Ogbeta.ng: APC’s blueprint to hit ground running

Sunday, 31 May 2015

APC’s blueprint to hit ground running

President Muhammadu Buhari is under pressure to perform. He mounted the saddle as Nigeria’s executive president barely 48 hours ago. Buhari won election on the campaign hinged on three major planks. They are: security, economy and to tackle corruption headlong.

The party presented these campaign promises as the means for change. The party emphasised that, after 16 years of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the saddle, it was time for change. The Nigerian electorate decided to give the party their vote and President Buhari who had in three previous occasions unsuccessfully contested election got the nod to rule the nation for the next four years.

Two weeks ago, the party gathered important personalities and economic experts together at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja to ruminate on a workable blueprint for the Buhari administration with the hope that it will hit the ground running. There were impressive contributions by those in attendance. The focus of most discussants was the “Agenda for change”.

The organizer of the event was the Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate of, APC, Presidential Campaign Council under the directorship of the former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. Some of the topics treated include: “Improving the National Economy for Shared Prosperity; “Repositioning Agriculture for Job Creation and Economic Prosperity”; “Developing Infrastructure for National Development”; “Achieving Sustainable Reforms on Oil/Gas Sector”; “Reducing Inequality and Achieving Sustainable Human Development”; “Achieving Holistic and Sustainable Reforms in the Education Sector”; “Developing an Education System Relevant to Nigeria’s Developmental Aspiration” . Others include “Achieving Diversity and Inclusion in Public Life”; “Exploring Sports, Tourism and Creative Industry for Job Creation”; “Governance and Improved Efficiency in Public Service”; “Tackling Corruption in Public Sector” and “Foreign Policy and Agenda for Change”.

Some of those who spoke were Miss Ifueko Omogui-Okauru, former Chairperson of the FIRS; Dr Rilwan Babalola, former Minister of Power; Dr Tajudeen Umar, former Country Chair, Nigeria –Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Authority; Prof. Niyi Ayoola Daniels, President International Institute for Petroleum Energy Law and Policy; Mr Tunde Ahonsi, Resident Representative UNFPA, Ghana; Major-General Ishola Williams (rtd), former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT and Kaduna State governor-elect, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.

Others were Prof . Pai Obanya, Chairman WAEC; Dr Ayo Teriba, CEO Economic Associates; Prof. Bolaji Aluko, Vice Chancellor Federal University, Otuoke; Prof Mohammed Tabia of the Department of Islamic Law, Bayero University, Kano; General Abdulrahman Dambazzau, former Chief of Army Staff; Prof Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigerian Permanent Representative, United Nations; Mr Fola Arthur-Worrey, former Solicitor-General, Lagos State; Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa, former Director-general BPE; Mr Wale Fapounda, of Legal Resources Consortium; and Prof Etannibi Alemika, Chairman CLEEN Foundation.

Moderators were Professor Pat Utomi, Fellow Nigerian Institute of Management Consultants, Chief Audu Ogbe, Chairman, Efugo Farms, Makurdi, Benue State and former Minister of Communications; Professor Friday Okonofua, Provost College of Medical Science, University of Benin; Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State and Director-General, DG, APC Presidential Campaign; Dr. Jubril Ibrahim, Visiting Lecturer, Babcock University.

The opening ceremony was impressive because there were personalities such as former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, who was represented by his former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Mr. Peter Benjamin Mandelson. Also present6 was the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo who doubled as the chairman of the occasion.

Blair was very blunt: “What you do in the first 100 days is important and symbolic and can also have tremendously positive repercussion for the government and throughout the country. You have a limited window of opportunity to make an impact as a government.

Looking at Nigeria, I would say your vulnerability is corruption and that is not new to you, particularly around the oil sector. “People in this country seem to be able to do things with impunity and beyond the reach of the rule of law or proper accountability and the judicial system.

You can crack the NNPC nut or you can make a start on it in the first 100 days and if you do so, you would have built a very strong foundation for what you have to do in the next four years and beyond.” “It is quite courageous for a government to give power away to another entity. There were people who voted for the others, mostly in the south and the east of the country.

You need to show the people who didn’t vote for you that you represent their interest as much as the people who voted for you. “This was what we called big tent politics during the Tony Blair era. If Nigeria is to transform and evolve towards a politics of performance, it is very important to get away from the politics of ethnicity, religion, politics of patronage and cronyism.

“I am glad to be here at this time for this reason. There were many in the international community who doubted you who said that Nigeria would never see truly free and fair elections or a peaceful transition of power from opposition to government.

There were others who said because of the profound differences divisions in your country between Christians and Muslims, North and south, haves and have not, these were too great to be overcome, that the election would only divide Nigeria and make her weaker. Well, you have proved all those people wrong and I congratulate you.

“I remember when we, I and the rest resumed of office in Britain in 1997, the first time in time in 18 long years in opposition and many of us Ministers, including the Prime minister himself, had never been in government before, not even a junior parliamentary or Secretary of State, the lowest for ministerial life. We were all new. I was the third man.

I want to share with you the first rule of government because it is irrelevant to you. Be true to your word. Be true to your mandate.” The statement read on behalf of the former British Prime Minister was perhaps the necessary tonic needed for the programme to progress.

Vice President Osinbajo who made the opening remarks said: “In the course of the election campaign, we ran an issues-based campaign that identified certain areas of public policy as high priorities for propelling Nigeria forward.

We addressed the challenges of the Economy, Insecurity, Corruption and Jobs Creation. We spoke to the challenge of providing opportunities for self-actualization to millions of our young people who faced an uncertain future with understandable anxiety.

The figures of extreme poverty in our society – 110 million by current estimates – make it clear that our biggest national problem is the extreme poverty of the majority. Thus, no analysis is required to conclude that dealing with poverty and its implications is a priority.

“We are concerned that our economy is currently in perhaps its worst moment in history. Local and international debt stands at US$60 billion. Our Debt servicing bill for 2015 is N953.6 billion, 21% of our Budget. On account of severely dwindled resources, over two-thirds of the States in Nigeria owe salaries. Federal institutions are not in much better shape.

Today, the nation borrows to fund recurrent expenditure. This is also against the backdrop of a highly unequal society in which, by some reckoning, the largest chunk of the benefits of our national wealth accrues to a small percentage of our population.”

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