By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Gabriel Ewepu
LAGOS—Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, unfolded plans by the fledgling All Progressive Congress, APC to salvage the country, saying that President Goodluck Jonathan was serving the country a salad of corruption and leading the country on the path of retrogression.
In a speech he delivered at the British House of Commons, Tinubu said he and other leaders of the APC would sacrifice personal political ambition to ensure democracy survives despite what he claimed was the present disregard of the present leadership for the ballot as demonstrated in the recent Nigeria Governors Forum election where he said the loser was made to claim victory.
APC to tackle poverty
Tinubu in a paper delivered to the British African Diaspora Conference, said the APC government would in its first four years pursue an aggressive plan to lift at least 20 per cent of Nigerians living in poverty out of that level. As part of the plans to eliminate poverty, he said the APC would introduce the first national social security scheme under which Nigerians above 60 years would be entitled to monthly handouts from the Federal Government.
ACN leader, Bola Tinubu
Tinubu’s assertions nonetheless, the parties involved in the formation of the APC, yesterday, failed to unveil the national officers of the party, fueling speculations of continuing division among the legacy parties.
Tinubu had in his entourage to London, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji; Jumoke Okoya-Thomas among others.
Claiming lack of foresight by the current leadership, Tinubu said the gathering of progressives in the APC would use the power of the ballot to oust the Jonathan administration in the coming general election.
“I do not support the Jonathan government but I oppose anyone seeking its premature, illegal end. Let this government end at the appointed time. But let it end through the ballot box. Then I shall say good riddance.”
APC’s plans for government
“The Central focus of our efforts in the coming years must be the implementation of the most extensive and aggressive plan to lift as many Nigerians out of poverty as possible. Our desire is to be able to move at least 20% of our people out of poverty (defined as earning less than a dollar a day) in the first four years of our administration.”
He said that besides fast-tracking the construction of Independent Power Plants, IPPs, in designated industrial zones, the APC government would also initiate “the construction of Trans- State highways, such as the speed train that will connect the nation’s zones and move people, fuel, farm produce and goods, cost-efficiently across the country.”
National Social Security Scheme
“First, we intend to establish a partly contributory National Social Security Scheme. Some categories of the poor and vulnerable will benefit with or without contribution. We believe that every Nigerian above the age of 60 who is not under a pension scheme and also qualifies as poor by a “Means Test” must be given a monthly stipend. Widows and the disabled proved by a “Means Test” to be poor must also be provided a monthly stipend whenever they are unemployed. They become disentitled when they are employed.
“An important component of state intervention to redress poverty is the one meal a day programme for primary and secondary school pupils.
The Federal government through supplemental funding will support States in providing Primary and Secondary school pupils with at least one meal a day.
The immediate twin derivatives of this programme is the design to confront the extremely high incidence of malnutrition and other hunger-induced medical conditions amongst poor children as well as eliminating the recruiting grounds for illegal activities.
Also, the programme will stimulate demand thereby boosting local businesses in poultry, bakery and juice and packing industries. This will employ millions of graduates and non-graduates. Then, we can start to talk truly about the dividends of not just democracy but of impactful leadership.
Lamenting alleged lack of democratic norms in the present leadership, he said: “In Nigeria, the tenets of basic arithmetic have little application concerning elections. Votes do not count, they are concocted. Elections are not necessarily won by the candidate with the highest votes. Elections are won by the candidate of the powerful and mighty. Consequently, a group comprising all the nations’ governors could not even conduct a simple 35-person election without a disputed outcome.
“This little episode would be laughable if it were an isolated incident. However, it is emblematic of a larger, more troubling pattern that portends calamity if not arrested. With this recent experience, I fear the length of those in power would go and the means they would employ to manipulate results when the battleground is the entire nation and the stakes are the general elections in 2015. The NGF debacle symbolizes a disdain for democracy and the popular will. If we are to save Nigeria, we must rescue the electoral process from its abusers.”
He also pledged the APC’s commitment to the introduction of electronic voting which he said has been well accepted and practised in many African countries.
Alleging that the present leadership is retrogressive and serving the country the salad of corruption, he said: “This current Nigerian government is a retrogressive one. Much of what they claim as growth is but the harsh redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top. The bottom gets squeezed while the top expands. They are serving us the salad of corruption. They consume our today and squander the nation’s tomorrow. For 14 years, the PDP-led government cannot turn anything around. A new leadership is required to put a stop to this.
“Our people live in dire straits. But this government would rather waste the money than spend it on the public benefit. They do not believe the people are worth it.
The money is more important. They claim to be hoarding it for that mythical rainy day, when most Nigerians are drowning in poverty. If that is not troubled waters, I don’t know what new calamity will make this government ever recognize the need to build the new bridges needed for the people to cross over into prosperity.
“I have said this before and I shall say it again. These leaders would rather save the money and spend the people. We progressives would rather spend the money to save the people.”
Tinubu said that based on the situation on ground, he and other leaders of the APC would make sacrifice to save the nation.
“It is for this reason- to save the nation from the stranglehold of permanent poverty and poor governance – that the members of the progressive opposition political parties have decided to put aside personal ambition (including my own ambition) to form a new party, the All Progressives Congress, APC. We do this because Nigeria has entered a critical state of economic depression.”
Confusion as party fails to appoint national officers
Meanwhile, confusion yesterday, set in to the midst of the APC, following failure of the leaders of the fledgling party to unveil the national officers, fuelling speculations of unresolved disagreement among the merging parties over the positions.
Vanguard learnt that the three parties- ACN, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, had converged on Abuja with a view to naming the officers to man its key national offices, only to have a change of mind afterwards.
Sources said disagreement among the parties led to the postponement of the unveiling of the new officers but Tom Ikimi, the ACN Merger Committee Chairman, said the postponement was to allow for further consultations.
Ikimi denied that there was disagreement within the APC about the would-be national officers as speculated, boasting that they had what he called “a successful meeting.”
“There is no disagreement in APC about the issue of interim management officers, and we had a successful meeting this afternoon, and so one of our decisions is to consult further.
“The names have been worked out and we need to consult further with our various parties in order to agree with those names on the list.
“The plan, hope and commitment of the merger committee are that the new party will be broad-based, open and truly belong to all its members equally.
He also said they were working assiduously to ensure that the party is registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the final document for registration would be signed by the ACN, ANPP, and CPC.
“The final document for registration in accordance with INEC regulations has to be signed by only the three merging parties that have done their conventions. It has to be signed by their national chairmen, secretaries and treasurers.”
Meanwhile, Ikimi stated, yesterday, that the merging parties last Friday submitted their registration documents to INEC in accordance with the provisions of the law.
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