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Presidential debate: Utomi, Dara, Ndok unveil plans

BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE

THE  the National Election Debate Group and Broadcasting of Nigeria, NEDG/BON presidential debate lived up to its billing, Tuesday, with three presidential candidates – Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr John Dara and Mrs Ebiti Ndok mounting the podium to answer a series of questions on what they would do if elected.

Utomi is of the Social Democratic Mega Party, SDMP; Dara is standing on the plank of National Transformation Party, NTP; while Ndok is running on the platform of the United National Party for Development, UNDP.

Only the Mega Progressive Peoples Party, MPPP Candidate, Senator Rasheed Shitta-Bey did not attend the debate meant for four contestant. President Goodluck Jonathan was not mentioned as one of the participants as he is expected to partake in the ongoing debates today.

Moderated by Mr. Imoni Mac Amarere with Dr. Reuben Abati and Timawus Mathaias as panelists, candidates were asked what they would do on the immunity clause, agriculture, economy, agriculture, environment and education among others to improve the socio-economic fortunes of the citizenry, if elected..

In unison, all the candidates agreed that the constitution needed amendment and the immunity clause must be reviewed to ensure that leaders don’t hide under it to commit crimes. Dara said he and his party joined the race because of the failure of existing parties to fix the country and thereby unleashed the problem of a wide gap between thye rich and the poor in the country.

He promised to implement  four cardinal programmes that would holistically look at the educational, agricultural, economic and political problems of the country. He identified lack of masterplan as the bane of the country’s development.

Ndok on her part, said she would move to complete removal of the immunity clause because money stolen by leaders, who hid under the shade of immunity clause could be used to provide needed amenities. She also promised free education at all levels, reduce over-independence on crude oil by boosting agriculture via mechanised farming, co-operatives, providing better seedlings, educating farmers, public enlightenment and ensuring storage of agricultural products.

On his part, Utomi, who described himself as a nation-builder said he would review the immunity clause.

. Train farmers on storage and ensure it. Nigeria is rich. In South-South.
. I see big gap between what we are and what we can be; gap between the rich and the poor. We want to address these and are urging for your support. By God’s grace I will fix the country faster with available resources

Utomi
I am here because i am a nation builder by training ad profession. Expectation that we will be the leader of our great continent. Botswana President encourage Nigeria.

A country that caould be the leader of the Black race in the world. We are lacking in all indices of development, infant mortality, maternal mortality, why. We have to ensure that our coutry gets to where it shouild be

Ndok

United National Party for Development

The constitution of Nigeria 14 (1) should be a state
Free education at all levels including adult education provided for in the constitution. Each of us struggle to educate our children. How can we actualise what we are?

Because of the gaps and denials of Nigerians from accessing these that we came with socialist idealogy. Reastoring equality, irrespective of sex and ethnicity and religion.

Abati asks: Will operate constitution as it or support amenmebt on immunity clause
Dara said: There several aspects of concern apart from immunity clause. As it is, the constitution can help us build a great country. No perfect constitution. We hacve redefine hat immunity constitutte. Immunity cover criminal breach. Immunity should be made not cover criminal breach.

Process of creating LG is cumbersome. It should be finetuned.
We must however not over emphasise that because as of now there are provisions for sanctioning govenor. Implementation is the problem.

Utomi
We will review immunty cluase and otehr clauses. Quality of life todat is worse than 1999 baceasue our constitution does not work. Riggers of leetctiopn get to office and hold Nigerian people hostage. Wwe need a constituitn that makes leaders accountable. We need parliamentary constitution.

Ndok
If you flaut the laws of the country you must be punished . No immunity clause. Stol;en money can be used to providse amenities – hospitals, etc No more immuinty clause.

ON AGRIC
Utomi
I grew up in Gusau. I am just coming form there. The agric has disappeared because of inertia, lack of competitevness for farmers to grow like oil workers.

Take endowements of each of the 6 zones where they are competitve and help the farmers to grow in the area they have advantage and live competitevely. Sesame production can be boosted. Create industries based on this. Create rubber in the South. Challenge of Agricvulture, challenge of making every part of the country

Ebiti Ndok
My agriculture policy will be to remove overdependence on oil. Groundnut, rubber, cotton, palm produce were the mainstay of the economy in the 1960s. Every part of the country has area it is strong Jos (potatoes), Benue (food basket), to ensure mechanineds farming, co-operatives, providing better seedlings, educate our farmers, public enlightenment. Train farmers on storage and ensure it. Nigeria is rich. In South-South.

