All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Tinubu yesterday described President Muhammadu Buhari as “a true democrat”. He spoke in Abuja during the public presentation of a book entitled: “Muhammadu Buhari – The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria”. Tinubu, one of the reviewers of the book, also described Buhari as a disciplined and focused person right from his youthful days.
The former Lagos State Governor said Buhari was in haste to bring change as a young leader, but as an older leader, Buhari “is now slow and steady”.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon and former United States Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell also eulogised the President.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and his wife Dolapo, Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife Toyin, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara and his wife, former Vice President Namadi Sambo, APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun attended the ceremony.
There were also Presidents Idris Deby of Chad, President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic and President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger.
Presidents of Cameroon and Equitorial Guinea sent representatives.
Tinubu said: “Essentially, the book explores how his professional career, his personal life and prior experiences in government shaped and prepared him for the momentous assignment he now has.
“From the book’s pages, we see a man who has lived his life on assignments that always intersected with vital moments in the nation’s history. He was a man on assignment, when, in the military, he served bravely in a civil war to keep Nigeria united.
“He was on national assignment when he became military head of state in a well-intentioned effort to straighten things out, and set Nigeria on a better path.
“When he ventured into politics and competed for the Presidency, culminating in his 2015 election victory, he was still on assignment, showing that there was no other way for this nation to go but the way of democracy, no matter how difficult the path may be.
“Now, as sitting President, he is on an assignment, against time, to undo the wrongs of nearly two decades of bad governance.
“Such is the life of this man. Always in the public eye, doing things in his different, disciplined and Spartan way. From this compelling narrative, neatly demarcated into three parts and 24 chapters, the reader is able to glean the quintessential Buhari.”
According to him, the book makes an educative and informative reading as he called for re-introduction of history as a subject in Nigerian schools.
“The book is a timely narrative. Apart from being a senior officer to Buhari, Tinubu said Gen. Theophilus Danjuma and Buhari enjoyed a professional and personal friendship unparalleled in Nigeria’s history.
“His words confirm that Buhari was a man prepared for leadership ahead of a time like this.
“The formation of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is an important event that the book addresses. The merger was the result of teamwork, belief in the democratic will of the people and a commitment to national purpose.
“Many of us invested ourselves, our heart, body, mind and soul in this project for national salvation. Many did not want it to happen and fought to undermine the good we sought to accomplish. Many others straddled the sidelines, neither completely in nor completely out, but waiting to see how the prevailing winds might blow before making their move.
“Muhammadu Buhari never wavered for one moment on this journey. Proving to be a focused leader, he acted with single-minded determination that showed no fear or doubt in the rightfulness of the cause we pursued.
“So many people made contributions that made the historic merger possible. It would be impossible to give each person the accolades they deserve in a concise work such as this one. However, it is an account that we must begin to chronicle fully, and with care, for it is the story of when reform came to the land.
According to him, the founding fathers of the APC had three challenges while forming the ‘new’ party.
The first challenge, he said, was learning the right lessons from the aborted attempt at political cooperation in 2011.
“Talks mainly between the CPC, led by Buhari, and the ACN, led by myself, later joined by the ANPP and the progressive wing of APGA, would go more smoothly and would reach the desired finish-line this time. There would be a merger and there would be a presidential candidate agreeable to all. A winning combination had been joined.
”It would give the PDP, which had boasted of 60 continuous years in power, more than it could handle. After the successful merger and the birth of APC, it was time to pick a flag bearer. At the Lagos convention, President Buhari emerged as the new party’s choice in a transparently-honest process. His speech to the convention was greeted with ovation, even by those who had opposed him.
”This set the tone for the campaign to come. But first, there was the sticky issue of selecting a running mate. After careful study and discussion, it was agreed that we should field a religiously-balanced ticket given the sensitivities of the moment.
”Based on this conclusion, the name of Yemi Osinbajo, renowned law professor and former Lagos State Attorney-general during my tenure as governor, was proposed as an excellent running mate.
“Osinbajo was also a pastor in the largest church in the entire country, and this would answer those who wrongfully tried to paint Buhari as intolerant.”
Noting that President Buhari made three electoral promises on Security, Corruption and Employment, Tinubu said: “On security, success has been recorded in decimating Boko Haram. On corruption and the rule of law, Buhari continues to plough new ground.”
Another reviewer of the book, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, challenged APC governors to replicate the change mantra in their states.
“We must support Buhari so that we can take our country back from the enemies, the looters,” he said
The Special Guest of Honour, former President Obasanjo said that the book confirmed what he knew about Buhari but didn’t represent a definitive assessment of the President.
Gen. Gowon, who is the chairman of the occasion, said Buhari fought many battles to get to where he is today.
“He deserves every word of praise today,” he said.
The President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mrs Nike Akande, said Nigerian business community remained grateful to President Buhari for the establishment of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment under the chairmanship of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
This, she said, was a clear demonstration of the Buhari-led administration’s resolve to fix the investment climate issues in the economy and enhance private sector competitiveness.
”He has given Nigeria a leadership that the country deserves at this critical moment of our history. In the last 16 months, Nigeria’s image has improved internationally,” she added.
The author, Prof. Paden, described the book as an attempt to introduce Buhari to the international audience since Nigerians already knew who Buhari is.
He said: “This book seeks to answer the questions: who’s President Buhari and how he’s grappling with the many challenges of Nigeria. My initial motivation was to introduce President Buhari to the international audience on the assumptions that Nigerians already knew their president.
“But increasingly, I came to feel that, perhaps, Nigerians might find it useful to review. I also wanted to address the issue of leadership.
“In the past, one such period was the civil war, another was the time of influx of petroleum dollars. The book follows Buhari through his challenges in and out of the office, his military training in the UK and elsewhere, his roles in military regime, including his time as military head of state for 20 months, his detention, his reemergence as a civil society leader and his eventual engagement in politics in the Fourth Republic since 1999.”
President Issoufou, who spoke in French, also lauded the efforts of President Buhari’s administration in fighting Boko Haram to a standstill.