. Let’s put the past behind us, especially the recent past. We must forget our old battles and past grievances and forge ahead.” No-one would be above the law, he said, while democratic freedoms would be guaranteed and the government would work for his supporters, opponents and those who did not vote for him, he said.
“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. “You are all my people and I shall treat everyone of you as my own.”