Dara
Piece-meal basis of policy
Four cardinal problems. We must learn to solve problems from a holistics and integrated approach. We are yet to fully document our arabale land availablilty in this country. Because things grow easily in Nigeria, we have not done a study on what is most suitabkle for each area. We ought to be an agriculture because we have the soil and climate but we are yet to be so.We must make optimal use of land resources. We can be a wine power. We must take a grand approach to realise.

Amarere : How can you improve and protect the envi

Ndok
77.9 % of Landmass is forest cover. What can govt do to protect the forests and prevent erosion. UNDP will look at every region of Nigeria because the terrains are different. In South-South we are wasting gas. Lack of mgt of leadership in this country is the current probelm. IUNDP will look inwardly to resolve envtl problems. Look Japan, if tsunami happens in Nigeria now, there is no preparation. Rescue manaagment, disaster managem
I
Dara
we don’t a full scale geo-physical survey of nigeria, no masterplan. Niger Delta has a blueprint after years of struggle. Every part of the country needs a masterpalan so that we can plan landuse in a holistic not haphazard manner. Deforetestation don’t just happen, people cause it. We have to strengthern our laws to tackle deforetsation, gully erosion, gas flaring, oil pollution, etc. The way an env looks can be used to measure a country.

Utomi
Env is not about talk, it is about realities. Tell me in what other part of the world oil coys operate the way they operate in Nigeria without consequensces. You what happened in the Gulf stream and how much BP paid becaise of the agitataion. Nigeria depopulated several times because our leaders attend conferences without translating what they learn into laws that will protect our people. If govt doesnt want to protect the people by protecting the env, it has no reason to exist.

Abati – Will you

Utomi
Nigeria was not ranked along Asia tigers but along with Brazil.
What happened in 50 years? Reasons for failure: oil came up but many countries have oil but it has not brought them back. National Oil coy of Malaysia
2 major accidents affected Nigeria. Western Nigeria created Ikeja industrial estate, East responded with and North respondend with kaduna. Over centralisation when oil became a factor affected the country. With a lot of money, Nigeria forgot about other sector. We had vison 2010, 2020, we should stop coming up with grandiose visons

Dara
Four cardinal progs of NTP.
We convinced that building of infrastrure, growing of national reosurces are interealetd. Building a new social order will help. We neither federal or republic. Nobody is bothered about that abbereation. Devolution of popwer to the federating units to manage their reources. Why will Rivers build IPP and feed it to National grid, what is the motovation to build more. We can’t build Nigeria econonmy as it is today unless you have nfrastyrute, poweer, road, water, amenitioes, ets.
We will build inter-state highways, world class infrastructure to stimulate the economy.
Ndok
I will bring economic prosperity to majority of Nigerians. Public expenditure is high. Govts are not consideratte. Consideration factor is non-existent. Futuristic plan for Nigeria to be ensured. Lets take devt into Lgs. Presently LG is at beggarly existent on the stratre govt. The resources coming now isd enough to transform the country.

Chief Matthais How to fund education and end strikes

Dara
Funding of education is not the only problem we have. The idea of getting money from oil and spend it is not the way forward. Japan was in a bad shape after the WWII. It took good leadership and mobilisation of funds, which Nigeria is lacking. Nigeria must have a culture of paying tax. When you create wealth you have money to spend.
Nigeria education system needs partnership between the public and private sector. We must organise our people to

Ndok
A nation that wants to grow economically must take education seriously. Nigerans want quality education and they are ready to pay for it. When Awo introduced free education, he asked people to contriibute a stipend, there was mayhem but it worked i benefitted form that. My school provided textbooks when i was going to school. Our teachers are not comfortable. Let them get their rewards here and not in heaven

Utomi
Education is top priority, national public expenditure. FG announced six new universities recently. It is non-starter. If gabbage goes into the system, what comes out is gabbaage. We have to ensure that people get true life skills. Teacher education, continous development for teachers. Public expenditure. I will shut down Abuja, it is bleeding Nigeria. We have to get our priorities right and not drain resources.
South Korea overtook us today because of education. 40% of budget of Eastebnrn Nigeria in the 60s.

Dara\
Education is fundamental huiman right. I am outraged that Nigeria has one of the highest number of school children who are not in school. In the North, 9.5 million children not in school. Enrolment, creating opportunity for everyone. The UBE law says it is free and lawful.


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