- Says Buhari on assignment to correct decades of past wrongs
- Proceeds from president’s biography donated to IDPs
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, monday in Abuja gave a historical account of how the ruling party came to being and brought to a sudden end the reign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Reviewing the book, “Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria” written by Professor John Paden, during its launch in Abuja, Tinubu provided a rare insight into the challenges faced by political parties that came together to form an alliance that produced the APC, which eventually ended the reign of PDP.
According to him, to defeat PDP, which had boasted it would rule Nigeria for 60 years, a political alliance had to be formed.
He said: “In forming the ‘new’ party, we had three challenges. The first was learning the right lessons from the aborted attempt at political cooperation in 2011. Fortunately, both the ACN and CPC regretted our inability to conclude a pact in 2011.
“We agreed that there would be no recrimination over what did not happen before. We agreed there would be an intensified effort to forge the united effort that eluded us in 2011.
“In 2011, both parties wanted cooperation, but became stuck on whether that should take the form of an alliance or outright merger. This difference gave rise to another one, regarding how the vice-presidential candidate, who would run with the presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, would be selected.
“Despite the good-faith demonstrated in our attempt to resolve these issues, time ran out on finding a solution. In retrospect, we all were perhaps a bit too inflexible and did not realise the extent to which cooperation and flexibility were needed to establish the reform we all wanted.
“The result: Each party went its own way in 2011. However, the talks of 2011 would foreshadow the discussions beginning in 2013, which led to the successful merger forming the APC.
“Talks mainly between the CPC, led by Buhari, and the ACN, led by myself, later joined by the ANPP and the progressive wing of APGA, would go more smoothly and would reach the desired finish-line this time.
“There would be a merger and there would be a presidential candidate agreeable to all. A winning combination had been joined.
“It would give the PDP, which had boasted of 60 continuous years in power, more than it could handle.
“After the successful merger and the birth of APC, it was time to pick a flag bearer. At the Lagos convention, President Buhari emerged as the new party’s choice in a transparently, honest process.
“His speech to the convention was greeted with ovation, even by those who had opposed him.
“Then there was the sticky issue of selecting a running mate. After careful study and discussion, it was agreed that we should field a religiously-balanced ticket given the sensitivities of the moment.
“Based on this conclusion, the name of Yemi Osinbajo, renowned law professor and former Lagos State Attorney-general during my tenure as governor, was proposed as an excellent running mate.
“Osinbajo was also a pastor in the largest church in the entire country, and this would answer those who wrongfully tried to paint Buhari as intolerant.”
He further recounted: “Many of us invested ourselves, our hearts, bodies, minds and souls in this project for national salvation. Many did not want it to happen and fought to undermine the good we sought to accomplish.
“Many others straddled the sidelines, neither completely in nor completely out, but waiting to see how the prevailing winds might blow before making their moves.
“Muhammadu Buhari never wavered for one moment on this journey. Proving to be a focused leader, he acted with single-minded determination that showed no fear or doubt in the rightfulness of the cause we pursued.
“I know this for an unassailable fact because I was there with him, every step of the way, to fight against, what the realists told us, were insurmountable odds.
“Yet, our determination for reform beat their smart calculations. The desire for a better country was more powerful than their incumbent might.”
Tinubu explained that the APC was a party born out of the quest for democratic good governance. “In essence, the party is the embodiment of a democratic promise made between its members as well as a democratic vow made to the public. The APC genesis is truly a historic and an engaging one.”
Tinubu also described Buhari as a patriot on a national assignment to right the wrongs of nearly two decades of bad governance in Nigeria.
He noted that the authorised biography was an attempt at a broad characterisation of the different stages of Buhari’s life and professional career.
Tinubu said: “Essentially, the book explores how his professional career, his personal life and prior experiences in government shaped and prepared him for the momentous assignment he now has.
“From the book’s pages, we see a man who has lived his life on assignments that always intersected with vital moments in the nation’s history. He was a man on assignment, when, in the military, he served bravely in a civil war to keep Nigeria united.
“He was on national assignment when he became military head of state in a well-intentioned effort to straighten things out, and set Nigeria on a better path.
“When he ventured into politics and competed for the presidency, culminating in his 2015 election victory, he was still on assignment, showing that there was no other way for this nation to go but the way of democracy, no matter how difficult the path may be.
“Now, as sitting president, he is on an assignment, against time, to undo the wrongs of nearly two decades of bad governance.”
