The President added that his administration had implemented the Treasury Single Account, which he said, had reduced stealing in the public service. The Deputy Chairman of NCAN, Chuckwuemeka Nwajiuba, speaking on behalf of the group’s Board of Trustees, said three million members of the group contributed as little as N68 to purchase the forms. He said the decision to purchase the forms for Buhari was taken after the group assessed the President’s performance.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, lashed out at defectors from the All Progressives Congress, describing them as weak and selfish politicians.
He spoke while accepting the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms of the APC from a group, the Nigerian Consolidation Ambassadors Network, which donated the forms worth N45m to him to support his bid for re-election next year.
Though the President did not mention the names of the defectors at an event marking the handing over and acceptance of the forms in the Presidential Villa, observers believe that the President was making reference to the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, ex-Vice-President Abubakar Atiku, a former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso and others who recently defected from the APC to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Buhari said, “I am honoured today to receive youths from all over the country contributing to buy the forms for me.
“The weakest people whose senses of expectation do not align with our vision have exited our party.”
He said following the exit of the defectors from the party, “We now have a party of strong and patriotic people who are ready to work for a strong Nigeria.”
Buhari had in April this year declared his interest in seeking re-election for a second term in the forthcoming 2019 elections.
Buoyed by this, a pro-Buhari group, Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network, had on September 5, while Buhari was attending the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit in Beijing, China, purchased the N45m worth of forms for him.
The forms were presented to the President by the representatives of the group, comprising the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Farouk Aliyu; the Deputy Chairman of the BoT, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; the National Coordinator of the group, Sunusi Musa; the six zonal coordinators, and three special representatives.
Buhari received the forms from the group at about 12pm on Tuesday with some of his top aides, including the Minister of Transportation and Director-General of the Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organisation, Rotimi Amaechi, in attendance.
Others present included, Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
Accepting the forms, Buhari expressed his delight for being honoured by the group said to be made up of youths from different parts of the country.
The President, a retired general and a former military Head of State, said he came out of retirement in 2002 to pursue the realisation of his vision to rescue the country.
Buhari, who contested and lost the 2003 presidential election, said he decided to contest again in 2007 because the country reached a hopeless state in 2006.
Reeling out some of his administration’s achievements, he said the rail project had been completed under his watch with new ones under construction, adding that jobs as well as cash had been provided for the most vulnerable Nigerians.
He also said his administration provided support for farmers, through efforts including the rehabilitation of fertilizer plants.
The President added that his administration had implemented the Treasury Single Account, which he said, had reduced stealing in the public service.
The Deputy Chairman of NCAN, Chuckwuemeka Nwajiuba, speaking on behalf of the group’s Board of Trustees, said three million members of the group contributed as little as N68 to purchase the forms.
He said the decision to purchase the forms for Buhari was taken after the group assessed the President’s performance.
Nwajiuba added, “He has also reined in systemic corruption by firmly enforcing even erstwhile policies, which no one had the courage or the strength of character to enforce, be it the TSA, the IPPSA, the EGP, the operating freedom of law enforcement agencies, in dutiful compliance with the laws of our land. The list is endless.”
According to him, the group was motivated by Buhari’s commitment to the fight against corruption, terrorism and commitment to revamping the economy.
He said, “Nigerians for the first time in many years could see a leader who painstakingly took decisions solely on the basis of national interest, above his or anyone else’s.
“A leader who belongs to all and behooving to our country and to God only, who in His infinite mercy, brought our President back from the brink of death and restored him to strength and vigour.
“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, 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 APC, to encourage Mr. President to seek re-election for another term to help consolidate the work he is doing.”
Buhari is Nigeria’s most incompetent leader, says ex-VP
But Atiku has said President Buhari’s failure to retain significant individuals in his party was a sign of weakness and lack of leadership.
Atiku, through his campaign organisation, said his attempt to come to power “is to clean the mess that Buhari would leave which has resulted in job loss, poor economy and ranking of the country as one of the poorest.”
The spokesperson for the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Segun Sowunmi, in a reaction to Buhari’s comment while receiving the APC nomination forms, said, “Never in the history of Nigeria has a more incompetent person served in the chambers of the exalted office of the President. No President of Nigeria, politics apart, will speak in such manner. The fact is that freedom of association is guaranteed by all the United Nations’ conventions and the constitution of our country.
“That Buhari has not been able to provide leadership and keep high-network individuals in the APC is to his own weakness and a question of his lack of capacity to keep Nigerians together. We are in the campaign and we are on the ballot. Atiku is attempting to become the President to clean the mess that Buhari caused in our country.
“Buhari has made many Nigerians lose their jobs and our country has become one of the poorest countries in the world. He has divided the country and people cannot move freely. He has made a mess of the economy.
