Text of a press conference by the APC Presidential Campaign Council’s Director of Media and Communications, Mallam Garba Shehu, in Abuja.
You are aware that recently, our Presidential flag bearer, General Muhammadu Buhari was at the Chatham House, London and gave a speech on his vision for Nigeria if elected President in the forthcoming Presidential election. Even as a nation with statistics such as in the case of 33.1% of Nigerians living in extreme poverty, and almost 60% of the youth unemployed, General Buhari bemoaned the current state of things, more so as the poor will be ‘disproportionately impacted’. Following from the above, General Buhari identified two ills that have characterised the Jonathan administration as ‘waste and corruption’.
In that elucidating speech, he successfully proffered workable solutions to pull the country from the brink. You are all aware that the speech is now in the public domain.
On contemporary national issues we wish to draw the attention of well-meaning Nigerians to the deceit, squander mania and looting associated with this administration:
1. East-West Road
It is on record that work started on the road in 2006, under former President Obasanjo but due to the activities of Niger Delta militants then, was stopped midway and the initial contractor Julius Berger left the site. In 2009, work was restarted on the road, this time to be handled by 3 construction firms to hasten its completion by 2011 as anticipated. It is pertinent to note that appropriations were made for the construction in 2009 and 2010, but after Yar’Adua’s death work stopped on the road and money set aside was diverted. I have gone to this length to illustrate to you that the construction of this road has lingered due to the lack-lustre approach of the Jonathan administration.
Their initial promise to complete the road by 2013 never materialised and till today the East-West road is yet to be completed.
2. Second Niger Bridge
Contrary to the strident efforts of the Jonathan team to assure the people of the South East that the Second Niger Bridge has been awarded and now under construction, the truth is that the PDP administration is only deceiving the people. If you may remember, President Jonathan anchored his 2011 campaign in the South East on the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, but four years down the line, we are now realising that the bridge is still at the drawing board table and may not be realised after all under Jonathan. We recall that the money set aside for the project was channelled into the Presidential election of President Goodluck Jonathan. The main problem with the Second Niger Bridge and which the Jonathan administration has failed to respond to is why public private partnership should be adopted in constructing the bridge at triple the real cost, whereas government is in a position to bear the full cost, more so as the project falls under the social contract between the government and the people. If this arrangement is not reversed, and the Federal Government takes full responsibility for the funding, the implication is that the South East people will perennially remain at the mercy of the investors for a period not limited to 25 years in the first instance.
3. Women’s Rights and Participation in Government
Gentlemen of the Press, so much has been said about General Muhammadu Buhari not having women in the scheme of things, but I hereby wish to quote him:
“I will recognise and protect women empowerment and gender equality with special emphasis on economic activities in the rural areas”. He went further to say and I quote: “Women all over the world are playing an ever increasing role in moving their nations forward both in and outside government.” “In keeping with the times, my government will ensure that Nigerian women are given the opportunity to rise and play an even more prominent role in moving our great nation forward.”
From the above quotes, one can easily read the mind of General Muhammadu Buhari, at least to show that he is not a male chauvinist, and he has a definite and robust programme for women if elected President.
Corruption as many Nigerians will agree is the major hindrance to our National Development, and General Buhari with a sterling record of fighting corruption will spare no effort in ensuring that Nigerians have value for their commonwealth.
To underscore the importance which His Excellency, General Buhari attaches to the cankerworm known as corruption, permit me to paraphrase a portion of his speech at the recent visit to Chatham House, London: “On corruption, there will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt will not be appointed into my administration. First and foremost, we will plug the holes in the budgetary process. Revenue producing entities such as NNPC and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only. Their revenues will be publicly disclosed and regularly audited. The institutions of state dedicated to fighting corruption will be given independence and prosecutorial authority without political interference.” Suffice it to say that openness in employment will be the norm under a Buhari presidency, unlike the current arrangement where you need a godfather/godmother, and sometimes you need to gratify government officials to get employment. Only recently over 300 staff were recruited by the National Universities Commission without due process and transparency.
Mrs Buhari, as First Lady, will not be in the habit of having agents in MDAs for the purpose of collecting kickbacks and gratifications for her.
The devastating effect of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, and general insecurity pervading the land is an issue that has continued to bewilder our people. But we all know that were it not for the lax attitude of our government, the insurgency would not have continued to fester as we have it today. On security, here is his response in his speech at the Chatham House: “Let me assure you that if I am elected President, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunitions to work with, we will improve intelligence gathering.”
6. South East
Recall that some German partners were to be engaged to build standard airports across the country including Enugu but along the line, Jonathan discarded the plan. Today, what is being trumpeted at as Enugu International Airport is a shoddy job done through direct labour and at inflated cost.
To further demonstrate that President Jonathan has serially failed the South East, we want to put it on record that late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had commenced and indeed reached an advanced stage in the dredging of River Niger, and construction of Onitsha seaport. Regrettably this was again truncated by Jonathan as till today the seaport which is expected to promote economic development in the region and beyond is yet to take off and the dredging stopped.
In conclusion, we wish to restate General Buhari’s total commitment to the peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians, as well as to the growth and nurturing of democracy in our land. He is also committed to the peace pact which he co-signed with President Jonathan, and shall indeed use any available forum to impress on his followers on the need for the path of peace at all times. And this is in spite of serial violations of the latter by the other side. Above all, General Buhari and his administration would practice and promote politics of nationalism, patriotism, character, equity, accountability, religious/ethnic tolerance, morality, justice and fairness and service to humanity.
It is, therefore, important that the PDP and its campaigners refrain from throwing invectives at our candidate. Thank you for listening.