WHY ARE WE HERE
I am honoured to be here with you today because we are here to fulfil a great purpose.
Before going further, I commend the various groups working for President Buhari’s re-election for uniting under one umbrella, the National Committee of Buhari Support Groups. We are working for the same cause and are of the same family. Thus, it is only fitting and proper that we join in cooperation & harmony so that we accomplish this important mission to the best of our ability, without confusion or internal strife.
As free-minded people, you could be anywhere doing whatever you wanted. Instead, you chose to be here because you care about this country and its future.
You chose to be patriotic. That is why you are here. You chose to do what is best for your children and your children’s children. That is why we are here.
We are here to work to reelect President Buhari because he is what is best for Nigeria.
President Buhari is committed to building the necessary foundation for a prosperous nation and diversified economy that will provide employment and fair opportunity for all. He has no tolerance for corruption and is vigorously ridding the nation of this blemish on our reputation. He fights the terrorists and is not afraid to tackle the hardest challenges of governance.
The PDP and their candidate had vast money at their disposal and they did nothing with it during their 16-year reign of waste. They created no jobs and the only opportunities they promoted were their plans for looting the national treasury. They failed to bring social welfare for the poor because they forgot all about the poor. There was no serious problem they resolved. Every national problem became a friend to them that they used as an excuse to skim from the public purse.
Instead of building Nigeria they belittled it. They consumed the years of plenty and depleted the national storehouse. They now ask for the keys to that store house so they can return to the scene of their malfeasance. They seek to come back not to repair what they did but to repeat it.
We will not allow that to happen because we prefer progress over regression. We are here because we support honest government that will bring peace, justice and prosperity to all.
That you believe in these noble pursuits and are willing to devote your time to bringing them to pass shows that you possess the compassionate zeal to help move our nation forward. President Buhari is the man to lead us on this historic task.
So, again I commend you for being here and for committing yourself to this important mission of reelecting our dear president. I count you as among the important pillars President Buhari is assembling to build a new and better Nigeria.
As such you are part of a historic undertaking of benign consequence. Faced with the decision to make negative or positive history, you have taken the humane and progressive option. Sadly, some of our fellow Nigerians have been deluded into believing the PDP’s attempt to return to its sordid past is somehow the best way to our future.
You know better and that is why we are here. We are here to organize and to pull the PDP veil from the eyes of these people so that they are no longer the victims of trickery and deception.
Nigeria has already sacrificed too many years to the party trademarked by Plunder, Destruction and Poverty. We cannot allow the county to fall back into their hands for that means the country will sink back into a darkness of injustice, corruption and avarice that bears nothing but ill for us all.
So when people ask you why you belong to this group, tell them that you are part of a rescue mission that began in 2015 and that we will not relent or retreat until Nigeria has become what destiny says our nation should be. If they hold Nigeria dear, they too will join us in this good endeavor. If they chose not to join, that is their democratic prerogative. However, they should step aside and get out of our way, for we have a great job to do and we have the irresistible momentum of history and destiny propelling us forward.
The train is preparing to leave the station. Those who want a better Nigeria better climb on board for this is a special type of train. The more people join the train, the faster it moves toward its appointed destination.
Our opponents’ only hope is that the people have no memory. They hope to lie to the people about what they did when they were in power and who they presently are.
So why are we here? To remind the people of the 16 years of cold-hearted neglect suffered at the hands of successive PDP governments. To remind the people that in four years and with fewer resources, President Buhari has created a better foundation for Nigeria’s future than all the PDP governments combined. One Buhari is worth more than the three PDP presidents who preceded him.
To trade our President Buhari in for a re-tread former PDP VP would be an awful exchange indeed.
The PDP Standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar, has changed parties so many times and collected so many membership cards. He could build a house of the party membership cards he has accumulated. But one thing he should remember is that a man who builds a house of cards ought not to cast stones at a man who is building a house with a firm and true foundation.
He should also realize that such a feeble house will collapse as soon as the wind of truth blows on it. You, my friends, are that wind of truth.
Atiku was with the PDP, with us, with another party then back with the PDP. He is a political merry go round and carnival all by himself. Ask him which party he belong to you, he must ask you what “year is it” before he dare answer. Ask himthe direction he is going, he will answer “North, South, East and West at the same time.”
Any man who intends ongoing everywhere at the same time is a man intent on going nowhere. Atiku has every right to engage in such personal confusion. But he has no ethical right to try to substitute his personal confusion for our national mission.
Just look at his relationship with his former boss, Obasanjo. At one point, the one despised the other. Obasanjo said he had asked God not to allow Atiku to become President. If Obasanjo once asked God to prevent Atiku, we are entitled to wonder into whose ear does Obasanjo now whisper his support for Atiku’s venal cause?
