John Alechenu and Olusola Fabiyi
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians not to return members of the Peoples Democratic Party, whom he described as “those who brought Nigeria to its knees from 1999-2015” back to power.
Buhari said this while submitting his expression of interest and nomination forms to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress at the National Secretariat of the APC, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Although the President did not expressly name the PDP, it was the ruling party from 1999-2015.
The President explained that he was at the party secretariat to seek nomination to contest the Presidential election in 2019.
He said, “I am here to put my name forward to seek nomination to contest the presidential election in 2019. I am taking this step as a sense of responsibility and the unquestionable desire to serve and protect the interest of all Nigerians.
“I am grateful to individuals and organisations that have contributed funds for me to buy the form. I assure them and the rest of Nigerians that if nominated and if elected, I shall continue to serve you to the best of my ability. Let me appeal to party members not to be complacent, but to mobilise and strategise to win the 2019 elections. We must not allow those who brought the country to its knees from 1999 to 2015 to come and take us back.”
In response, the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, after welcoming the President, said the party under his leadership was putting in place mechanisms to strengthen the party’s democratic credentials.
Oshiomhole said, “We promised to activate the membership data, update it, register more members because the party is a mass movement and because we want to be able to talk about the size of our party, we need to have evidence that can be verified by members and all.
“We have taken advantage of modern technology to produce what we think is the best or the first in Nigeria. As of last week when they started printing the membership register, we now have about 15.6 million registered APC members across the country.
“The system has been designed in such a way that from the comfort of any member’s room, you can cross-check your membership and the membership of anyone you want to verify without any effort.”
Thereafter, Oshiomhole presented the President with a membership card which he announced could not easily be forged, duplicated or printed by roadside printers.
He said, “We are very proud of this achievement because it fits into our mantra of change. We now have a digital membership register. The card will expire December 31, 2013. It is our belief that by then, technology would have improved and we will be able to improve on the card.”
The party chairman said each member was required to pay a N100 token to acquire one of the cards.
He also said the card would be required for the purpose of conducting a direct primary.
Oshiomhole said, “For the purpose of a direct primary, every member coming to vote will show his membership card which must correspond with the details on the register before he can vote.
“We decided to display these openly so that people will know that we have a basis to conduct a direct primary based on a membership register.
“Before I am misunderstood or misquoted, it goes to say that in spite of the fact that we have this credible membership register, it does not in any way modify or change the decision of NEC regarding the flexibility that was agreed to.
“At the NWC, we try to give practical expression as transparently as possible so that the party will not only be the largest, it will be smartest, the most democratic and the most cohesive.”
Nigerians won’t allow Buhari to ruin their future – PDP
In its reaction, the PDP described the more than three years of President Buhari’s stay in power as disastrous, saying Nigerians would not allow him to ruin their future.
According to the PDP, the President does not portend anything positive for the country and its citizens, wondering why he keeps on piling debts for generations unborn.
The National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with our correspondent, stated that the President was merely hallucinating by believing that Nigerians were still with him.
He said, “Nigerians will not allow the President to ruin their future. Parents whose salaries are being owed by the government under the regime of Mr Buhari will not allow the President to send them to their early grave.
“A government that is happy to hear that it’s citizens are hungry, unemployed and sad cannot be said to be serving their interest. Time is definitely up for the less than impressive performing President.
“Buhari’s government is that of a debt-loving one. Nigerians won’t allow him to ruin their future with the debts he keeps piling up every day without anything concrete to show for it.
“Nigerians cannot afford another four years under a tyrannical regime that does not obey the rule of law and that tramples on people’s rights. Enough of a heartless government.”