•Buhari on mission to undo decades of bad governance —Tinubu •Gowon, Obj, others eulogise Buhari’s qualities
•Engage NGOs, non-state actors in anti-corruption fight, Gambari tells president •Why I was absent —Atiku
THE national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu and the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, were united on Monday, at a book launch on President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, where they exchanged pleasantries.
The duo met for the first time on Monday, eight days after the former governor of Lagos State wrote a strong worded letter accusing the latter of carrying out a coup that undermined the principles the party stood for and calling for his resignation.
The book, entitled; “Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria,” authored by Professor John Paden, chronicled the struggle and career of the president until May, 29, 2016. The venue was the popular International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.
The APC national leader was said to be irked by the turnout of events at the just-concluded primaries in Ondo State, where Rotimi Akeredolu emerged as the party’s governorship standard-bearer.
He had, in his statement made public on September 26, argued that Oyegun could no longer hold forth as the party’s national chairman, based on allegations that he conspired with some members of the party “to sabotage justice and democracy in Ondo State.”
Tinubu, who expressed confidence in the leadership of President Buhari, said the president was on the mission to undo the wrongs of about two decades of bad governance in the country.
Speaking as one of the four reviewers of the book, Tinubu also called for the re-introduction of History in the secondary schools’ curriculum, stressing that “a nation that forgets its past forgets everything.”
It was observed that both Tinubu and Odigie-Oyegun sat side-by-side at the event while different groups of emissaries took turns to confer with the APC national leader.
Tinubu, while recalling how the APC was formed, noted the many sacrifices that were made in what he described as “project for national salvation,” despite plans by many to undermine it.
He also revealed how the downfall of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was plotted saying, “the formation of the APC is an important event that the book addresses. The merger was the result of teamwork, belief in the democratic will of the people and a commitment to national purpose.
“Many of us invested ourselves, our heart, body, mind and soul 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 move.
“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 un-surmountable odds.
“Yet, our determination for reform beat their smart calculations. The desire for a better country was more powerful than their incumbent might.”
Tinubu said further: “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 Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and CPC regretted the 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 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 numerous good faiths demonstrated in attempts 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”.
In the prelude to the 2015 general election, Tinubu also revealed that the party encountered some challenges in deciding who became Buhari’s running mate, but that was quickly resolved with Professor Yemi Osinbajo coming into the equation.
His words: “After the successful merger and birth of the APC, it was time to pick a standard-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.
In that speech, he said to the delight of all who heard, and I quote him:
“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. 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.”
“This set the tone for the campaign to come. But first, 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.
“From these events, you can see a portrait of President Buhari as a democrat, more adept, than many would think, at the nuances of coalition-building and political partnership.”
The former governor of Lagos State, on Buhari being on assignment, said, “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.
“Such is the life of this man. Always in the public eye, doing things in his different, disciplined and Spartan way. From this compelling narrative, neatly demarcated into three parts and 24 chapters, the reader is able to glean the quintessential Buhari.”
Former head of state, Yakubu Gowon, who was chairman on the occasion, said Buhari deserved every word of praise and criticism that would come his way.
Gowon described Buhari as a fighter and a man of destiny, adding that as a young officer, he did so well within and outside Nigeria, such that he was recognised both within and internationally, “and that is why he catapulted to the top within the shortest possible time.
“As a combat politician, he fought to take over the villa despite being told he will never see it,” adding that he had been doing his best to get things going and the sufferings of the people alleviated.
President Buhari commended the author of the book while expressing his commitment to delivering Nigeria from the woods.
In his remarks the Special Guest of Honour, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, described Buhari as an upright man, adding that the book confirmed what he knew about Buhari and what he had been told about him.
According to him, the book was for those who wanted to know about Nigeria of yesterday, today and about their present leader.
He urged Nigerians to read the book for the right reason which was progress, unity and wholesomeness of Nigeria.
The former United States (US) Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, who also reviewed the book, described as a mistake, America not showing enough interest in Nigeria, not giving the country the attention it deserved as the giant of Africa, urging it not to repeat the same mistake.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonaya Onu, who was also one of the book reviewers, hailed Buhari for not allowing insurgents to take the country for granted, adding that he used his influence for common good rather than for sale.
He said despite being attacked during election campaigns, Buhari’s courage guided him to think of what he would do for the nation.
Onu said: “He (Buhari) was the only president to defeat an incumbent who was from a party that had produced three former presidents, there was no court case to challenge the outcome of this election.”
Professor Ibrahim Gambari, also one of the book reviewers, spoke about Buhari’s first tenure as military head of state, corrected some false impressions that he was a religious and ethnic bigot and an autocrat.
Gambari said the major challenge was the expectation of change by the populace. He urged Buhari to engage NGOs and non-state actors in the corruption and change mantra, advising him to practise politics of inclusion to ensure peace.
Paden, in his remarks, said the book was an attempt to introduce Buhari to international audience, since Nigerians already knew their president.
He also wanted to use the book to address the issue of leadership and the challenges therein, like national unity and security, corruption and economic melt-down.
He also talked about how the independence of the judiciary was crucial to nation building.
The event also featured a documentary on President Buhari, entitled: “Leading from the Front,” which showed his military career and political life.
The event was witnessed by presidents of Chad, Idriss Deby; Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou and the Benin Republic, Patrice Talon, as well as representatives of the presidents of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
The book came in paper back which was sold for N1,500, hardcover for N2,500, and leather back for N10,000. Those present were discouraged from announcing big donations publicly, rather, they were advised to buy many copies at the official rate and give out to friends and associates.
The proceeds from the book will be donated to humanitarian work in the North-East, while copies of the book will be sent to every tertiary institution in the country.
Other prominent personalities in attendance were the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and wife, Dolapo; Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife ,Toyin; Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and wife, former Vice-President Namadi Sambo, service chiefs and members of the Federal Executive Council.
Also in attendance were lawmakers, governors, members of the organised private sector, members of the diplomatic corps, royal fathers, among others.
The Media Adviser to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Paul Ibe, explained why he was absent from the event.
Ibe said: “For inexplicable reason, the former vice-president only received his invitation today (Monday) after the event had started.
“It is on record that the invitation for the Turakin Adamawa was delivered to the Atiku Centre on October 1, 40 hours before the event of today (yesterday), and only after the former vice-president had travelled to Gombe to honour the invitation for the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the creation of Gombe State.
The former vice-president returned to Abuja on Sunday night, October 2. The invitation letter, signed September 30, 2016, the last working day of the week, was handed over to Atiku Abubakar today (Monday), after the programme had commenced.
“As a former vice-president, who is well-schooled in the demands of protocol, it would have been inappropriate of the Turakin Adamawa to storm into the event while President Muhammadu Buhari, was already seated with other dignitaries, including visiting heads of government to the occasion.”