With about 10 days to the much-awaited presidential election, General Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, on Monday declared his covenant with the electorate, representing his pledge to Nigerians when he becomes the President at the end of May, and outlining how he intends to bring about change in the country.
It was preceded by a brief letter in which expressed his feelings as he traversed Nigeria during his electoral campaign, saying the reactions of Nigerians reflected their overwhelming desire for change.
“I know however, that what we require to revamp our economy and rebuild our country is our ability to galvanize all our citizens to believe once again in their government, in their country and especially, to believe in themselves,” he said, adding that that would happen only if the trust and belief that the people used to have in the government and in the Nigerian nation can be rebuilt.
“The leadership that I will provide will be built on this critical awareness. I intend to lead with integrity and honour and commit myself totally to everything that is of concern to our people: security, employment, health, education, good governance and others.”
With reference to corruption and governance, he stressed that no matter how vast the nation’s resources, they will only benefit a privileged few if they are not efficiently utilized, leaving the majority in poverty, and reiterated that if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.
To that end, General Buhari pledged again to publicly declare his assets and liabilities and encourage his political appointees to do the same. The National Assembly will also see an early national anti-corruption Strategy.
He affirmed that the strategy of his government for tackling corruption will not only focus on punishment, but also provide incentives for disclosure and transparency, and pledged personal leadership in the war against corruption and also to hold all the people who work with him to account.
Towards increased transparency, he said he would work with the National Assembly for the immediate enactment of a Whistle Blower Act, and with its leadership to cut down the cost of governance.
“I have had the opportunity to serve my country in the military up to the highest level, as a Major General and as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,” he said on the subject of insurgency and insecurity in the country. “In the course of my service, I had defended the territorial integrity of Nigeria. And if called upon to do so again, I shall rise to the occasion. As a father, I feel the pain of the victims of insurgency, kidnapping and violence whether they are the widows and orphans of military, paramilitary or civilians.”
General Buhari pledged to ensure that under his watch, no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil.
“I will give all it takes to ensure that our girls kidnapped from Chibok are rescued and reunited with their families,” he said.
He also pledged a “Marshal Plan” on insurgency, terrorism, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping and rural banditry; and ensure that never again will Nigerian children be slaughtered or kidnapped at will.
He further declared that he would boost the morale of Nigeria’s fighting forces and the generality of Nigerians “by leading from the front as the Commander-in-Chief and not hide in the comfort and security of Aso Rock,” a veiled reference to President Goodluck Jonathan, who until he began to seek re-election had avoided going to the troubled areas.
General Buhari noted that the Covenant, which is derived from the APC manifesto, outlines his agenda for Nigeria and provides a bird’s eye view of how his party intends to bring about the change that Nigeria needs and deserves.
Text of the letter and Covenant
My Covenant With Nigerians
In the past few months that I have traveled round this country on campaigns, I have experienced the sheer beauty of our diversity. From Port Harcourt to Kano, from Abeokuta to Gusau, I experienced first-hand the daily sufferings and struggles of our people. I also experienced the overwhelming desire of our people for change.
When I arrived in Port Harcourt on the 5th of January to start my campaigns, I was met by our teeming supporters, who stayed till late in the evening to welcome us. Among them were many young men and women, who in the few minutes that I shared with them at the airport, made me to reflect on what kind of future awaits them in our country.
The gestures of 90-year-old Hajia Fadimatu Mai Talle Tara from Kebbi State and 9-years-old Nicole Eniiyi Benson from Lagos State, who donated their life-savings to my campaign, reflect the overwhelming desire of our people for change. In their gestures, I perceived a longing for the days when honour, national pride and dignity of labour were the fundamental social principles that governed our country. As I encountered millions of our youths, who sometimes run for hours in front of my car and hanging precariously on our campaign vehicles at our state rallies, I also pondered the enormity of the task ahead. How do we give jobs to our youth? How do we reform our economy and make it work for every Nigerian?
I know however, that what we require to revamp our economy and rebuild our country is our ability to galvanize all our citizens to believe once again in their government, in their country and especially, to believe in themselves. This can only happen if we are able to rebuild the trust and belief that our people used to have in government, and indeed, in our nation. The leadership that I will provide will be built on this critical awareness. I intend to lead with integrity and honour and commit myself totally to everything that is of concern to our people: security, employment, health, education, good governance and others.
This Covenant is to outline my agenda for Nigeria and provide a bird’s eye view of how we intend to bring about the change that our country needs and deserves. This Covenant is derived from the manifesto of my party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). It however, represents my pledge to you all when I become your President.
I have no doubt that God being on our side, with the abiding support of all Nigerians, we shall all witness the great change that we desire and achieve the Nigeria of our dream.
