Last Thursday, the All
Progressives Congress (APC) blazed the trail by coming up with a written document that clearly lists its promises to the electorate. The party, at its inaugural national summit held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, unveiled its code of ethics and agenda for the country ahead of the 2015 general elections.
A summary of the APC’s manifesto presented during the summit showed that the party places premium on job creation, fight against corruption, free and quality education, agriculture development, housing development and healthcare plan for children and adults. Other areas that were captured in the manifesto include social welfare for the less privileged, roads, power and infrastructure, better management of natural resources, security, freedom of religion and foreign affairs.
APC’s manifesto, according to the Interim National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Muhammed was based on the opinion polls conducted for the party by a foreign consultant, KA Research Limited (KARL), a privately owned international research company based in Brussels, Belgium and Islanbul, Turkey.
The APC spokesperson said the public opinion polls which were conducted both in rural and urban areas, showed that unemployment remains the most challenging issue facing Nigerians with 60 per cent of respondents castigating the PDP government for unemployment. This, according to him, was closely followed by corruption recording 59 per cent of Nigerians blaming the country’s woes on weak anti-graft policy.
APC, therefore, promised to tackle unemployment head on by creating at least 20,000 jobs per state for those with minimum qualification of secondary school leaving certificate and who have technology and national training immediately on assumption of power at the centre.
The party also resolved to show zero tolerance for corruption at all levels by pursuing a legislation that will expand forfeiture and seizure of assets laws and procedures with respect to inexplicable wealthy, irrespective of whether there is a conviction or not.
APC’s blueprint is a departure from the past when political parties waited till the campaign period, more often at campaign rallies before ditching out a salad of promises to the electorate.
The Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola who set the ball rolling on APC’s manifesto at the summit, described the party’s roadmap as something new in Nigerian politics. He explained that the uniqueness of the event was that the party was making its intention known to the Nigerian people at a forum other than a campaign rally as had been the practice in the last 15 years.
“No party in more than 15 years has done what we will do today. Publicly, and most importantly, together as a party, we tell Nigerians what we believe in a meeting, not just in a rally, not in the middle of a political campaign”, he said.
Fashola explained that what stand APC out from other parties is that the party has got a roadmap for developing Nigeria, and code of ethics to regulate and guide the activities of its members whether in government or out of it.
The APC may have borrowed a leaf from the first and second republics when political parties were well known for their core principles and political ideologies. For instance, the Unity Party of Nigeria led by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was well known for its five cardinal programmes including free education and free health, while the then ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) anchored its own programmes on affordable housing and development of agriculture, among others.
For 15 years since Nigeria returned to civilian rule, the country was bereft of political party ideologies. All the parties merely played to the gallery without clearly defined manifesto. Worse still, apart from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that wears a national outlook, other parties merely existed on the fringe and tended towards protecting and serving ethnic interest.
However, with the unveiling of APC’s blueprint last Thursday, the party appears to have carved a unique ideological niche for itself. The uniqueness of the APC’s roadmap lies not only in its contents but also in the procedure and methods adopted to arrive at conclusions on each of the issues affecting the lives of Nigerians. The idea of using opinion polls to gauge the feelings of Nigerians on what they consider as most needful and challenging has added a new vista to Nigerian politics.
Speaking further on the manifesto launch, Fashola said “the work we begin today is the work that will build a new Nigeria. We in the APC seek to create a new future for Nigeria; a future when there are jobs for everyone who wants to work; a future without leaders who deprive the very families they are supposed to protest; a future of peace and stability; a future when Nigeria can feed its families; a future when a Nigerian education is as good as any education in the world; a future when the high prices of food and fuel do not undermine every family’s quality of life”.
The Lagos State governor believes Nigeria’s population of over 160 million and 290 ethnic groups who speak 521 languages ought not to be a disadvantage but a source of strength which should create jobs and opportunities for all.
He berated the ruling PDP for paying lip service to anti-graft war, saying if government were committed to the anti-graft war, there would have been enough money to create jobs for the nation’s growing youth population.
“And let there be no doubt about the link between corruption and jobs. If we had a government that is serious about fighting corruption, there would be financial resources to create jobs. Instead of stopping this corruption, this government (federal government) pardons those convicted of corruption and removes those who point out corruption”, he said.
Several other speakers including leaders of the legacy parties that coalesced into APC, namely General Muhammed Buhari of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chief Ogbonaya Onu of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), the APC’s Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and former National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh took turns to tell the audience what led to the merger of opposition parties.
Gen Buhari said decided to come together to put an end to impurity in government and to ensure the country’s enormous resources are well managed.
In his own remarks, Tinubu who is a former government of Lagos State, said he was encouraged by the fact that everywhere he went even during the course of his exile, he could only rely on his Nigerian passport. This, according to him, made it imperative for him and likeminded progressives to build a truly national political party.
