Abuja – Nigeria’s former military ruler,
Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday put fighting
insecurity and corruption at the top of his bid to
become president, as he formally launched his
campaign for leadership.
The 71-year-old announced that he was standing
for the presidential ticket of the main opposition
All Progressives Congress (APC), which he said
was “resolved to bring change to Nigeria”.
“Protection of lives and property” was at the heart
of the party’s agenda, as Boko Haram Islamists,
marauding gangs, armed robbers and kidnappers
had left communities living in fear, he said.
He also hit out at the ruling Peoples Democratic
Party (PDP) of President Goodluck Jonathan,
which has never been out of power since Nigeria
returned to civilian rule 15 years ago.
“Since 1999, (the) PDP has presided over our
country’s decline. Nigeria, in my experience, has
never been so divided, so polarised by an
unthinking government hell-bent on ruling and
stealing,” he said.
Corruption had become “blatant and widespread”
while the country had earned the unenviable
reputation worldwide as “the home of corruption”,
The former army general vowed to improve the
performance of Africa’s biggest economy, whose
over-reliance on oil and gas has blighted other
sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture.
Buhari, who came to power in a 1983 military
coup, ruled Nigeria with an iron fist and was
criticised for rights abuses but is credited for his
government’s apparent crackdown on corruption.
He was ousted in another coup in 1985.
The APC will pick its presidential candidate for
the February 14, 2015 vote in December.
Nigeria’s former vice-president Atiku Abubakar
has already declared his candidacy while Kano
State governor Rabiu Kwankwaso is also
expected to enter the contest.
PDP governors and the party’s national executive
committee have unanimously backed Jonathan to
run for a second, four-year term of office but he
has not publicly announced his candidacy.