You are here to remind the people what the PDP wrought in 16 years. They had unprecedented resources and money to bring power to Nigeria. They claimed to have invested one billion dollars in electrical power for each year they were in office.
At the end of this long trail, they improved power generation not at all. 16 billion dollars was the price we paid for a sojourn into greater darkness. An ordinarily incompetent government can give you darkness for no extra costs. It takes a monumentally corrupt and inept group to burn a mountain as high as 16 billion dollars and not produce the slightest spark of light in the process.
The PDP federal and state governments racked up over 63 billion dollars in debt. The PDP distorted financial markets by out-borrowing the private sector. Yet they left salaries unpaid, pensioners were left abandoned and some made homeless by PDP neglect. Infrastructure projects went uncompleted.
Funds intended to make the nation safe from Boko Haram were diverted for pecuniary gains. Over 400 billion dollars in earnings between 2010 and 2014 was squandered, creating a false sense of economic wellbeing that quickly vanished at the first sign of decline in oil prices.
Ask yourselves what this election is about. President Buhari has put corruption on its heels. Under the PDP, it was unofficial policy. Under Buhari, it is a crime that will not be tolerated.
He has tackled Boko Haram. Yes, Boko Haram is still there and at times can attack hard in some areas. However, that harbinger of terror no longer plants its flag on our soil nor does it claim to have established a caliphate as it did over Nigerian territory before 2015 because the last PDP government was either too scared or lazy to properly defend our people and our soil.
In areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, education and social welfare, President Buhari has laid the foundation for a diversified economy that will bring broadly shared prosperity throughout Nigeria for years to come.
Though equipped with less revenue than the PDP governments, President Buhari bailed out states to ensure that salaries were paid so that state and local economies would not collapse and he did this for all states regardless of partisan affiliation.
If PDP members were truthful to themselves, they would admit their poor record. If they truly loved the country, they would stand aside to allow President Buhari to get on with the job of resolving our nation’s challenges. For they would have to admit that their attempt to perform this job ended in abject failure.
However, they seek to obstruct the way of progress. They do this because the Nigeria of which we all dream is the Nigeria they do not want. They want a Nigeria where the many serve and cater to the few. They want a Nigeria where common folk go without and a privileged few go with too much.
They want a Nigeria where stealing is not corruption and corruption is not a crime and stealing is only wrong if you are dumb enough to be caught by a foreign government. They want a Nigeria where there is no right and no wrong but one where money and power dispose of all questions and end all inquiries.
They want to live in a land of false opulence and true greed one where the weight of all their waste and the impunity of their misconduct is borne on the backs of the common man and woman.
This is what the coming election is about. They claim to be a “reformed PDP” then they select as their candidate Obasanjo’s VP who took the term “privatization” to its literal extreme. Through plotting contrived sales of national assets to himself, Atiku sought to turn half of Nigeria into his own private property. He sought to run off with the goose that laid the golden egg while simultaneously staying put in order to milk dry the national cow. If given a second chance at the national till, he will consume all he did not take the first go around.
This is not reform. It is regression. Whosoever tells you the path to your better future is to return to your worst past is more dedicated to your demise than your development.
The PDP has nothing to offer you that show they want a better Nigeria. All they can do is harken to yesterday as if such a journey were possible.
For example, they pour out false tears and foment tension regarding the herder/farmer crisis. However, when it was in their power to resolve this matter, they lifted not a finger for 16 years. They let the problem fester and worsen year by year. They did little because they cared not.
But this president will not turn away from a national problem. President Buhari is doing what a statesman and true leader would do. He seeks to resolve the problem in ways that improve the lives of all involved so that this crisis will be forever removed from us.
To bring prosperity and to quell conflict, he knows we must modernize and make more productive, as well as more complementary, both livestock rearing and farming.
Under his approach, farmers will be assisted to increase their output per hectare. Modern implements and crop strategies will be employed.
The President is using his good offices to do the unprecedented. He is urging herders to transition from traditional modes of grazing in order to tend to their cattle in specially designated areas. This is revolutionary yet also a practical observation that global climatic forces compel us to adapt to a changing reality.
Government will help this transition by ensuring these areas have adequate natural feed and water.
By doing this, the President will eliminate the cause of friction between farmer and herder. But also, he will help farmers increase their income by producing more crops per each parcel of land. This will help consumer food prices as well.
Herders will come to see that this more scientific approach will produce healthier, more robust and larger cattle. There will be more meat and milk for the herder to use or take to the market for the benefit of children and families across the breadth of Nigeria, helping put an end to the hunger that now troubles many of them.
