By Simeon Nwakaudu
The Presidential Campaign Flag off of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, January 7, 2015 is instructive in many respects. Despite the several failings of this event, one issue stood out clearly. The fact that the APC Presidential candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari had no message for Nigerians.
It was the same old story. Buhari in a very brief speech said: “I will ensure that there is no room for corruption and insurgency in the country. The level of insecurity in the nation is deplorable. We will assemble a team of professionals to ensure job creation, wealth and security for the betterment of the country.”
The entire brief APC Presidential Campaign Flag Off in Port Harcourt only proved to be another opportunity for the extremely vocal supporters of the party to engage in their habitual social media photograph uploads. Indeed, that was the only positive outcome for the party from that event.
For an event that consumed hundreds of millions of naira in terms of media coverage, adverts, mobilization, transport for the invited crowd, hotel bills, it was disheartening that the Presidential Candidate only spoke for about 6minutes. Just talking about basic issues without elaborating on how these two goals will be achieved. After expending close to over N40million on live television broadcast, the event ended abruptly because the crowd was trooping out enmasse even before the Presidential Candidate spoke. The APC had to take solace in the ensuing social media postings, sponsored columnists articles and placed independent photographs in majority of opposition controlled print media.
Like Senate President David Mark said during the inauguration of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, the APC has no product to market hence they are hell bent on throwing all manner of negative stuff at President Goodluck Jonathan. A political party that had no message at its Presidential Campaign flag off, will have no message at any time.
This is a political party that cries change at every turn, but her Presidential candidate has no firm understanding of the demands of modern democratic governance and expectations of the populace from their would be leader. Gaining mileage on social media will never compensate for the huge deficiencies of the APC Presidential candidate. Manipulating the mainstream media and major columnists resident in Lagos can never change the minds of the people who have benefitted from the Jonathan administration. Hundred disgruntled preachers singing discordant songs cannot distract majority of Nigerians from the progress being made.
We are not going to be deceived by the opposition insecurity mantra wherein several of these politicians are complicit in the unfortunate situation. We are aware that very fundamental steps have been taken to address the security challenges in the North East. Insurgency is not a tea party. If it was, United States of America would have resolved the security challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan has been dealing with the Talibans for years without complete success. If Major General Muhammadu Buhari is such a security expert, why was he unable to protect his undemocratic administration from fellow coupist, General Ibrahim Babangida?
We are in a knowledge driven era. In this era, blackmail and falsehood from an opposition without a recognisable message, except the slogan ‘change’, will not suffice. A political party interested in forming government must present quality programmes that are better than those being executed by government in power. If the opposition thinks that throwing insults at Jonathan will bring them electoral victory, then they under-estimate the intelligence of Nigerians.
In agriculture, what programmes are the APC bringing to the table that will surpass the globally recognised Growth Enhancement Scheme of the present administration that has thrown up several self sufficient farmers. For the first time in decades, our agricultural sector is now playing key roles in the economy with the creation of the necessary value chain in the area of key commercial crops such as rice, cocoa, oil palm, sorghum, wheat and cassava. The successes in this sector have attracted Dangote to invest $2.3billion in agriculture, while Olam Nigeria Limited has built a $120million rice mill in Nigeria, the biggest in Africa. Our dependence on imported food has been drastically reduced, with a changing labour composition for the agricultural sector. Several professionals are now involved in agriculture in all the states of the Federation.
In education, the success story has been unprecedented. President Jonathan through the N1.3trillion set aside for public universities is building would class universities across the country. This has never happened. The same facility is being worked out for polytechnics and colleges of education. Through the TETFUND High Impact funds, critical infrastructure in public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education have been revived. We cannot forget the Almajiri schools, girl child schools and on-going construction of special vocational schools in the basic education sector. The 12 new Federal Universities and four new Federal Polytechnics. There is also the distribution of over 60million free textbooks, construction of electronic libraries in Federal Unity Colleges, training of teachers among other key projects in this sector. This has been the best time for education in decades.
The rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads has been another key area of Jonathan’s administration which needs to be consolidated. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo who now acts as the APC navigator spent eights years, but was unable to achieve much in this regard. Major roads and bridges in the country are being fixed for the economic development of the nation. The Abuja-Lokoja expressway, the Enugu-Port Harcourt road, the East-West Road, the Lagos-Ibadan road, the Benin-Ore Expressway, the Third Mainland Bridge, the Apapa Expressway and several other key projects have received or are receiving attention.
In the health sector, the Jonathan administration working with other key stakeholders fought and defeated Ebola. The administration has revived tertiary health facilities across the country. In the coming weeks, the country will be declared polio-free as a result of major work that has been done.
The power sector has been unbundled and total privatization achieved, the railway is now working, youth empowerment through Sure-P and You-Win have taken centre stage, women empowerment has been elevated to global standards, there has been a silent industrial revolution occasioned by world class policies, the aviation sector has been improved upon and several other world class projects scattered across the country.
Seeking power for the sake of it or to settle a score will not be beneficial to the country. Little wonder, members of the opposition APC are merely involved in provocative statements, market-place insults and never saying what they would do with power should they be privileged to get power. Thank God, majority of Nigerians know these persons. They have been around since 2003, yet they have no positive programme 12 years down the road.
The Port Harcourt APC Presidential failed campaign flag off sends a clear message to Nigerians. We cannot entrust the destiny of this nation to the hands of unprepared politicians just eager to take over power for personal reasons. This country has gone beyond that pedestrian level. Jonathan has opened the eyes of Nigerians on the benefits of having a capable President and the people can no longer afford to look the way of a candidate whose only claim to leadership is ‘it is our turn’.
Nwakaudu writes from Port Harcourt.