Gen. Muhammadu BUHARI (Rtd.), GCFR
Presidential Candidate, APC
Corruption and Governance
No matter how vast our resources, if they are not efficiently utilized, they will only benefit a privileged few, leaving the majority in poverty. I believe if Nigeria does not kill corruption; corruption will kill Nigeria.
I pledge to:
Publicly declare my assets and liabilities and encourage my political appointees to also publicly declare their assets and liabilities.
Affirm that our strategy for tackling corruption will not only focus on punishment. Rather, it will also provide incentives for disclosure and transparency.
Show personal leadership in the war against corruption and also hold all the people who work with me to account.
Inaugurate the National Council on Procurement as stipulated in the Procurement Act so that the Federal Executive Council, which has been turned to a weekly session of contract bazaar, will concentrate on its principal function of policy making.
Review and implement audit recommendations by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
Work with the National Assembly towards the immediate enactment of a Whistle Blower Act.
Work with the National Assembly to strengthen ICPC and EFCC by guaranteeing institutional autonomy including financial and prosecutorial independence and security of tenure of officials.
Make the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) an autonomous and operational agency.
Encourage proactive disclosure of information by government institutions in the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.
Ensure all MDAs regularly comply with their accountability responsibilities to Nigerians through the National Assembly.
Work with the leadership of the National Assembly to cut down the cost of governance.
Present a national anti-corruption Strategy.
Access to Justice and Respect for Fundamental Human Rights
One of the biggest challenges facing Nigeria is building a country that is fair to all of its citizens; a country in which all individuals feel and know that they are valued members of society with constitutionally guaranteed rights; a country that respects human dignity, promotes human development, fosters human equality and advances human freedom.
I pledge to:
Lead a government founded on values that promote and protect fundamental human rights and freedoms. I will promote the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, affirm separation of the powers of government and support an independent judiciary.
Present a detailed strategy for protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms provided for in our Constitution. There will be emphasis on the rights of vulnerable persons including women, children and persons living with disabilities as well as access to justice and prisons reforms.
Insurgency and Insecurity
I have had the opportunity to serve my country in the military up to the highest level, as a Major General and as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In the course of my service, I had defended the territorial integrity of Nigeria. And if called upon to do so again, I shall rise to the occasion. As a father, I feel the pain of the victims of insurgency, kidnapping and violence whether they are the widows and orphans of military, paramilitary or civilians.
I pledge to:
Ensure that under my watch, no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil. I will give all it takes to ensure that our girls kidnapped from Chibok are rescued and reunited with their families.
Deliver a Marshal Plan on insurgency, terrorism, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping, rural banditry and ensure that never again will Nigerian children be slaughtered or kidnapped at will.
Boost the morale of our fighting forces and the generality of Nigerians by leading from the front as the Commander-in-Chief and not hide in the comfort and security of Aso Rock.
Give especial attention to the welfare of our armed forces and all other security personnel and their families, including State-guaranteed life insurance for all officers and men as well as protect the families of our fallen heroes.
Ensure that acts of heroism and valour in the service to the nation are publicly recognized and celebrated.
Establish close working relationship with governors of the states affected by insurgency, with leaders of our neighbouring countries and with leaders around the world to cooperate in combating insurgency, oil theft, piracy and criminality.
Activate regular meetings of the National Police Council to ensure the discharge of its true constitutional roles in a transparent and accountable way.
Fight for you, and alongside you. We will fight together to defeat terrorism. But I will be honest with you about our challenges and I will bear the responsibilities of my charge. I will not lie to you or exaggerate our triumphs. My administration will be thoroughly transparent in every step of our daily struggle and together we will win the war.
In many years of oil exploration, the Niger Delta has become perhaps, the world’s worst eco-system, a byword for environmental degradation, exploitation and diseases. I believe that protecting the livelihood of our people in the Niger Delta should transcend our interest its oil.
I pledge to:
Commit myself and my administration to the protection and regeneration of the environment in the Niger Delta and to ensure that oil companies comply with global best practices on environmental protection.
Sustain and streamline the human capital development in the Niger Delta, especially focusing on youth and women.
Reform investment in infrastructural development of the Niger Delta and ensure that the NDDC is held accountable to its mandate.
Nigeria's greatest asset is her people. My commitment is to invest in our people and ensure that they have the opportunity to achieve their full potentials and enjoy the full benefits of their citizenship, regardless of their religion, region, ethnicity, gender or disability.
I pledge to:
Continually acknowledge our diversity and consciously promote equality and equity in all government businesses and activities.
Implement the National Gender Policy including 35% of appointive positions for women.
Work with the National Assembly to pass the National Disability Act and the Equal Opportunities Bill.
We must give real meaning to the old saying that Health is Wealth. We must take all possible measures to ensure that our people stay healthy, but we must also ensure that when they fall ill, they can get help.
