Opara, PDP chieftains flay president
By Clifford Ndujihe, Emman Ovuakporie, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Gbenga Oke, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Omezia Ajayi
Mixed reactions ranging from the need to face reality to assertions of unfaithfulness yesterday trailed news of President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion of abandoning the All Progressives Congress, APC’s promise of paying out N5,000 stipends to some unemployed Nigerians.
While some as Governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Tanko Almakura of Nasarawa State saw the reversal as a consequence of economic realities of the time, some leading lights in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as erstwhile deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir Austin Opara saw it as another betrayal by the APC.
President Buhari, who was away in Saudi Arabia during an interactive session with Nigerians in that country reportedly claimed that the payment of the N5,000 handouts as promised by his party during the campaigns was not his priority.
Other prominent Nigerians who spoke on the issue included former minister and member of the Board of Trustees, BoT of the PDP, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, members of the House of Representatives, former commissioner of police in Lagos State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, president of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, President of the Campaign for Democracy, Dr Joe Odumakin among others.
Asserting that the president was right in his new assertion, Governor Okorocha said if carried out to the letter, it might lead to marrying a harem of women as wives and increased intake of alcoholic drinks.
He said “To be honest with you, it is a great idea, but there are many ways to give that support. Sometimes it could be in cash which has its negative challenges. Handling of that is also in itself a wonderful and great idea.
Governor Al-Makura also speaking on the issue yesterday said: “The President is the person that can tell you precisely how he is working on promises and interventions that he has created by his ingenuity. And if at any point in time the President is reviewing that issue, I think he is the only person to do that because what he is doing is in the best interest of the country.
Elder statesman and ranking politician, Dr Tanko Yakassai, on his part, said he was not surprised at the manner in President Buhari is discarding some of his campaign promises.
Yakassai in a telephone chat with Vanguard said the Buhari-led federal government was not adequately-prepared for governance.
“I am not surprised because they did not plan for most of the promises they made and that is why they cannot implement them. They were not prepared for power and I have said this before, not to annoy them but to caution them on the need to go back to the drawing board,” he said.
In his response, former deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara said it was very unfortunate that the APC hoodwinked Nigerians with a negative change which could not materialize.
According to him, “It is very unfortunate that Nigerian politicians won’t keep to the promises they made during electioneering campaigns and coming from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not only disappointing but very disgraceful”.
A retired Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav said: ‘’The President has said he did not promise that. It is a wise decision to fix infrastructure instead of paying N5000 to unemployed ones. When infrastructure is fixed, people will get jobs and the nation will be better off. It does not mean reneging on campaign promise because he said he never said so.”
President of the Campaign for Democracy, Dr Joe Okey-Odumakin said: “It is clear there is some disconnect as the president said ‘they’ promised but ‘I’ never did. What this shows is that there was no coordination in the campaign.”
Odumakin, who is also president of Women Arise for Change Initiative, urged that “the president should now clarify what his own promises are so that people will not be holding on to what ‘they’ promised.”
A former Minister of Transport and a member of thePDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, though declined to comment on the development, noted that the decision laid with the president.
He said “I do not have any reaction. He (Buhari) can do whatever he wants to do. You want change, good luck to you.”
On his part, chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran said; “Campaign promises are tinkered with when the reality dawns on the political actors. Usually, they make those promises based on conjectures rather than objective assessment of the reality on the ground. Some of these decisions are far beyond their capacities to implement, that was what would have informed the reneging on that promise.
President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, said “To me, it is an abuse on the sensibilities of Nigerians for any politician to come out publicly and make promises to Nigerians. After securing the office, such politician now reneges on their promises.
”It is uncalled for and I do not think it is right. The president must find a way and ensure that the stipend is paid.”