Speech by Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President, on the occasion of his Declaration of Intent to seek the Nomination of the All Progressive Congress (APC) to Contest the 2015 Presidential Election, at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja on Wednesday 24 September, 2014.
Protocol – Leaders and Members of our great party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) – Our dynamic and vibrant Nigerian Youth – Other Nigerians here and at home – Members of the Press – Ladies and Gentlemen.
I welcome you all to this special gathering. I feel truly honoured by your presence. That you could attend this event despite the security and healthcare challenges facing this country at the moment is all the more gratifying. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
We are all here because we believe that our country can be made better. We want to see Nigeria develop, prosper and become the pride of Africa and the Black race. We are here because we know that change must come and that change will come because of you.
As I move around this country interacting with regular Nigerians, I listen to their concerns about unfulfilled expectations, frustrations and sometimes disillusionment. Yet I still see the excitement, determination and hope on their faces.
In spite of the many challenges we face, it is quite remarkable that our people have refused to give up on Nigeria. It is inspiring that amidst difficulties and growing anxiety over the future of our country, our people have refused to succumb to despair and hopelessness. This never-say-die attitude gives me immense hope and it is one of the reasons why I can never give up on Nigeria.
The glaring mismatch between our potentials and our achievements has become for many a frustrating puzzle; for others it is a topic for national debate; and yet for another group, it is doomsday lament. But as a progressive and open-minded Nigerian, I consider it a golden opportunity and a bittersweet chance to display our courage, rekindle our innovative instinct, showcase our character and turn the Nigerian dream into reality.
The future of Nigeria is represented here. Nigerians of my generation, who work tirelessly to earn a living, striving to make Nigeria a better place for themselves and their families, and who are entitled to retire in comfort, are here. Our youth are represented here. (Please join me in giving three gbozaas for our youth: Gbozaa! Gbozaa! Gbozaa!). You, the youth – endowed with fresh ideas, bubbling energy and a passionate desire for change – you are the hope of this nation. Without you, we really can’t talk of a future with hope and confidence.
That is why the 2015 election is about you. It is about how to ensure that you live safe and secured lives. It is about making sure that you feed well, receive quality and affordable education and training, secure good jobs, support your own families and contribute positively to the development of our country. This is what a responsive and responsible government owes its citizens. This is what our generation owes upcoming generations. This is what we must do to guarantee our country’s future. This is what democracy promises. This is what our party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), seeks to actualize.
Our party, the APC, at its inception in July 2013, offered a great hope for many Nigerians as a potent alternative to the ruling PDP. We have in our fold selfless leaders who cherish democratic principles and practice and who have demonstrated their patriotism in deepening democracy. Regardless of the loud and lavish political propaganda, deceit, official impunity and unjust applications of powers of patronage and sanctions by the PDP administrations, let me assure you that our party remains strong and capable of fulfilling the nation’s thirst for change. And we shall do so united across regions, religions and generations.
I am particularly proud that our party has adopted the innovative Modified Open Primaries in selecting its flag bearers at all levels. This will ensure the emergence of candidates whose mandate will be informed by the popular will of the members of our party.
Some people have argued for a generational shift to younger leaders without much experience. However, I believe that it is the responsibility of my generation to offer our political shoulders to the new generation to climb upon, improve their vision and expand their horizon. It is this trans-generational collaboration and partnership that represents the best model to create the future that we desire and deserve. This is a well-tested model; the future of this nation should never again be subjected to leadership experimentation or learning on the job.