STATE governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday warned partisan individuals and groups against politicising Nigeria’s economic and security challenges.
The APC governors issued the warning moments after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) launched a diatribe against President Muhammadu Buhari over his new year address to the nation.
The PDP had dismissed the President’s speech as empty, directionless and a confirmation that Nigeria is leaderless.
It also expressed disappointment over what it saw as Buhari’s failure to “make any decisive pronouncement to end the ongoing persecution of #EndSARS protesters or order a presidential inquest into the reported Lekki killing.”
Criticism of the President’s speech also came from some other quarters including the National Chairman of the African Democratic Party (ADP) Engineer Yabagi Sani who described the address as lackluster; the Senate Minority leader Enyinnaya Abaribe; and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).
The APC governors under the aegis of Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) said in a statement that Nigerians should be united in finding solutions to the economic and security challenges facing the country.
In the statement signed by their chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the governors described 2020 as “the most challenging year of the last century.”
“People and nations across the globe are still struggling with the health pandemic occasioned by Covid-19. The discovery of vaccine at the end of 2020 is a landmark progress, which certainly bolster hope that human life will return to normal in 2021,” they said.
They added: “Apart from the difficult health challenges experienced by citizens who got infected by the Covid-19 virus, resulting in unfortunate loss of lives, periods of lockdowns in Nigeria and world over as a result of the pandemic, spanning a period of close to six months, created a lot of hardships for our citizens. The adverse economic consequences have created economic recessions for virtually all countries.
“Combined effects of all these have further increased our security challenges in the country. The challenge before us as a nation is to ensure the development of democratic institutions in the country to be able to mobilise effective national responses and resolution of the health challenges created by the pandemic, the economic difficulty and the security challenges facing the country. “These are not issues that should be reduced to politics. We must appeal to all Nigerian to have a strong sense of national unity and togetherness in responding to these challenges.”
The governors commended Nigerians across party lines for their support in the efforts of government at curtailing the dreaded Covid-19 infection and also acknowledged the “excellent work” of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.”
Their party, the APC, they said “is able to inspire the process of producing a national budget for the year 2021 before the New Year.
“This new fiscal orientation is part of the change we promised Nigerians. This is made possible given a committed, patriotic and selfless leadership of the legislative arm of government under His Excellency, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, Senate President and Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Representatives.
“As a party and as a government, we have set a new standard in our national budgeting system. Already, many of our states have similarly replicated this feat.
‘We therefore also commend all our state legislatures for effectively demonstrating abiding loyalty to ensure that all our governments lived up to our philosophy of change.
“One issue that has dominated public attention, especially in the second half of 2020 was the new wave of insecurity in the country. Beyond Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, sadly we now have banditry in North West, which is as disruptive and threatening as the activities of insurgents.
“In addition, kidnapping activities is rampant in North Central and South West and is spreading to every part of the country. Every Nigerian is justifiably disturbed by this unfortunate development.
“While acknowledging that our security agencies are doing their best to control the situation, a lot more needs to be done. We are confident that our security agencies will effectively restore order and guarantee security of lives and properties of all Nigerians in every part of the country.
“In 2021, we shall continue to take all the necessary steps to roll out programmes that will consolidate development of synergy, experience sharing and collaboration by all progressive states.
“The Progressive Governors Forum felicitates with all Nigerians on this festive season and reiterate our commitment to the unity and development of Nigeria, development of our democratic institutions while putting in place genuine programmes to bring an end to Covid-19 pandemic, tackle insecurity, fight crime, destroy all vestiges of corruption and create jobs and opportunities for all Nigerians.
“This would remain the basis of our programmes for massive infrastructural projects that would stimulate economic activity, reduce inequality and diminish poverty.”
Buhari’s address empty, directionless —PDP
The PDP in a critique of the President’s speech dismissed it as full of lame excuses and empty promises.
It said it was also empty, directionless and a confirmation that Nigeria is leaderless.
“As a president, President Muhammadu Buhari has not demonstrated the capacity to play his own part, as he claimed, having failed to find a solution for the security and economic challenges that pervade our nation under his incompetent and lethargic watch,” the PDP said in a statement yesterday.
It added: “The myriad of lame excuses in Mr. President’s address again underlines our national misfortune of weak leadership that is unable to resolutely confront and vanquish bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and vandals who are now holding our nation hostage, ravaging our communities, kidnapping and beheading our compatriots without restrain.
“The situation at hand requires more than an armchair commander in chief who only dwells on excuses for manifest failures. President Buhari’s New Year address only points to the fact that our nation is in dire need of a leadership that is willing, able and ready to engage from the fronts.
“On the economy, Mr. President failed to articulate a definite economic recovery blueprint. He had no clear strategies to shore up the value of our naira, repay and end our foreign borrowings, revamp our external reserves, give hope to foreign investors, move promises of job creation from the perpetual drawing board and guarantee food security, health care among others.
“Mr. President had the opportunity to redeem his administration by taking steps that will address high costs of food, education and housing deficit; address the high price of fuel, multiple taxes and tariffs that bear pressure on businesses and families as well as how to enhance national productivity and grow our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“In the same vein, our party finds it lamentable that President Buhari, in his reference to the demonstration by our youths, did not make any decisive pronouncement to end the ongoing persecution of #EndSARS protesters or order a presidential inquest into the reported Lekki killing.
Be resilient and patriotic, PDP Reps caucus tell Nigerians
The PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, in a separate statement, urged Nigerians to remain resilient and patriotic and reflect deeply on the principle of humility, self sacrifice and good neigbourliness as the nation enters a new year.