In time, the skin of these more robust cattle, can help revitalize our leather-based industries and the production of shoes, handbags, wallets and other items. Even the animal manure can be converted to fertilizer to now help the farmers with whom the herders were in conflict. Meanwhile, farmers will come to realize that some of the byproducts of their crops can be used as cattle feed. Farmer incomes will be enhanced by production of grains for livestock feeding. Throughout this process of increased agricultural production, silos and grain reserves will be established for the benefit of long-term food security and price management.
The PDP can only clamor and break glass, screaming that a problem exists. Because we have dedicated ourselves to fixing the problem, we are not afraid of the PDP’s contrived grumblings. We can proudly say that where they folded their hands for 16 years, we are in active search of a humanitarian yet prudent solution that betters the lives of both farmer and herder while bolstering the national economy.
This is how a real government goes about the business of the people. President Buhari is the first president we have who has recognized the full impact climate change has throughout Nigeria. For the herder crisis is not a story of religious conflict. The Quran is not fighting the Bible nor is the Bible fighting the Quran. They are both manuals of peace and brotherly love.
Instead, this is a tale of too little water and fertile land. In such situations, love and peace are strained. This lack has pitted farmer and herder as never before. These people contend against each other to protect their endangered livelihoods. By incident of history, they happen to be of different faiths and ethnic groups.
In addition to working on environmental degradation in the Niger Delta, this government will set out to erect a network of irrigation and water catchment systems that will stem the encroachment of the desert. These innovations will help mitigate the destructive cycle of flood and drought that now bother areas of our country.
Already we have mentioned how the PDP spent 16 billion dollars in order to make darkness our most common commodity. The only diligent work the PDP did while in power was to spread this public disservice across the land.
What the PDP did regarding infrastructure was equally dismal. President Buhari has again outdone in 4 years what they did not do in 16.
Significant progress has been made in the area of road and rail networks and port access. On the rail network, we should continue with rail modernization investment (standard gauge) while finalizing work on the concession of the narrow gauge.
To improve road access, we need to expand the model of using the NSIA to fund the repair of strategic roads. On port access, an alternative access to Apapa is desirable (by developing Tin Can Road, Inland Waterways and Rail System). The development of alternative ports must also be accorded top priority.
I have purposefully saved for the end, the most telling difference between President Buhari and the PDP confederacy. This is the area of social welfare.
This man who people said was aloof and insensitive, has launched the most ambitious social welfare programs by a federal government in our nation’s history.
Showing his love and compassion for the poor and humble, he has accomplished this during a time of dwindling revenues due to the collapsed oil prices.
The hallmarks of these social programs have been the school feeding and the stipends for the most destitute. The school feeding program has encouraged hundreds of thousands of children to attend school. Now these beautiful kids are guaranteed at least one solid meal a day. With their stomachs full and no longer aching from the pangs of hunger, they can better fill their brains with the education and the dreams needed to help them break out of poverty and become the fulcrum of progress for the next generation.
The feeding program is about more than food. It is a demonstration of this government’s compact with the people. Unlike the PDP, this government was established to serve the people and not have the people serve the government as was the PDP’s malign way.
The stipends too have rescued many families from the direst poverty. Giving a caring parent the ability to put some food on the table in front of their loving children brings a solace beyond anything words can describe. Over 12 million of our people have been touched by the benevolent hand of social welfare and enterprise development. As such, our President has been father to many.
Better still, he wants to do more. As we move the economy forward, we realize that prosperity and jobs will not come to everyone at the same time. There will be some lag. President Buhari wants to expand the social safety net to cover more of these people until the benefits of a growing economy reach them in earnest.
While President Buhari worries himself daily about the plight of our people, Atiku and the PDP feast of their desire for power just for the sake of having power. They care not so they will do not.
Thus we have a decision to make. Do we sit still, allowing them to carry us backward into the past or do we stand in unified support of a leader and a man who loves this land and the people of it?
The answer is not a hard one but the work which follows will be hard.
The other side will marshal all of their ample resources because they know it is their last chance to throw us back to the past. Four more years of progressive government by the APC, they and their party will be done.
They now blitz the public with lies and falsities. They have desperate energy and greedy money on their side fueling their campaign of untruth.
What we have is greater still. We have the truth, the love of the people and we have President Buhari. That is a winning combination if we work as we ought.
I urge, I beseech, you to go out across our beloved nation to explain these great and beneficial things President Buhari has done and will continue to do. Tell it to the people you well know; more importantly, tell it to all the people you shall soon meet. That this Nigeria is theirs but only if they continue with a president who thinks more about them than about himself.
That man is President Buhari.
Thank You and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
*Keynote address by All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the National Consultative Forum by the National Committee of Buhari Support Groups at NICON Luxury Hotel, Abuja on Tuesday, December 4, 2018.