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


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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