President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja defied several appeals to him to reject the expression of interest and nomination forms purchased for him by the National Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN) and received the forms at a brief ceremony in the State House.
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Buhari, who said he was not only grateful but also honoured to be presented with the forms by persons he described as patriotic Nigerians, pointed out that members of the group contributed money to raise N45.5 million for the purchase of the forms.
He also said members of the group were not fewer than three million Nigerians, whom he said were spread across various parts of the country.
The president chronicled how his foray into politics began in 2002 up to the time of his election in 2015 and described members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who left the party, as the weakest of people whose selfish agenda did not align with the selfless vision of his administration.
According to him, with the exit of such selfish persons, APC is now made up of strong and patriotic Nigerians, whom he said were willing to toe the path of building a secure, self-sufficient and corrupt-free Nigeria.
“We now have a party of strong and patriotic individuals who are ready, willing and able to continue on this journey of building a strong, secure, self-sufficient, corrupt-free Nigeria,” he said.
The group had last Thursday bought the N45 million forms for the president, who is the sole presidential aspirant on the platform of APC.
Speaking in the banquet hall venue of the presentation, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the group, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwanjuba, described the group as a network of young persons, drawn from various fields of endeavour.
According to him, members of the group, whom he said were drawn from every ward of the existing 120,000 polling units across the country, made the contributions from the least of N68.00 and upward to enable them raise the money.
Further stating that members come from every geo-political zone of the country, Nwanjuba, who said the president had been given triple A rating, added that they took the decision because of outstanding leadership principles exhibited by Buhari, including what he described as his record performance in areas of security, economy, infrastructure delivery and financial prudence.
He said the young citizens who made up the group had opted to purchase the form for the president to encourage him to continue in his service to the country and also consolidate on what he had done so far.
He said, “These ambassadors whose network seeks to consolidate these gains and engrain this focus, then decided to contribute their intellect and little earnings towards ensuring that our president is encouraged to continue this service, being as it is now apparent the real beneficiaries of all the toil and tenacity of purpose that now radiates this leader.
“In spite of the hue and cry from a vociferous few whose stranglehold on our commonwealth has become somewhat dislodged, it is on account of the resolve of these ambassadors that they proceeded to obtain the nomination form for the president from the All Progressives Congress to encourage Mr. President to seek re-election for another term to help consolidate the work he is doing.”
Nwanjuba said contrary to an agitation that purchasing the form for the president was a clear violation of Section 91(9) of the Electoral Act; no law was broken after all, arguing that if any law had been broken, the president would not have accepted the form.
APC Adopts Buhari as Presidential Candidate
Meanwhile, the National Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Maimala Buni, yesterday in Abuja, said the party had adopted Buhari as its candidate for 2019 presidential election.
Answering questions from journalists at the State House, Buni, however, said any other member interested in the presidential race was free to pick the nomination form.
He emphasised that the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party had already endorsed the candidature of the president.
According to him, “Once the National Executive Committee of the party passes a vote of confidence on the president, that president stands accepted because the NEC is the highest organ of the party and it met to take the decision, where every interest was represented.
“So the NEC of APC has passed a vote of confidence on our president and that means every APC member has endorsed him.”
He also said the decision was not new, pointing out that it was the same standard that was obtainable in advanced democracies.
“In advanced democracies, once the NEC of a party passes vote of confidence on the president, nobody contests against the president. The president has been accepted,” he explained.
Buni also said the president would be given the right of first refusal, adding that having accepted the nomination form, it means that he is the party’s presidential candidate in next year’s election.
As at close of collection of nomination forms yesterday, Buhari was the only aspirants that had the forms. The submission of the forms closes today.
Another Group Donates N56.8m to Buhari’s Campaign
In a related development, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria yesterday presented a cheque of N56.8million to the National Chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, as part of their contributions for the re-election bid of Buhari.
The group’s donation came just as Oshiomhole, who reacted to comments by the PDP and its presidential aspirants, said they were jittery ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The rice farmers, who were led on the visit to APC national secretariat by the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, and its National President, Aminu Goronyo, said their contribution was in appreciation for the over N100 billion loan facilities the President Buhari-led administration had given to the farmers.
Oshiomhole said Buhari had already won the presidential election with the support of 12.2million rice farmers across the country, who are registered voters.
In a statement yesterday by the Oshiomhole’s Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebegbulem, said Bagudu commended the efforts made so far by the Buhari administration to encourage rice farming in Nigeria, adding that “the efforts had yielded fruit as the cost of a bag of rice today is N13,000.”
He also said that most of the farmers are today millionaires.
Speaking against the background of criticism by the PDP over the donation of N45 million by a group to purchase expression of interest and nomination forms for the president, Oshiomhole, mocked the PDP, saying they were jealous of the support being enjoyed by President Buhari across the country.
He said: “our opponents who are jittery, when some faceless people contributed money for one of the aspirants of PDP. He looked at them and said I have enough to buy all of you, he cried a little bit just for the effect.
“Not a word was spoken in the media about the morality or the legality or illegality of it. I thought the media will ask what is the morality of those who have nothing giving to the rich. Not nothing.
“When our own president who does not have, some people deiced to raise money to buy his form, suddenly it became an issue that why should people buy nomination forms for aspirants.
Oshiomhole spoke of how the party arrived at the cost of nomination form, saying it had to explain to the president that the cost of conducting transparent primaries across the country will be very high and hard to meet.
“I told him that Sir, you have many admirers who will contribute the money,” Oshiomhole said.
He said in the case of President Buhari will need even more money to prosecute his election because of the party’s decision to hold direct primaries.
“But I am glad it is the confidence Nigerians have on the leadership of our President that different groups contributing money for his campaign,” he said.
While tackling the PDP, Oshiomhole accused the party of being involved in many scandals among which was the allegation that its administration once gave Nigerians poisonous rice.
“One of the scandal that we have had to deal with when I was governor, was when I had the honour to preside over a meeting of the governors and the former Customs Controller General was lamenting to us how people they granted waiver to import rice exceeded the quota they were given and imported more rice into the country and he claimed that they defrauded the federal government about N22billion in waivers and in excess of what they brought in.
“My quarrel with the PDP government, why today I celebrate the defeat of the PDP and I don’t hide it, those criminal act of poisonous rice being imported into Nigeria was done not through the back door.
“We saw PDP ministers lamenting that the rice in our markets were expired products and I asked, who elected them to lament? They allowed this expired rice into the country, they proceed to grant them waivers, they exceed the waivers they are given,” he said.