The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday clashed over their antagonistic agenda for 2023 presidential election.
PDP chieftains, including Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said Nigerian will reject the APC because it has failed to fulfill its campaign promises.
But, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said all hands must be on deck to ensure that the ruling party continues to lead the country “for as long as God wills”.
The Senate President spoke with reporters, shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Villa, Abuja.
Lawan said his discussions with the President focused on the survival of the ruling party, adding that the party is expected to take its ongoing membership recruitment drive to a higher level by gathering as much as 100 million members.
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“I also had discussions with Mr. President on the need for us to continue to make sure that the party, our party, the All Progressives’ Congress, continues to give itself that colour, that disposition of the party that has genuinely come to salvage Nigerians. Nigerians have shown greater interest in the APC.
“When we had our registration exercise, we had about 40 million Nigerians who registered, I believe that we can go far above that figure. I was thinking we could register up to 100 million. So, we should make it possible for Nigerians to come out and register until we reach that kind of creamy state of having half of Nigerians registered as members of the party.
“The party is on very solid grounds, the Caretaker and Convention Planning Committee is working very hard, we are breaking new grounds, we are getting and attracting more and more members; very solid, high-profile people, from other political parties, especially the People’s Democratic Party, into the APC. This is to show the confidence that Nigerians place in our party.
“Therefore, we should all come together to ensure that this party continues to lead this country for as long as God wills. Mr. President is in full support of ensuring that this party is built from the bottom up. That is what we are all trying to do. If there are any disagreements, these are normal things that happen in political parties, in fact, even within families, people sometimes may hold different views, but at the end of the day, the focus, the direction and the target is always the same.
“That is to say that we are on our way, on a march to ensuring that we complete other congresses that will hold; the local government congresses that already has been slated for the 4th of September, I think, the other subsequent congresses and ending up with the convention, probably at the end of the year when the convention committee will fix the date.
“But I believe that what Mr. President is happy about is that the party is waxing stronger and stronger and more and more Nigerians are showing their support and their commitment and their desire to be members of this great party”.
Tambuwal, who highlighted the qualities the next president of Nigeria should possessed, said Nigerians should vote for a presidential candidate who can resolve poverty, end terrorism and offer appropriate leadership.
The governor emphasized that voters should not endorse a parochial and provincial candidate in the 2023 election.
Tambuwal enjoined the electorate to vote a candidate with a broad world view, and a leader who can promote unity and foster a sense of belonging in the heterogeneous country.
The governor spoke in Lagos at a lecture marking the 63rd birthday of a journalist and human right activist, Richard Akinola. His lecture was titled: “Security challenges in Nigeria and its implications for sustainable development.”
Also yesterday, Atiku said the PDP would be strengthened to displace the APC at the 2023 poll.
He spoke at the Edo State Government House, Benin-City, where he paid a visit to Governor Obaseki.
A statement from the Government House stated that the discussion at the meeting focused on governance, the state of the nation and how to strengthen the opposition party.
Stressing the value of personal example, Tambuwal said: “Nigeria needs a leader that is versatile, with associates from the length and breadth of the country; a leader with a broad worldview and not a parochial and provincial politician. We need an incorruptible leader who understands that the best way to fight corruption is by personal example and by building strong institutions that can withstand shocks and manipulations.”
The governor also said Nigeria needs a leader that is in tune with the times and reasonably aware of the modern demands of technology in solving society’s problems. He added: “Nigeria needs a bridge builder, a compassionate leader that can identify with the feelings and the aspirations of the poor; a leader whose voice counts and can be relied upon; indeed a leader with courage, an accountable leader who can be trusted to face all the challenges of nationhood squarely without sentiments or pandering to interests that are inconsistent with national goals.”
He said the emergence of a visionary leader that is nationalistic and not tribalistic would go a long way in changing the narratives in the country. This type of leader, he said, “would take the whole country as his constituency, not only his tribe or state, religion or region”. He added: “Such a leader would not regard any part of the country as conquered people… There is no short or magic wand to curtail insecurity, other than the deployment of relevant tools of good governance, proper technology, necessary military and police equipment, a well-trained manpower and powering of tension in the country through a government that serves all and not a section of the country.”
