I am a former military ruler, now a converted democrat – Buhari

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Below is the text of address by APC presidential
candidate Gen. Buhari at an Interactive Session with
the Nigerian Press Organisation, NPO in Abuja today
Tuesday 17th March…
Thank you for honoring me with your presence
here today. Thank you for heeding my invitation
to this special meeting with key stakeholders in
the Nigerian media. Our country is on the verge
of something new. The tide has turned and the
world can sense the wave of change that is
about to flood this nation. In less than two
weeks, the Nigerian electorate will head to the
polls to make their voices heard.
Through the ballot, without a single shot fired, a change
revolution will likely take place. There are two specific
reasons why I have invited you here today.
The first is to use the opportunity to say a special
thank you to the Nigerian media for the role you have
played in advancing our country’s democracy thus far,
and especially for being a platform through which
Nigerians’ cry for CHANGE was articulated all around
the world.
On newspaper pages, TV screens and radio waves, the
alarming depth of corruption and impunity in our
country, the terrifying level of insecurity, and the grim
state of our economy were kept constantly before the
world’s eyes, making it impossible for the current
government to doctor the truth, despite their meanest
efforts. I urge you to not relent in your role as
watchdogs, to continue to be the voice of the people.
The health of Nigeria’s democracy rests partly on you.
Without a robust and thriving media, the masses would
have no voice. The electorate would also not have
sufficient information to make sound decisions, such as
deciding to vote out a clueless government and vote in
CHANGE. Secondly, I want to give you my full
assurances that in this democratic dispensation, I will
ensure that the Nigerian constitution is upheld. This
includes respect for the media, respect for the right to
free expression and freedom of speech. Page 1 of 2 any
of you are aware of Decree 4 of 1984, which was
heavily criticised. I have said elsewhere that I cannot
change the past. But I can change the present and the
future.
Dictatorship goes with military rule as do edicts such
as Decree 4. However, I am a former–former, note the
emphasis on the word ‘former’–military ruler and now a
converted democrat, who is ready to operate under
democratic norms. I am not only subjecting myself to
the rigours of democratic elections for the fourth time,
but even after being elected, I will continue to promote
the consolidation of democracy in our great country,
Nigeria, by guaranteeing that the media’s freedom is
not compromised in any way.
I give you my full assurances that the Nigerian media
will be free under our APC government. I also want to
use this opportunity to appeal to you to use your media
outlets in shaping positive public discourse and eschew
hate speech mongering and slanderous political
rhetorics which heat up the polity for the sake of peace
and stability of our dear nation.
Thank you, once again, for being here this afternoon. I
look forward to working with you in future, and to
similar meetings which shall take place on a regular
basis to keep the Nigerian people constantly informed
about the activities of the government that they will
have elected to serve them. General Muhammadu
Buhari, GCFR

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