I will be fair to all, says Buhari
• Resolves to tackle graft, Boko Haram
• Says no grudges against Jonathan
PRESIDENT–ELECT Muhammadu Buhari, who yesterday received his Certificate of Return from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, said he has no bias against any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion and gender.
In an acceptance speech, Buhari who was accompanied by his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, reiterated his resolve to tackle the menace of corruption, which he said is mainly responsible for the backwardness of Nigeria.
In a strongly worded speech, he said his government would have zero-tolerance for those who have been holding hapless Nigerians captive over the years with the proceeds of corruption. Clad in a sky-blue agbada and cap to match, Buhari assured that he would stop at nothing to crush the Boko Haram terrorist group when he assumes the helm of affairs of the country.
At the occasion where a minute’s silence was observed in honour of those who lost their lives across the country in the course of celebrating the APC victory at the polls, he pledged that under his administration, democracy and the rule of law will be re-established in the land.
In the speech entitled: “The Die is Cast”, he vowed that he would surely live up to the expectations of Nigerians who defied all odds to ensure a transfer of power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) to the incoming All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration through the ballot box.
Part of the speech reads: “Our nation wrestles with many challenges including insecurity, corruption, and economic decline. I pledge to give you my best in tackling these problems. The good people of Nigeria, your obligation does not end with casting your ballot. I seek your voice and input as we tackle these problems. This will not be a government democratic only in form. It will be a government democratic in substance and in how it interacts with its own people.
“No doubt, this nation has suffered greatly in the recent past, and its staying power has been tested to its limits by crises, chief among which is insurgency of the Boko Haram. There is no doubt that in tackling the insurgency we have a tough and urgent job to do.
But 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 and normalcy to all the affected areas.
“We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism. Furthermore, we shall strongly battle another form of evil that is even worse than terrorism—the evil of corruption.
‘‘Corruption attacks and seeks to destroy our national institutions and character. By misdirecting into selfish hands funds intended for the public purpose, corruption distorts the economy and worsens income inequality.
“It creates a class of unjustly-enriched people. Such an illegal yet powerful force soon comes to undermine democracy because its conspirators have amassed so much money that they believe they can buy government. We shall end this threat to our economic development and democratic survival. I repeat that corruption will not be tolerated by this administration; and it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this nation.
“I ask you to join me in resolving these and the other challenges we face. Along the way, there will be victories but there may also be setbacks. Mistakes will be made. But we shall never take you for granted; so, be rest assured that our errors will be those of compassion and commitment not of willful neglect and indifference.
“We shall correct that which does not work and improve that which does. We shall not stop, stand or idle. We shall, if necessary crawl, walk and run to do the job you have elected us to do. I realise that the expectation of our people today is as high as their commitment to change, has been strong and their belief in us unshaken. While we pledge to begin doing our best without delay, we would like to appeal to them to appreciate the gravity of our situation, so that we become more realistic in our expectations. We will govern for you and in your interests.
“Your vote was not wasted. This is not the first time Nigerians have cast their votes for us, and this is not the first time they have been counted; but this is the first time that the votes have been allowed to count. With the help of God, we pledge to do our utmost to bring forth the Nigeria you seek.”
He continued: “We shall faithfully serve you. We shall never rule over the people as if they were subservient to government. Our long night has passed and the daylight of new democratic governance has broken across the land. This therefore is not a victory for one man or even one party. It is a victory for Nigeria and for all Nigerians. Millions of you have worked for this day.
So many have risked life and livelihood; and others have died that we may witness this moment. And it is with a very heavy heart that I report many deaths and injuries amidst the jubilations yesterday. We send our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives; and wish speedy recovery to those who suffered injuries.
“Let us put the past, especially the recent past, behind us. We must forget our old battles and past grievances—and learn to forge ahead. I assure you that our government is one that will listen to and embrace all. I pledge myself and our in-coming administration to just and principled governance.
There shall be no bias against or favouritism for any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion, region, gender or social status.
“I pledge myself and the government to the rule of law, in which none shall be so above the law that they are not subject to its dictates, and none shall be so below it that they are not availed of its protection.
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.
“My love and concern for this nation and what I desire for it extends to all, even to those who do not like us or our politics. You are all my people and I shall treat everyone of you as my own. I shall work for those who voted for me as well as those who voted against me and even for those who did not vote at all. We all live under one name as one nation: We are all Nigerians.”
Giving an insight on his foreign policy would look like, he said: “I assure all foreign governments that Nigeria will become a more forceful and constructive player in the global fight against terrorism and in other matters of collective concern, such as the fight against drugs, climate change, financial fraud, communicable diseases and other issues requiring global response.
“I want to assure our fellow African nations that Nigeria will now stand as a more constructive partner in advancing the matters of concern to our continent, particularly with regard to economic development and eradication of poverty.”
Recalling the rancour that trailed the elections, he extended a hand of friendship and conciliation to President Jonathan and his team, adding he harbour no ill will against anyone.
He added: “Let me state clearly that President Jonathan has nothing to fear from me. Although we may not agree on the methods of governing the nation, he is a great Nigerian and still our president. He deserves our support and permanent respect by virtue of the office he has held. This is how an honourable nation treats its servants and conducts its affairs; and this is how Nigeria should be.
“I look forward to meeting with President Jonathan in the days to come to discuss how our teams can make the transition of administrations as efficient as possible.”
He thanked religious leaders, traditional leaders, the media, labour unions, civil society organisations, organised private sector, youths and students for their roles in this election.
He also applauded INEC, the police and all other government agencies for performing their tasks in a proper manner and for refusing to be induced to undermine the election and the democratic process.
At the occasion graced by APC controlled states-governors, candidates and members of the National Assembly, he particularly singled out leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, Ibrahim Babangida, and heads of state, Yakubu Gowon, Abdulsalami Abubakar for their statesmanlike -roles in ensuring the peaceful conduct of the poll.
He also extended special thanks to President Obama and his timely intervention and support for peaceful and credible elections in Nigeria and for sending Secretary John Kerry and other United States officials.
The European Union – especially the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United Nations Secretary General Mr. Ban-Ki Moon. The Commonwealth, China, India and other Asian and Gulf states for their roles in the peaceful conduct of the poll.
Furthermore, he thanked the African Union and ECOWAS, former Presidents John Kuffour, Amos Sawyer and Bakili Muluzi for their support while the electoral process lasted.