Leader of the caucus, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, in his New Year message, said Nigerians must show love to one another and the country.
He asked the nation’s leaders to “be more dedicated, open minded and selfless in our dealings and/or relationship with, and service to our bosses, the Nigerian people, as that is the true basis of servant- leadership or good leadership.”
Abaribe: Buhari should stop giving excuses for failures
Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South) opined that President Buhari should stop giving excuses in the face of obvious failures by his administration.
Senator Abaribe in a statement in reaction to Buhari’s broadcast, urged the President to stop referring to the past as reasons for his non-performance.
Abaribe said: “The legislature, particularly the minority caucus, is ready to cooperate with the presidency in any sincere and genuine effort to tackle insecurity in our country and keep our people safe.
“Nonetheless, President Muhammadu Buhari must, as a fact, face governance and stop making excuses at every turn, especially his penchant at making references to 2015 as reasons why he fails to perform.
“It does not end at making broadcast, but in exhibiting genuine seriousness in governance for all Nigerians.
“The President is elected to provide governance, by so doing he must be ready to proffer solutions, right wrongs where it exists and solve problems besetting the country in every facet and not always relapse to advancing excuses to explain away palpable failures.
“As for us in the minority caucus, we are willing as always to cooperate with the presidency in any sincere and genuine effort to provide good governance to Nigerians.”
President’s address failed to give hope – Sani
For the National Chairman of African Democratic Party (ADP) Engineer Yabagi Sani, the President’s speech was lackluster.
Speaking to The Nation on the phone, Sani said: “The new year address was as flat as the previous ones. What Nigerians want to hear was that Mr. President has retired all the Service Chiefs and he had appointed new ones to energise the boys and take the battle to the doorstep of the insurgents.”
When told that the President announced plan to rejig the security apparatus, the ADP Chairman said: “How many times has he been promising to rejig? What would have excited Nigerians and the international community is that he (President Buhari) should tell us that he has retired the service chiefs and not planning to rejig.
“Insecurity is the most disturbing issue in the country. It is affecting so many things. Investment cannot come to the country. People are living in fear. Nigerians are no longer united because we are losing confidence in the ability of this government to govern.
“The responsibility of government to the citizens is security of lives and property as well as the welfare of the people. If government cannot guarantee these things, that government can hardly command the respect of the people.
“Today the three critical and fundamental areas of our national life are being attacked. The education sector is not functioning, our food security is threatened as our farmers no longer go to farm for fear of being killed and the health sector is crippled by the Covid-19 infection.”
Aremu hails Buhari’s speech, Jan-Dec budget cycle
However, labour activist, Comrade Issa Aremu, differed in his assessment of the President’s speech.
He said is has rekindled hope that the economic, security and health challenges of 2020 would be overcome in the new year.
Aremu, a governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Kwara State in the 2019 election, said it was “presidential” and “a mark of statesmanship” for Buhari to have agreed with most Nigerians that 2020 “was a tough year” with “a lot of challenges ranging from security to economic issues”.
He said it was time Nigerians were optimistic that the new year would make a positive difference.
With the official admission of the reality of pains of 2020, Comrade Aremu observed that “in the fullness of time” things would fall in place with respect to security, job creation, poverty eradication and curtailment of the scourge of Covid: 19″.
Aremu hailed Buhari for his “deference to the plight” of the youth in his new year speech.
While acknowledging the President’s pledge at “re-energizing and reorganizing” the security apparatus, he said the whole “nation cannot be wrong in saying the current security chieftains were fatigued and needed to be relieved.”
He was disappointed that 2020 witnessed what he called “serial youth abuse”, citing the December 11 abduction of 300 students of Kankara Government Science Secondary School by Boko Haram.
He said that in the coming years, all schools “must be as secured as any government house”.
He said this was the only way to ensure security and the “future of the coming generation” .
We need action not rhetoric, says IYC
The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide asked President Buhari to swing into action and address the myriad of security and economic challenges confronting the country.
The IYC President, Peter Timothy Igbifa, who reacted to the President’s New Year broadcast, said Buhari’s speech failed to inspire hope and confidence among the citizenry in the New Year.
Igbifa said the President failed to list practical measures that would be taken by his administration to address the menace of armed herdsmen, insurgency, rising and embarrassing incidents of kidnapping and other criminal activities making life in the country short and brutish.
Igbifa said people had expected the President to make announcement on far-reaching changes his administration had planned to make in the areas of security and the economy.
He said the people had wanted the President to announce the immediate replacement of persons who have failed to live up to their responsibilities in his cabinet and all the security architecture to inspire hope of new ideas and better results in the new year.
‘We are tired of talks; President should speak through actions’
All Progressives Congress (APC) foundation member and former factional chairman of CPC in Bayelsa State, Comrade Wilfred Frank Ogbotobo, shared the opinion of the IYC.
Ogbotobo, who is also the Convener/Coordinator of South-South Legacy Forum, said: “The President should try more.
“Everybody knows me as a strong supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, but I tell you today that he has to try more; he has to try harder. We put our reputation, integrity, everything on the line for him to be there.
“He should wake up. He is sleeping. What he said, we have been hearing all these things for how many years today? This time around, we expect Mr. President to speak through actions.
“It is not just enough for Mr. President to make policy statements; he should put in the position of authority people who share the same values; the same principles with him. He should put such people in positions of authority to implement the policies.