President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that former Lagos State governor and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will take full charge of his presidential campaign ahead of the February 16 election. The President stated this while inaugurating the 2019 APC Presidential Campaign Council in Abuja yesterday.
Tinubu is the co-chairman of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). Speaking at the brief ceremony, President Buhari said although he will be deeply involved in the campaigns traversing all parts of Nigeria, he would not allow governance issues to suffer during the period. According to him, Tinubu is expected to be on a 24-hour vigil to ensure that the campaign leads himself and the party to victory.
He said: “Even though we have only 40 days, this campaign is going to task us all, because we intend to touch all corners of our great and vast country. But I must also add that, though we will all be deeply involved, I would like to assure the nation that I will do my part without making governance or my work suffer. “Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, my co-chairman, will be fully in charge, and is going to be on 24-hour vigil. “I, therefore, urge all of us in the leadership of this campaign, in the field operations on the campaign trail and in the secretariat to consult with Asiwaju whenever guidance is needed,” Buhari noted. The President stressed that the operational buck of this campaign stops at the table of the APC national leader. He told members of the APC at the event that his campaign and that of the party would be anchored on the performance of the government in the last four years. President Buhari said as part of his commitment to credible, free and fair elections, he has already directed relevant security agencies participating in the election to avoid intimidation of voters.
The President’s remarks, in this direction, is coming few weeks after the deployment of Operation Python Dance III nationwide by the Nigerian Army for the election, a development which has sparked off criticism from the opposition parties. Buhari, who heads the PCC as chairman, also assured that “we will keep insisting that votes must count.” He said: “We have insisted that votes must count and have maintained a policy of non-interference in elections. “INEC has so far since 2015 conducted fair and credible elections in 195 constituencies nationwide, which have been attested nationwide to be qualitatively better than previous elections. “Let me reiterate my commitment to free and fair elections. If there is one legacy I want to leave, it is the enthronement of democracy as a system of government. “For democracy to be enthroned, elections must be free and fair. That means citizens have a right to vote for candidates of their choice without intimidation in any form. I have warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to that effect.
“We will keep insisting that votes must count. Our campaigns will be anchored on our performance in the last four years.” The President said APC has undoubtedly succeeded in taking Nigeria to a new level of enduring peace, economic growth, political stability, justice and progress. Buhari assured that his government has, in the last three years and six months, reversed the downward slide faced by the country as a result of bad governance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in its 16 years reign. He said the APC government under his leadership has restored the territorial integrity of the nation, thanks to the gallant men and women of the armed forces. His words: “This is the new level we are promising Nigerians, the details of which we will take to Nigerians as we embark on our campaigns. “We have, in the last three years and six months, reversed this downward slide that the PDP took us in its 16 years of misrule. We have restored the territorial integrity of our nation, thanks to our gallant men and women of our armed forces. We are systematically engaged in all the remaining corridors of insurgency, kidnappings, robberies, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes. “We have reset our national values: corruption is no longer condoned and is no longer seen as normal for public office holders. The agencies of government are no longer equivocal in dealing with anyone who flouts our laws.
“The high and low are receiving jail terms, loots are being recovered, and Nigerians are increasingly displaying the timeless values of honesty, honour and decency. I congratulate us all for making these changes possible. “Our economy has become a prudently managed enterprise. Our resources are now working for us, as we ensure the delivery of key national infrastructure, which were left unattended over these past years.” The President also urged all APC leaders and stakeholders to go about the campaign with all sense of decency. He said they must resist being provoked; remain focused and civil in the campaigns. “Let us engage our citizens on issues and ask for reflection on the comparative difference between 2015 and 2019 on security, economy and corruption and abuse by those entrusted with leadership in Nigeria,” the president said. Buhari also said that while the leadership of the party that has formulated the campaign policy would supervise its execution; the Director-General will have overall responsibility for all aspects of the campaign, including field operations, while the Secretary will be responsible for all administrative and treasury-related activities of the council. The President noted that a victory for himself and the party is a victory for all well-meaning Nigerians, who are committed to change from an inglorious past. Director General of the campaign council and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in his remarks, said the reason why the PDP says Nigerians are presently hungry is because of their bad governance and looting of public treasury. He challenged the PDP to tell Nigerians what they did with several stolen funds belonging to the people. “They should tell us what has happened to our money. We met an economy that was in crisis. Today, the economy is growing. “What we are pleading with Nigerians is to give us another four years so that we can consolidate. “I was in PDP and what was their slogan – ‘PDP, share the money’. Once we win, Nigerians will see public money and leave it there. Don’t give one vote to PDP, they are hungry, and can’t stand poverty,” Amaechi added.