Healthcare in Nigeria is in crises. Too many people do not get any treatment. For those who do get treated, all too often, the care they receive is poor. Far too many die from easily treatable diseases and what should be routine treatment often end in death. Furthermore, Nigeria is set to miss our MDG targets. The statistics speak for themselves.
I pledge to:
Unveil a health sector review policy to ensure efficient and effective management of our health systems with focus on prevention.
Ensure that no Nigerian will have any reason to go outside the country for medical treatment.
Guarantee financial sustainability to the health sector and minimum basic health care for all.
Review occupational health laws and immediately commence enforcement of the provisions to reduce hazards in the work place.
Partner with State Governments and development partners to ensure all-round implementation of our primary health plans by expanding access to health insurance for rural communities.
I believe that our education system must prepare our children for the responsibilities of citizenship and prepare our youths to contribute to the development of our country. Therefore, I shall focus on restoring the lost glory of our education by implementing reforms that will bring quality back into our schools and position our universities and polytechnics to provide market-relevant skills to our youths.
I pledge to:
Embark on a program of mass mobilisation to ensure that all children of school age, no matter where they may reside in our country, and no matter the social conditions of their parents, are in school. Working in co-operation with the State Governments, we shall make the required investments in infrastructure, learning materials, nutrition and children healthcare. To this end, UBEC Fund will be reviewed to ensure greater efficiency in utilization.
Provide on-the-job retraining opportunities for existing teachers at both the basic and secondary levels while providing the right incentives to keep teachers in the classrooms and attract bright young men and women to take up career in teaching.
Work with other levels of government and through relevant government agencies to allocate resources to schools while strengthening community participation in school management.
Implement a comprehensive review of the goal and content of our secondary education to ensure that it also serves the purpose of skills acquisition and fits purpose.
Set up Colleges of Skills and Enterprise to replace the old technical colleges. This will be done with direct participation from relevant industry and professional groups in the private sector. Based on local market demands, each of the colleges will focus on high job demand sectors of the economy such as agriculture, ICT, telecommunications, entertainment, construction, oil and gas and sports.
Establish special purpose fund for a Secondary School level education.
Improve the competitiveness of our universities and polytechnics and position them at the heart of the national productivity, innovation and enterprise.
Pursue a policy of non-discrimination between the universities and the polytechnics.
Oil has served our country, but it has also excluded majority of Nigerians from the mainstream of our economy. I am convinced that our guarantee for inclusive growth is agriculture.
I pledge to:
Make agriculture a major focus of the government and lay the institutional foundation to attract large-scale investments and capital to the sector.
Actively promote a well-coordinated and innovatively funded Youth in Commercial Agribusiness Programme.
Establish agricultural produce storage, pricing and marketing systems to ensure real commercial value and minimize waste.
Work with State Governments to launch Agricultural Support Programmes that will drive agricultural land development and mechanization.
Revamp, revitalize and improve on the national agricultural extension and rural support service system.
Lay the groundwork for a standardized market uptake and aggregation outlets for specific agricultural produce.
Revamp the key development banks (Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry and Nigeria Import & Export Bank) to fund inclusive agricultural value chain operations
Liberalise and expand agricultural and rural insurance system with premium subventions support to farmers
Revamp the agricultural cooperative system to drive rural agriculture and improve stakes for smallholder farmers.
Develop a system of small-scale irrigation systems to ensure all-year round farming.
Revamping key agriculture research institutions and deliver their outputs through effective network of extension services.
Management of the Economy for Shared Prosperity
All Nigerians deserve to benefit from our collective wealth. We promise not to leave any Nigerian behind in our determination to create, expand and ensure equitable and effective allocation of economic opportunities. No matter the amount of wealth we create, it would be meaningless unless it benefits the majority of our people.
Our failure to ensure a stable supply of electricity has been an impediment to economic growth, productivity and national security.
I pledge to:
Address the gaps in power sector privatization to ensure it serves the needs of our people.
Explore and develop alternative sources of power such as small, medium and large hydro plants, wind, coal and solar and other forms of renewable energy to ensure efficient and affordable power supply.
Invest in technical skills development for efficient management of energy resources.
Sports and Culture
Sports and culture are important instruments for social cohesion, national integration and promotion of positive national image. They also provide a strong platform for youth development and the expression of our abundant creative talents.
I pledge to:
Invest and encourage investments in both small and large-scale sports facilities to enable mass participation in sports.
Ensure that participation in sports become a core component of our education at all levels.
Activate incentives for the private sector to invest in the development of high performance sports.
I pledge to:
Support real investments in the entertainment, arts and creative industries.
Strengthen the regulatory framework to protect and preserve our culture and creative industry and prevent it from the scourge of piracy.
Develop and strengthen the value link-chain of the culture industry to deepen the industry and provide jobs