All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, affirmed that he would not allow the smear campaign to dissuade him from his obligation of liberating the country from the bondage of misrule and misery of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In a charge to a cross section of Nigerian youths in Lagos, Buhari affirmed that his plans for a better life for Nigerian youths would be underpinned by a robust focus on education, guarantee of security and enhancement of infrastructure.
Buhari spoke as national leaders of the APC affirmed confidence in his capacity to salvage the country from the precipice, describing as distractive, the series of personal attacks on him by leaders of the PDP.
The national leaders of the party were particularly focused on disabusing sentiments that Buhari at 72 would be an ineffective leader.
The occasion was a town hall meeting in Lagos themed "Secure the future: Discussing change with the youths."
The occasion graced by different youth and student groups was also attended by Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organization, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State; APC governorship candidate in Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and former governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi among others.
Buhari said: "My love for this country is supreme and that is why I am offering myself to serve you. But our vision can only be possible when you get your PVCs and make sure you vote for APC. Don't stop at voting, ensure that your votes are protected. We have a duty to liberate this country, such liberation cannot be done overnight.
"It is a question of saving the country from free fall. I have not come here to make promises to you but to tell you that we have a duty to save our nation, and that is what March 28 and April 11 election dates are all about. No Nigerian should accept any postponement because there is no constitutional provision for postponement. We must conduct election and it must be free, fair and credible."
Problems facing the country
Noting the major problems facing the country, he said: "Important issue for us is insecurity. Second issue is unemployment, and it affects you all that still have more than 40 years to go. No matter how well I love to live, there is no way I will live another 40 years.
"I want you to reflect how life have been in the last 16 years of the PDP-led government. What was the strength of the Naira from when they took over and now? It is now over N220 to one dollar.
"To revamp the system, there is need for trillions of Naira but where will they get it from? PDP has killed this country in the last 16 years. If we don't kill corruption in Nigeria, it will kill Nigeria. Many of us are still here because we have nowhere to go in the world than to stay in Nigeria.
"Our objective is to throw away PDP and rehabilitate our country. We will not be distracted by their plans and smear campaign. The problem of Boko Haram went haywire when the Police arrested and killed their leaders, instead of prosecuting them. It got so bad that Chad, Niger and Cameroon had to come and help the Nigerian military rescue 14 local government areas from Boko Haram. PDP has killed the country. That is why this election will be very defining, especially for the youths and the change we all want."
The candidate said his plans would be helped by focusing on recoverable and leakages from corruption towards education, infrastructure and other tangibles that would benefit the youths and the general populace.
Following his opening address, Buhari drew questions from the youth groups, and subsequently party leaders spoke on the issues concerning the campaign.
In his remarks yesterday, Governor Fashola said: "What Buhari and Prof Yemi Osinbajo are bringing to the negotiation table is integrity. That is what they represent in the polity. With the duo in the saddle, you will know that certain lines will be drawn.
"The level of partisanship that is being carried out with state institution is provocative. Currently, the State House in Marina has been desecrated with party colours. Such action provokes questions about those in office. It shows the extreme to which state institutions are being pushed to support partisan political choices. From what is happening, I want you to make decisions out of conviction rather than emotion. Don't make your decision because your friends did so.
On attacks on Buhari
Ridiculing the recent attacks on Buhari, he said: "Why are they so afraid of Buhari when they always say that they have defeated him thrice? If they had kept their promises to the nation, Buhari's candidacy would not have mattered.
"They are not bothered about economic growth, they prefer to import fuel and ship jobs to European refineries. Their message is about hate and division. That is why I am saying that they don't have a message for the nation.
"The President has admitted that he failed. He said so in Lagos and urged you to follow him. But where are you following someone who has failed you to? Whenever they claim to commission any gas turbine, the power situation becomes worse because all they do is re-commission what other administrations had done in the past.
"They said that they have delivered two million jobs. These are about numbers and not magic. Divide two million jobs by 37 and you will get the answer. Is there anyone in any state who has benefited from these jobs? Is there anyone who is happy with the situation of the country today? This question is important because this country deserves change.
"We cannot elect ourselves, so Nigerians must decide whether they want to elect the APC. We are almost there. If you have not gotten your PVC, you should go for it so that you can vote and as well defend your votes. Defending your votes means that you should be vigilant on election day."
Amaechi cautions Fayose
Governor Amaechi in his remarks cautioned Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State as he urged him to learn from those who cursed Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in his old age.
He said: "I want to let my friend, the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, to know that our Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, is still within the presidential age. He is still very strong, fit and can still govern this nation including Ayo Fayose himself. The only thing I want to say to Fayose is that, did he know what happened to all those who predicted the death of Nnamdi Azikwe?"
We need a progressive to change things -- El-Rufai
On Buhari's age, El-Rufai said:"They say he is too old and does not know anything because he is 72 years old. My response to that is that President Jonathan is 52 years, does he know how to switch on a computer or know what the youths of today know? Look at the policies of the PDP, what has President Jonathan done to better the life of youths? Is it all about age?
"China today is the fastest growing economy in the world. How did China grow from a communist state to the largest economy in the world? This was not done by the rebasing of economy but through real growth in about 30 years.These reforms were done by the 78-year-old man who became a paramount ruler of China.
"My point is when a country is going through trouble like ours, such countries go for older, honest and experienced leaders. They are not going there for going sake, they won't be lying down on a job for six years and doing nothing.
"I believe Nigeria under General Buhari will be developed, truthful and progressive. I believe Buhari will lay the foundation for a better Nigeria and youths of this country should stop listening to people like Fayose.
"Any political leader who will fight corruption will talk of jobs creation and employment for the youths. That is what Buhari stands for. His age, experience as governor, minister and head of state cannot be overlooked. He will not behave like a learner that behaves like a drunken driver.
"They also say Buhari is a religious bigot. Is Osinbajo also a religious bigot? How can he Islamize Nigeria? If he truly wants to Islamize Nigeria, will he also convert Amaechi who is a Catholic?
"Do you know why they think like that? They have no records. During the Obasanjo era, we left N43 billion and N27 billion in excess crude. Where are those monies today?
"They budgeted several billions for security, what do we see. Big mansions all over Abuja by Generals and top security operatives who should have used the resources to fight terrorism.
"Now they are moving from church to church preaching religious division and what they do now is lying for a living. "