Tambuwal listed the imperatives of restructuring, good governance, socio-economic factors of peace and stability, elimination of corruption and other social-economic problems as some of the factors that can solve Nigeria’s insecurity challenges. He said the leader Nigeria requires in 2023 must understand the imperatives of restructuring of security and governance structure. Finding such a leader is a task and I challenge you all to find and support such a leader in 2023, so that Nigeria can begin a long walk back to being a land of peace and prosperity for all our citizens.
He said the EFCC and the ICPC were established to tackle corruption in the country but today they are being used to harass political opponents. He said there should be a complete overhaul of security agencies in the country to work with synergy and reflect international best practices that aim at preempting these security breaches. He said the justice system is slow and must be speeded up to aid the fight against crime and criminality.
The Sokoto State governor said Nigeria must do away with the current practice of open grazing of cattle because it is not helpful to the herdsmen, the cows and the community they are passing through.
He urged President Buhari to encourage his cattle route or reserve in places where the practice is understood and tolerated. He said such ways of doing business or ways of life must be changed to keep pace with modernity. He said there is no reason why herdsmen would drive their cattle from Sokoto to Delta State in the name of doing business.
He said virtually all parts of the country are destabilized by insecurity. “That this constitutes a challenge to policymakers is perhaps an understatement,” he said.
Tambuwal listed 24 reasons why insecurity is festering in Nigeria. His words: “Some of the factors responsible for security challenges in Nigeria are lack of good governance; inequality and feeling of marginalization by different groups of people; ethnic prejudices; religious conflicts; lack of appropriate equipment and technology to combat crime and criminality; weal intelligence gathering mechanism; loss of Nigeria’s value system; corruption; porous borders; rural-urban drift; cattle rustling; unemployment and poverty; lack of access to education, healthcare and welfare; inequitable distribution of resources; civil wars in neighbouring countries such as Libya, Congo, and the Sahel region, particularly Mali; the influence of foreign terrorist groups like ISIS, ISWAP, Al Quada etc, weak and inept leadership and the inability to unite the country for a common purpose; parochial worldview; weak foreign direct investment.”
The governor said insecurity has been found to be a leading obstacle to sustainable development. He said: “Insecurity in Nigeria not only competes with actual development items for funding but also distracts government from concentrating on strengthening our institutions, which in time would ensure the attainment of development goals. For instance, in the 2020 budget of the Federal Government, N190.65 billion was allocated to security alone. A total of N212.32 billion have been allocated to security in the 2021 budget; an increment of about 11.1 per cent over that of last year. This, of course, excludes what state governments are spending in the area of security.”
Insecurity, he added, is compounding Nigeria’s development challenges, as many farmers have been compelled to abandon their farms, many businesses have been disrupted for fear of bandits and ongoing development projects in the area of road construction, the building of schools and health facilities have been temporarily suspended in Sokoto, for instance, the cost of building materials are going up and contractors are already calling for variation in the cost of projects because of the activities of terrorists.
Tambuwal said one of the key and underlying causes of i insecurity in the country is poverty. Citing the declaration of Nigeria last year as the poverty capital of the world by a United States-based media conglomerate, a pronouncement supported by statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), he said the average Nigerian is poor, hungry and frustrated and this has compounded the security situation in the country.
The governor said Nigeria has witnessed a sharp increase in poverty and unemployment in recent years under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari. For instance, he said the NBS recently put the poverty level in the country at 40 per cent and that this category of Nigerians is prone to violence. His words: “The average Nigerian is poor, hungry and frustrated. Unfortunately, Nigerians in this category are prone to violence. This population in turn are disenchanted towards development programmes that involve the participation of the people; therefore creating a nationwide camp of potential terrorists, criminals and bandits. Unfortunately, Nigeria has witnessed a sharp increase in unemployment in recent years.
“According to the NBS, the unemployment rate jumped from 10.44 per cent in 2015 to 33.20 per cent in 2020. Blumberg has ranked Nigeria as second in unemployment in the world in 2021. These are indeed embarrassing figures.”
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