The battle for who occupies Aso Rock in 2015 has commenced in earnest with the election of General Muhammadu Buhari as the flag bearer of the main opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC). General Buhari defeated his other contestants by garnering 3,430 votes at the party’s national convention held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.

A total of 7,214 delegates were accredited.

Buhari was followed by Rabiu Kwankwaso, governor of Kano state, with 974 votes.  Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, got 954 votes. Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo state, scored 624 votes while Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher of Leadership Newspapers, got 10 votes.

Sixteen votes were regarded invalid.

With this outcome, General Buhari will face President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 14, 2015 presidential election.

Before his election as the flag bearer of the party, Buhari had earlier roused the delegates with an electrifying speech to convince them that he was the right candidate to deliver Aso Rock for APC.

“I have always served Nigeria to the best of my ability. I have always tried to give more to the nation than it has given me. This is the principle of service that has guided my public life. Thus, I am not a rich person. I can’t give you a pocketful of dollars or naira to purchase your support,” he said.

“Even if I could, I would not do so. The fate of this nation is not up for sale. What I will give you, and this nation is all of my strength, commitment, sweat and toil in the service of the people. What I can give you is my all.

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“I do not intend to rule Nigeria. I want to democratically govern it with your help. I seek a Nigeria where Christians and Muslims may practise their faiths in peace and security; a Nigeria that is just and where corruption no longer trespasses into our institutions and national behaviour and a Nigeria where our diversity could be used for our national prosperity.

“Nigeria is our home. Let us now turn it into the great nation we know it can and should be.”

Shortly after he was declared the winner of the contest, General Buhari painted the pictures of what his administration would be like. He said that his government would institute a national industrial policy, coupled with a national employment directive that will revive and expand Nigeria’s manufacturing sector, create jobs for the country’s urban population and decrease reliance on expensive foreign imports.

“We shall implement a national infrastructure master plan that will provide construction and related jobs across the land. Furthermore, by improving our transportation infrastructure through road, rail and port construction we expand the outer bounds of economic growth as no economy can grow beyond the capacity of its infrastructure,” he said.

“On corruption, the government will enhance EFCC’s powers to investigate independently. Moreover, we intend to plug the holes in NNPC accounting. There will no longer be two sets of books, one for public consumption and another for insiders who profit from this slick fraud. In an APC government, the public will know how much NNPC makes and where all the money goes.”

He concluded his speech by asking for support and help to actualise his ambition of leading Nigeria. His words: “I pledge to do my utmost to make this happen but cannot do it alone. I need your support. I need your help to become President of Nigeria so that government may come to serve you, so that it may bring relief to the broken and weary among us and so that it may usher in a new Nigeria meant for us all, a Nigeria that is the birth right of everyone but the exclusive possession of no one.”

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Previous Shots at Aso Rock

General Buhari is upbeat that he will be victorious this time around after making attempts to be president since 2003. In 2003, General Buhari squared up against General Obasanjo of the PDP. He polled 12, 710,022 votes representing 32.17 per cent against General Obasanjo’s 24,456,140 or 61.94 per cent.

Four years later, in 2007, when President Obasanjo failed in his third term bid, he ran again against the anointed candidate of President Obasanjo, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua. He polled 6,605,299 votes against Yar’Adua’s 26,638,063.

In the last general elections in 2011, Buhari contested against President Goodluck Jonathan. When the results were announced, Buhari polled 12, 214,853 against Jonathan’s 22,495,187 votes.

Indeed, the February 14, 2015 presidential election will therefore be a repetition of the 2011 election as General Buhari and President Jonathan will go head to head once again.

Will General Buhari defeat President Jonathan this time around?