President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State commenced the South-South All Progressives Congress presidential rally with a warning that there would be no more handouts.
He said Nigeria would have to struggle in the years ahead.
“There are no more handouts; Nigeria will have to struggle for the years ahead,” Buhari said while addressing a crowd at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, the venue of the rally.
The National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, chieftains of the party and four governorship candidates of the APC in the South-South: Obong Insma Ekere of Akwa Ibom State, Senator John Owan Enoh of Cross River State: Magnus Abe of Rivers and Great Ogboro of Delta State were present at the rally.
The Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi was also present.
Buhari said Nigeria would eventually win the war against insurgency in the North-East, and pledged that his administration would improve the economy and tackle unemployment.
He said “I am standing here to express my gratitude to you for organising this get-together for the campaign against next year.
“If you could recall, in 2015 we based our campaign fundamentally on three points of security, corruption and building the economy and I want those who want to challenge us at any level to doubt our contributions towards our undertakings
“Firstly, insecurity in the North-East has almost been won in the sense that when we came, we met Boko Haram in about 17 local governments in Borno and Yobe states. Now, they are not physically holding any local government, but they resorted to indoctrinating our young ones, especially girls; they braced them up in explosives and instruct them to expose themselves in churches, in mosques, market places and motor parts but I assure you that we are going to clear them off in our county.”
Also speaking, the DG, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Rotimi Amaechi, said, “I am sure that Nigerians have not heard me for a very long time and the reason why you have not heard me is that you don’t talk when you are busy. We have been relatively busy in the past four years.
“About this time four years ago we were running round the country begging Nigerians to change the leadership of the country.
“We promised just three things. We promised to improve the economy to enhance security, and we promised to fight corruption.”
He added, “Anybody who said we promised that fuel price will fall must be a magician. We are not voodoo economists. It was very clear what was wrong. We got in and saw the challenges; we never knew that they had stolen all the money.
“When we came, things were extremely bad. The factors that we met in terms of economy led to economic recession. We didn’t have a choice but to fight that economic recession. World Bank said we would not come out of the recession till after three years, we came out of recession after ten months. We promised to fight corruption. Are we fighting corruption? The answer is yes.”
Meanwhile, the APC Chairman, South, Ntufam Hilliard Etta, on the occasion prayed that Buhari should defeat the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, in 2019.
Etta, who described Buhari as a lion, reeled out his achievements so far to include a revolution in agriculture, feeding schoolchildren, building the Second Niger Bridge, building roads such as Calabar-Itu road, and increasing the salary of our policemen.
“He is doing so much more with so much less. First, they wanted our lion dead, he did not die, and he became stronger. Then, they coined a story that our lion is a Jubril from Sudan, but their enterprise has failed,” he said.
A national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in his remarks said Nigeria had made meaningful progress since the APC administration took over in 2015 because Nigerians were yearning for the party
He said, “We came in 2015 and we assured the nation that Nigeria was yearning for change from ineptitude, from corruption and laziness with great meaning to diversification and development of our economy.
“For the sake of the county, we will re-elect the President who will give us hope and diversified the economy.”
Earlier, while welcoming the party faithful, the Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the APC, Ini Okopido, said, “We the APC family and good people of Akwa Ibom State are happy that you use Akwa Ibom State as a symbolic take-off point for your presidential campaign.
“This assures us and the whole of South-South of our significant placement in the national conscientiousness of our party, the APC as your administration struggles to rid our country of cankerworm of corruption and the empowerment of the collective Nigerian citizenry.
“ We thank you and the National Working Committee of our great party for the confidence reposed in us and the role we have been called to play as our party commences its tour to the next level.”
He added, “His Excellency, we want to fully assure you that Akwa Ibom people love you and are pleased with the national appointment your administration has given to some Akwa Ibom men and women. Mr President, I want to assure you that the generality of Akwa Ibom people are pleased with your magnanimity and style of governance.”
Akpabio expressed appreciation to the president for the choice of Akwa Ibom State for the take-off of the Presidential campaign, adding that the 2019 election would be about integrity.