While lauding the author for the historical bent of the book, Tinubu stated that Buhari has “always been in the public eye, doing things in his different, disciplined and Spartan way”, adding that the president’s credential as a transformative leader, who has evolved into a committed democrat, was secured in the book.
“The Nigeria project, which occupies the centre stage in the book, has been Buhari’s life,” he added.
He also stated: “The search for that astute political leadership is what produced the Buhari presidency. That same search is what must propel this presidency forward.”
He noted that the forward written by General Theophilus Danjuma captured the very essence of the book.
“No one is more qualified to evaluate President Buhari, from the past to the present, other than General Danjuma. As a senior officer to Buhari, they both enjoy a professional and personal friendship, unparalleled in our history.
“His words confirm that Buhari was a man prepared for leadership ahead of a time like this,” he declared.
Tinubu also noted that the author, in the book, succinctly explained the transition from the Buhari in uniform to one in civilian garb. He said Prof. Paden observed that in terms of style of leadership, Buhari as a young military head of state was in a hurry.
“However, now that he is older and given his experience, he is ‘slow but steady’ in his approach to governance.
“The author juxtaposes Buhari’s military career and his political career adeptly, weaving them together in a tapestry that evokes the image of a man, who, from day one, had been destined for leadership,” Tinubu stated.
He recalled that Buhari made three electoral promises: security, corruption and employment.
“On security, success has been recorded in decimating Boko Haram. On corruption and the rule of law, Buhari continues to plough new ground.
“Chapter 19 of the book entitled ‘Corruption and Law’ is a good examination on his fight against corruption. Unemployment has been a stubborn problem, made even more difficult by the oil price-driven recession, but this administration has shown its commitment towards achieving the structural reform that will bring durable solutions to this and other economic challenges,” he said.
He described the book as an important one. “It is a logically-presented account of the emergence of the current political dispensation with President Buhari as its central protagonist.
“The author tries to achieve many things within a relatively small space. He succeeded in the main. He let the reader get a view into the family roots, life and experience of President Buhari.
“He also told the story of his professional career as a military general. The story of his political career and the journey to the presidency was told in a straightforward manner.
“Finally, he attempted a quick evaluation of the president’s first year in office. The author covers a vast amount of territory with an economy of words, yet he manages to give a feel for Muhammadu Buhari, the man. Therein lies the success of the book,” he said.
Also reviewing the book, a former United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell, admitted that the U.S. had not shown enough interest in Nigeria. This, he said, was a mistake.
Accordingly, he called on the U.S. authorities to give Nigeria the attention it deserves as the giant of Africa.
Another reviewer, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, who was Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative at the United Nations, urged Buhari to show leadership and carry all Nigerians along.
He advised him to practise politics of inclusion, warning that development without unity would be tough.
Gambari noted that Buhari was confronted with the challenge of bringing immediate change to thousands of his supporters who voted for him during the election.
Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ogbonaya Onu, who also reviewed the book, said that despite the fact that the judiciary let him down three times, when the courts rejected his petitions to upturn elections in which his opponents were declared winner, he did not lose faith in the judiciary.
The chairman of the event and former military head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, said Buhari deserved every commendation and criticism.
He said Buhari was a fighter and a man of destiny working to get things right with the economy, despite the huge challenges being faced by the country.
In his brief remarks, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the book confirmed what he knew about Buhari and what he was also told about him as an upright man.
At the book presentation were the presidents of Niger, Chad, Benin Republic and a representative of the Camerounian president.
Nigeria’s vice-president and his wife, Dolapo, the Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife, Toyin, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Muhammadu Uwais and Alfa Belgore, and chieftains of the APC were present at the book lauch.
A cross section of state governors and traditional rulers also attended.
The author of the book Paden said that the biography was an attempt by him to introduce Buhari to the international community.
He also observed that political leadership was critical in keeping Nigeria moving and developing.
Prof. Paden also donated the proceeds of his book to internally displaced persons in the North-east. The professor of International Studies said: “Let me say that the proceeds of the launch of this book will all go to some select charities including humanitarian aid to the internally displaced people in the North-east.”
The organisers of the event also announced that no one would be allowed to make huge donations or purchase copies in millions of naira.
One of the organisers, Alhaji Ismaila Funtua, announced that the cover price of the book was pegged at N1,500 for the soft cover, N2500 for the hard cover and N10,000 for the leather cover.
As such, two wealthy presenters of the biography, Abdulsamad Rabiu and Tunde Folawiyo, stated that they were purchasing two copies for each of the nation’s tertiary institutions.