No one is more elated than me today at this convention ground. No more is history in the making; history has been made with the formation and now the first national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC). I welcome you all.
We are gathered here because of the love for country. We know no other country than Nigeria. And because Nigeria matters, we have taken up the challenge to make it better. Conscious of the fact that our country hangs on in the face of a stupendous crisis, mindful that if we do nothing the slide into anarchy and underdevelopment will come upon us, and convinced that our collective effort and sacrifice at a time such as this can reverse for the better the lot of our people, we have put our hands to the plough. Never to look back!
That we pulled this merger off is something beyond punditry. It was a merger destined to fail, yet it survived. It was no easy task, but it was a task that needed to be done. This party, the APC is here to stay. We have provided Nigerians with a credible alternative at a time that is most needed. Therefore, we cannot afford to fail or falter. Our eyes are set on a goal bigger than all of us and our destination is a Nigeria where good governance subsists and millions of our people are empowered.
We must as a party rise above self and put country first. Though we have differences, we would understand them and work together. Though we would disagree, we would hold those crucial conversations to reach an agreeable consensus. These we will do because we must never let primordial nor parochial sentiments stand in our way or distract us from the national rescue assignment we have embarked upon.
As one of the national leaders of this party, I have dedicated myself to our political collaboration. I am attached to it in the strongest way. I am proud of what we have accomplished. Had we not held fast in the South-West against onslaught and intrigue, Nigeria would effectively be a one party state. In coming together to form the APC, we have preserved Nigerian democracy when it came under great threat. And when history records the monumental developments of the last decade, it will recognise this great sacrifice.
I have demonstrated my irrevocable commitment to democracy, to true political partnerships and to building bridges where none exists not merely in words but through action. I recall that in April 2013, I led the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) at its convention at the Onikan Stadium to be the first party in the merger to dissolve its identity in a yet to be registered political party. It was blind faith then. But today, that blind faith has manifested into reality. It was our collective decision then to sacrifice our party for the sake of Nigeria.
In my speech at Onikan stadium, I said, “Weighing all things in the balance, if I must decide between the existence of this party and the improvement of Nigeria, I must choose the improvement of Nigeria. That is our duty and responsibility. While it would be most comfortable to remain with our party as is, with its unique symbol, manifesto and constitution, we are not here to do what is comfortable. We are here to do what is right for our people and our country. We are here to answer to a greater, higher calling. That calling is the love of Nigeria.”
As we elect our national officers today, we have embarked on yet another journey. Our destination is sure because our cause is right. Our country needs a new beginning. Nigerian needs men and women who can bring the change that we want so badly. The APC is a party of ideas; one bursting with pragmatic and workable solutions to our problems and challenges as a people. We are not about violence, but about equity, justice and fairness. We want a Nigeria that is prosperous. A people on the path to greater glory. A country where those with vision lead and not blind men.
Our agenda is clear and unambiguous. Free and fair elections guaranteed by the use of the full biometric system. A judicial system that dispenses justice without fear or favour. The supremacy of the rule of law. A true federal system and commitment to the tenets of democracy.
I still believe very strongly in my assertion made at the Onikan convention. It is my conviction that this convention portends the coming of great political change.
A storm is brewing. Don’t be frightened. It is a positive storm with a positive wind. Those things that have no roots and offer no solution to the plight of the people shall be swept away. This storm will change the political terrain forever. I am not afraid of this storm. I welcome it because the storm is us- our new vision. Our new party.
I thank you all, APC members here and across Nigeria and in the diaspora for standing by this party. For working for this party. For believing in this party and buying into its vision. We have embarked on a remarkable journey together. Let us stay the course no matter what, so that we can all share in the joy of victory and never wallow in the pond of defeat.
I ask you all to join me today to sweep away those that have made this country a laughing stock and pushed our people below the poverty line. When the wind of change blows, it sweeps clean. And that is what we are about. I thank you for listening.