It has given me great delight to address you all today as our convention aimed at choosing our party’s candidate for the upcoming presidential poll in February takes place this weekend. I am quite aware of the present challenges besetting our dear nation but my administration is resolutely determined to meet them and make life better for our people. For the past seven years we have endeavoured to impose order, improve the economy, reduce corruption and frontally fight terrorism and insurgency. Thus far we have not done badly given the state of the nation prior to our election in 2015.
We know that things are relatively bad in terms of security and cost of living but we are doing the utmost to provide solutions. COVID-19 global pandemic and the on-going Russia/Ukraine war are having a negative impact on our socio-economic plans.
Before we came in, it bears repeating and emphasizing, Boko Haram and other terrorists had succeeded in occupying some local governments up north, freely imposing Sharia and collecting taxes. Today my administration has dealt a devastating blow to their capacity to inflict damage to the system and their conquest of territories by taking them back. Terrorism in general has been technically defeated but we have not had a total success yet.
Whoever claims he is killing or commiting arson or kidnapping for Allah is a criminal. We are all Muslims, Christians or animists and Allah is a God of love, peace and justice! We run a secular state and that is what the constitution says. No one, therefore, has a right to impose his will outside this fundamental national law of ours.
Corruption was a national disease afflicting almost every sector and department of governance at the States and the centre. Today through our coordinated efforts through the EFCC graft has reduced considerably. The anti-graft agencies have done a great job of arresting and prosecuting corrupt elements among us. Internet fraud (or 419) is receiving serious attention as the so-called Yahoo-Yahoo boys and girls had been cornered with billions of Naira worth of properties seized.
On the economy we have performed well relatively. Two recessions had hit this administration but we dutifully succeeded in coming out of same through diligent prudent management. Now, our economy, the largest in Africa, has bounced back to healthy growth.
The opposition (conventional and non-conventional) had accused my government of not doing enough to combat corruption. They said we are not tackling terrorism and that we are not working hard for the growth of the economy. That is their opinion and we respect that but we disagree with it all the same. When they were here for sixteen unbroken years they never did better than we are doing presently.
Nigeria remains a nationhood work in progress. No nation becomes great in a 8-year period! America became great after centuries of consolidated democratic engineering. Ditto France, Britain and Germany etc.
Development may be slow but steadily we are making some progress. We are attacking infrastructural deficiency becuase we believe that if we get it right infrastructurally then greatness is assured.
Fellow Nigerians, in February next year our people would be called to the polls to elect our successors — the President, Governors, Senators and members of the House of Representatives. The general elections are getting more and more interesting following the historic number of declared candidates in different parties. In our ruling APC party alone we have had dozens of qualified capable hands seeking to take the broom to continue the sweeping process.
As the primaries approach we must work harder and together to keep our party united and stronger before and after the primaries. If we allow divisions or internal wranglings creep in then winning the presidency may be a pipe dream.
As the incumbent President I dare say I have not anointed anyone to replace me! It is not in my character to impose people on the delegates or electorates. My Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is capable of leading us after my retirement. The National Leader of our party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, can preside over our country as my successor. Ex-Ministers Amaechi, Onu, Ngige have what it takes to take Nigeria to the next level. Governor Fayemi and ex-Chairman Oshiomhole are eminently qualified to be President.
Given this plethora of quality candidates I am hopeful that the next President would still be of the APC! Now, any of these men can go on and win in the primaries, I have no problem with that. Anyone that comes out victorious the party machinery would be deployed to ensure his triumph at the polls.
Compatriots, recent intelligence reports reaching me had indicated that our dectractors and some irresponsible opposition elements are sponsoring banditry, terrorism and kidnappings in order to discredit my administration in particular and the ruling party in general. They believe that with generalised insecurity (chaos) in the land they would snatch power from us! But that is not going to happen under my watch!
Yet I am convinced that our people know better. Politicizing insecurity is not in our policies and programmes of governance. Rather, we are working hard, day and night, to bring lasting solutions.
Chairman Adamu had increased the price of expression of interest form of our party to a hundred million Naira in order to discourage unserious candidates but that has not discouraged anyone. Enough money has been raised through that deft political move for us to be able to prosecute our campaign leading to the election early next year.
Even before my successor emerges a year from now I promise to do more, to do my best towards repositioning our great country for greatness. As I have said I have no third term ambition of any kind. I have concluded plans of retiring to my cows in Daura as from the end of May next year. Age is no longer on my side, hence my decision to quit the national politics at the expiration of my second mandate.
On the rumour of the so-called cabal trying to conscript ex-President Goodluck Jonathan into the race as a ‘consensus’ candidate of the APC I would say I have no knowledge of such scheme. GEJ remains a gentleman and a patriotic great Nigerian to whom we owe respect and admiration for his democratic convictions. He would issue an official statement to that effect if necessary in due course.
Country men and women, compatriots, this is about my stand on my successor. May the best candidate win and represent our party in the poll. Whoever wins at the imminent convention would receive our collective support continuing from where we must have stopped.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!