The former governor who said “the youths are the owners of APC agenda because it is their interest that the party is fighting to protect through creation of employment, sound economic development, and prudent management of resources”, gave indication of the APC’s readiness to build four refineries within four years in office to check the current overdependence on the importation of petroleum products and “to put a stop to the circle of product scarcity and subsidy scams in the country”.
Other members who spoke at the well-attended summit include former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, former Borno State Governor, Ali Mohdu Sherrif, APC State governors and the outspoken former Vice-President of the World Bank and two time minister in Nigeria, Dr (Mrs) Obiageli Ezekwesili who delivered the keynote address.
The APC’s roadmap did not only provide an avenue for the party to showcase what Nigerians should expect if it forms government in 2015, it is also an ingenious innovation that rattled the ruling PDP whose rank has depleted in the last four months due to a gale of defection from its pack to the APC.
In a quick response to APC’s blueprint, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisah Metuh last Thursday, described the roadmap as “empty and typical of all anti-democratic coalitions”, adding that it “lacks character, depth and completely addressed no issue”.
He also faulted the APC’s code of ethics, saying the PDP was the first political party to launch its code of conduct as far back as 2006 when Senator Ahmadu Ali and Ambassador Ojo Maduekwe were National Chairman and National Secretary, respectively.
Notwithstanding the PDP’s political mudslinging, the APC’s roadmap is a novel idea that could help fix all the failings of successive governments in the country. But whether or not the APC is ready to accept the challenges inherent in seeking to tackle all the myriads of ills plaguing the nation, as Dr Ezekwesili canvassed in her thought-provoking address is a question only time will tell.
Adeleke Denies Sacking Workers, Monarchs
Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, has denied making executive orders to sack traditional rulers and workers in the state.
He said he only set up a review panel and nobody has been sacked.
His Chief Press Secretary, Olawale Rasheed, who spoke on a radio programme in Osogbo, said Executive Orders one to five showed the intentions of the administration to review, nullify, and set aside while the instrumentality to effect the orders was Order six which is the composition of the panel.
He said: “There was never sack of any worker or traditional ruler. We only set up a review panel. It is impossible to sack and put a review panel in place.
“The review panel is to look at the number of the people that were employed, due processes of the employment, and qualification among other things.
“Before our taking over, there were issues of backdating of employment, even till last year. So, order 1-5 will be operationalised by order 6 which are the panels.
“Those that were employed from July 17 till our takeover are still at work presently, they have not been sacked. The staff audit will review the employment.”
However, a statement by Rasheed said the governor has approved the dissolution of all non-statutory boards in the state with immediate effect.
“As a follow-up to the pronouncement of Governor Adeleke, on Sunday, November 27, 2022, all non-statutory boards, commissions and parastatals, including those of tertiary institutions (with exception of UNIOSUN) are hereby dissolved in the state, forthwith.
“Consequently, all accounting officers of such boards, parastatals and commissions are to take charge with immediate effect,” Rasheed said.
Elect Leaders That’ll Seek Development, Jega Urges Nigerians
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, has called on Nigerians to elect into power leaders who will seek the development and growth of the country.
He added that they should not collect peanuts given by politicians, thereby refusing to contribute to the problems of the nation.
Jaga stated this while delivering a keynote address at a summit organised by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru.
The former INEC chairman noted that enlightenment, sensitisation and voters’ civic education were very important, saying that it was not only the responsibility of INEC but also a primary responsibility of political parties because, “they are the ones that recruit candidates, prepare them for elections and they want people to come and vote. How can they sit back and expect INEC with its limited funds to do that for them.”
He condemned the political class for their inability to engage citizens on substance, ideas, ideologies or realistic programmes, but rather mobilize people based on ethnicity and primordial identities to create us-versus-them distinctions which seemed like a strategy for winning elections but has now been weaponised, leading to violence.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Director General of NIPSS, Professor Ayo Omotayo stated that the summit would be a contribution to the ongoing debate on how to ensure that the 2023 general elections in Nigeria produced a set of leaders that will move the country forward.
Omotayo who was represented by the Director of Research, NIPSS, Professor Dung Pam Sha said that the institute had specially organised the summit to present a platform for political parties and other political actors from government agencies, the Civil Society, academia and non-governmental organisations and developmental sectors with the opportunity to brainstorm and have deep reflections on the state of political parties in Nigeria and how to conduct successful elections.
He noted that the meeting was expected to make a thorough examination of the theme and proffer solutions on questions concerning credible elections, improvement in national politics, sustaining faith in the democratic process as well as meeting the avenues of constitutional changes of democratic governance in Nigeria and possibly other parts of Africa.
“Amongst the questions that we will seek answers to are how do we sustain efforts in ensuring credible elections? How do we ensure improvement in the Nigerian politics? How do we sustain faith in the Democratic process. How do we prevent reversals of the things we have reported in our Democratic process? How do we meet the avenues of constitutional changes of Democratic governance in Nigeria and possibly other parts of Africa?
