Former Head of State and frontline presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, is set to clinch the presidential ticket of the party at the National Convention which began on Wednesday at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
Already, inside sources said that 12 serving governors of the party have thrown their weight behind the presidential bid of Buhari.
A top party source who doesn’t want his name in print, said the governors rising from a meeting that lasted for more than three hours also vowed to stop the ambition of fomer Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to emerge the flagbearer of the party.
He said the governors were unhappy with the way and manner Atiku had been going about inducing the delegates with money to secure their votes.
He also said the governors believed that even if Atiku should emerge the candidate of the party, he would not be a good match for President Goodluck Jonathan who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“The governors just finished a meeting where they all expressed displeasure at the way Atiku has been going about doling out money to the delegates to get their votes. They have however decided to stop him because they believe he will not be able to match President Goodluck Jonathan in February 2015 general election,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Buhari has urged the party’s delegates not to be motivated by money in the choice of the party’s presidential candidate, noting that the fate of Nigeria is too important to be sold for peanuts.
In a statement issued before the commencement of the exercise, Buhari said he wants to be the next president of Nigeria because he believed he has something to offer Nigeria at this time of multiple crises.
“As you gather for our convention, please remember that history, change and the hopes of Nigeria are there with you. They are there to ask you to perform according to your best judgment and patriotic conscience. I also ask you to do the same.
“We seek a new Nigeria. It starts with us. It starts today. I have placed myself before you seeking your help to nominate me as your standard bearer for our progressive party, APC.
“Personal ambition does not drive me in this regard. I seek to be the next president of our beloved nation because I believe I have something to offer Nigeria at this time of multiple crises.
“Insecurity, corruption, and economic collapse have brought the nation low. Time is due that we work together to lift Nigeria up. I am ready to lead Nigeria to its rightful future”.
“I have always served Nigeria to the best of my ability. I have always tried to give more to the nation than it has given me. This is the principle of service that has guided my public life. Thus, I am not a rich person. I can’t give you a pocketful of dollars or naira to purchase your support. Even if I could, I would not do so. The fate of this nation is not up for sale,” he stated.
Stressing the need for the party delegates to elect him as APC presidential candidate, Buhari promised to govern Nigeria democratically if elected as next President of Nigeria.
His words: “What I will give you and this nation is all of my strength, commitment, sweat and toil in the service of the people. What I can give you is my all. I do not intend to rule Nigeria. I want to democratically govern it with your help.
“I seek a Nigeria where Christians and Muslims may practise their faiths in peace and security; a Nigeria that is just and where corruption no longer trespasses into our institutions and national behaviour and a Nigeria where our diversity could be used for our national prosperity,” he said.
“Nigeria is our home. Let us now turn it into the great nation we know it can and should be,” he stated.
As at 8 p.m. when the programme was scheduled to start on Wednesday, delegates were still trickling into the venue.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the APC National Convention Committee and former Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, has said the party was prepared to conduct a transparent and credible primary election that would lead to the emergence of its presidential candidate.
Fayemi who spoke to newsmen after touring the Teslim Balogun Stadium, venue of the convention on Wednesday, said the party has put everything in place to ensure a level playing field for all the aspirants, unlike what obtains in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where President Jonathan was given automatic adoption by the party as its sole candidate.
“What is going to take place today is very important to our democracy and to the development of our country. I have always said that there is a difference between coronation and election. This is not a coronation. What we are witnessing right now in Abuja is a coronation. We have taken the step to give everyone the opportunity to present himself to the party.
“You can see that our primary is very transparent unlike that of the PDP that is holding a coronation. Theirs is just an event to put a crown on Jonathan and not a convention,” he stated.
Also speaking, former Governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, said the next man that would pilot the affairs of Nigeria in 2015 would be elected at the convention.
He added that whoever emerges as the presidential flagbearer of APC would become the next president of Nigeria.
“My expectation is that our party, APC, will today elect a man that has the capability, the vision, the carriage, to cause a very positive change to the affairs of our country, Nigeria. We are here today to elect the next president of this country,” he said.