“Therefore, we take his comment as not possibly referring to us. He should speak to issues, development, job creation, restructuring and so on. Obviously, these things he cannot do.”
Address issues, Senate President tells Buhari
Also, Saraki, speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, asked Buhari to address issues and not individuals in his speeches.
He said, “Every aspirant including Buhari – because he is not a candidate yet – should be focused on issues, he should not be descending into abusing people. It is about now that the President should be talking about his achievements, not abusing people. If as the President he speaks and people start reacting and responding to him, that will be desecrating the institution of the Presidency. He should discuss issues. If he is talking like that as President, then he is lowering the standards of that office.”
Kwankwaso dismisses Buhari’s claim
Also, Kwankwaso has dismissed Buhari’s claim about the APC defectors.
Speaking through his Principal Secretary, Hajia Binta Spikin, the lawmaker said, “The President should have come plain so that we would know who exactly he was referring to. But my leader and the Rabi’u Kwankwaso that I know is not weak because his achievements are there to speak for him.
“What he has been able to achieve in Kano in four years alone defines him as a strong, visionary, compassionate leader who knows what he wants and how to get it. He is the only leader that I know who has been able to put Kano on a sound footing and erect infrastructure projects – over 6,000 of them between 2011 and 2015; they are there for you to touch, feel and use. A weak person cannot achieve that. He cannot be selfish too because he remains the only governor of Kano who did not collect security vote. The man’s cult-like followership is because he is strong and people know that he is not selfish, and he can deliver.”
We won’t allow looters enjoy their loot – Buhari
Meanwhile, the President said in Abuja on Tuesday that his administration was committed to depriving looters of public assets of the fruits of their crimes.
Describing asset recovery as an anti-corruption tool, he called on the National Assembly to urgently pass the pending Proceeds of Crimes Bill.
He said the bill when passed and assented to would “revolutionise our asset recovery and management architecture.”
Buhari said this at the Presidential Villa while officially receiving the report of the three-man presidential committee set up to audit recovered funds.
The President had on November 22, 2017 inaugurated the committee which comprised Mr. Olufemi Lijadu, Mrs. Gloria Chinyere Bibigha and Mr. Mohammed Nami.
The committee was given the mandate to carry out a comprehensive audit of assets and funds recovered by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government from May 29, 2015 to November 22, 2017.
Although details of the report of the committee were not released, the President promised to implement its findings and recommendations.
He described corruption as constituting “a threat to Nigerians’ well-being, national security, and economy of Nigeria,” adding that his administration “will not allow the wanton diversion and embezzlement of public funds into private pockets.”
He added, “Thus, we intend to continue taking all necessary measures to deprive looters of public assets of the fruits of their crimes.
“It is in keeping with the anti-corruption policy of this government, and in line with global best practices that this committee was set up to review our asset recovery and management practices in order to evolve a proper management, transparent and accountability culture in the management of recovered assets.
“Given our history of impunity, much of Nigeria’s wealth has historically been squandered or stolen; leaving us with inadequate infrastructure for our growing population and economy.
“Asset recovery is thus one of the essential tools for fighting corruption and we must therefore take issues of managing such recovered assets very seriously.
“We must utilise proceeds of our recoveries optimally to address our economic and social problems, and loopholes for stealing public funds must be blocked.
“To this end, let me assure Nigerians that the findings and recommendations of the committee would be carefully examined and given due consideration with a view to implementing the recommendations.”
He promised to remain committed to ensuring that Nigeria “triumphs over the evil of corruption” and “attains a prosperous economic status and surmounts all her security challenges.”
He called on the National Assembly to pass the Proceeds of Crimes Bill.
Donation of N45m forms to President, illegal – Murray-Bruce
The Senate has told the President to respect the provision of the Electoral Act that pegs the maximum donation to a political campaign at N1m.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly also condemned the APC for selling its nomination form for the presidential election for N45m.
The Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, while reacting to the purchase of the presidential form for Buhari by a group in an interview with one of our correspondents, urged the President to obey the rules guiding electioneering.
Murray-Bruce said, “First, the APC is charging N45m; that is exorbitant and it is clear that they do not want democracy in the party, because N45m is too high for anybody to seek public office.
“Second, if anybody has bought the form (for Buhari), then it is a breach of the Electoral Act because a person cannot make a donation that is more than N1m.
“As the ruling party, and as a party that should obey the rule of law, they should ensure that they obey the laws of the land. If N1m is the limit, then they should obey it. If they charge N45m per aspirant, then it is quite obvious that it is skewed in favour of one individual and not for democracy in the APC. But more importantly, it is an APC problem, not the PDP.”