“The summit will be a contribution to the ongoing debate on how to ensure that the 2023 general elections in Nigeria produce a set of leaders that will move the country forward.” he said.
He called on political actors and stakeholders to enable the summit to become an avenue for political parties to build consensus on common areas leading to free, fair and credible elections in 2023 as well as ensuring a formidable and united Nigeria.
The Director General also urged political parties and their candidates as well as their mouthpieces to conduct their campaigns with credibility, saying that their campaigns must be devoid of character assassination that contribute to heating the polity and creating room for violence.
The National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Alhaji Yabagi Sani, stated that elections and the power to choose generally were fundamental rights for people to make choices, adding that elections should not be characterized by rancour.
Sani said that the conduct of free and fair elections in Africa has always been a very hard nut to crack, noting that, to a great extent, it was the absence of leadership that had caused the problems that have led the country to its present situation.
He said that it would be a huge task for the electoral umpire to manage the over 66 million Nigerians who have been given the opportunity to vote into power leaders because this is the first time such a number has been captured, adding that it was handy that NIPSS had brought together political parties, their leaders and stakeholders to ensure Democratic governance in the country.
The Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Her Excellency, Samuela Isopi, noted that ahead of the general elections there was a lot of work to put in, hence the collaboration was necessary for the smooth running of elections in Nigeria.
In the same vein, Chairman INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, represented by Hauwa Habib, a Director in the electoral commission, said that through the summit there was a visible intention by stakeholders to consolidate Democracy in the country by proffering solutions to the challenges faced by political parties, electioneering and the need to ensure fundamental and Democratic objectives for the citizens.
The annual summit of political parties and stakeholders was organised in effort to establish a link between political parties, elections and consolidation of democracy in the country by critical examination of issues and challenges of electoral laws and credible elections and formulating strategies for the general elections.
2023: “Critical Assets Lost To Attacks”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says critical facilities and assets were lost in attacks on its facilities across Nigeria.
The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said this at the opening of a two-day induction retreat for the commission’s Residents Electoral Commissioners (RECS) in Lagos on Wednesday.
“These facilities included a total of 1,992 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles and 22 electric power generators, and thousands of uncollected PVCs (Permanent Voter Cards), among many other items,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Mr Yakubu said in the last four months, unknown persons attacked five local government offices of the commission.
“These attacks must stop and the perpetrators apprehended and prosecuted. Our responsibility is to conduct elections. The best solution for us is the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators,” the INEC chairman said.
He said the timely arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of attacks on its facilities and assets nationwide would end the trend.
“The ultimate solutions are the arrest and prosecution of the culprits so that vandals and arsonists do not feel that bad behaviour is acceptable in our country. It is really very sad as elections approach.
“However, I want to assure Nigerians that we will recover from these attacks, those materials will be replaced, but there is a limit to our ability to keep replacing lost items with just 86 days to the general elections.”
According to him, the commission will continue to work with the security agencies, traditional and community leaders and all well-meaning Nigerians to stop the attacks.
He said INEC was committed to ensuring that nothing would stop the elections from going ahead as scheduled,” and the will of Nigerian people will prevail. That is what we have been assuring Nigerians about.”
On the retreat, Mr Yakubu said it was part of the preparation for the 2023 general elections.
He said the retreat would also dwell on standard operating procedures for collecting PVCs, guidelines for voters distribution to polling units, a framework for electoral logistics and a code of conduct for the commission’s members, officials and staff.
Mr Yakubu said copies of the code of conduct for members, officials and staff would be made available for all.
Speaking on the rumour that voters could vote without PVC on election day, Mr Yakubu described such as “absolutely incorrect”, saying, “for any person to vote, he or she must be a registered voter, issued with the PVC.”
Commending UNDP for supporting the retreat, Mr Yakubu said that the long-standing partnership with INEC had gone a long way in sustaining the incremental progress being witnessed in the electoral processes.
In his goodwill message, Deryck Fritz, the Chief Technical Advisor, UNDP, urged the RECs to implement the commission’s policies effectively and be proactive frontline problem-solvers.
SMEs5 days ago
Lagos Charges Young Entrepreneurs On Creative Ideas
Rivers4 days ago
Don Urges Fish Farm Establishment To Boost Economy
Sports2 days ago
Yellow Greens Begin T20 World Cup Qualifier
Health5 days ago
WHO Approves New Name For Monkey Pox
News5 days ago
RSG Donates Intelligence, Surveillance Centre To Police ….Pledges 10 Armoured Vehicles To Support Digital Hub
Nation2 days ago
Senate Approves N607.9bn 2022 Budget For FCT
Niger Delta2 days ago
London Museum Returns Looted Benin Bronzes To Nigeria
Niger Delta5 days ago
Auditors Uncover Massive Payroll Fraud In PAP -Committee