By Dirisu Yakubu, ABUJA
To take her rightful place in the community of developed countries in the world, Nigeria must quickly restructure in line with increasing calls by her citizens across the world, governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have said.
The governors stated this at a two-day event organized for National Working Committee, NWC members-elect in Abuja on Tuesday.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Sokoto state governor and chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has in the past six years, failed to take the country to the heights expected by Nigerians, adding that as a result, the PDP must strategize to take over in 2023.
He said: “Nigeria must embrace restructuring to survive. It must restructure its polity, economy, security and ways of doing things. It must embrace relative autonomy and decentralisation of power. This will unleash the energies of our people, especially, the young. It is time to allow Nigeria to blossom. It is doable with all hands on deck.”
Continuing, Tambuwal noted that “a rickety vehicle cannot take Nigeria to its destination as the nation with possibilities for greatness and progress. PDP is now once again a well-oiled, serviced vehicle that will midwife the Nigeria of our dreams.
“It is indeed time to rescue and rebuild Nigeria. Nigeria is in urgent need of a surgical operation. Nigeria is in a permanent emergency.
“We all know what the problems are. They are man-made and are therefore resolvable. It requires a focused, determined, knowledgeable and patriotic organisation of like-minds to build the critical mass necessary for a great leap forward. Yes, it requires leadership, with vision and discipline.
“We suffer from a crisis of governance. The unity of Nigeria is facing unprecedented challenges. Life in Nigeria is increasingly becoming brutish and short as insecurity ravages the land.
“Poverty is the forte of the ordinary Nigerian. The health and education of our people have not improved. Our people are in want. The economy is in dire straits with the exchange rate now about N540 to a dollar from the N150 to a dollar when PDP left office. Prices of foodstuff and essential commodities are unsustainable, clearly beyond the reach of the average Nigerian.”
Rating the Buhari government low, Tambuwal said the ruling party has clearly demonstrated gross incompetence in managing the fortune of the country, saying, “between 35 to 40 per cent of Nigerians are unemployed and women and youths bear the main brunt. Bandits, kidnappers, terrorists are having a field day, almost unchallenged. Our children are not safe even in their schools.
“Corruption still stalk the land. Nepotism, ethnic and religious bigotry reign supreme in today’s All Progressives Congress, APC’s Nigeria. Our infrastructure is still comatose.
“Trust and hope in Nigeria are at their lowest. Our lamentations can go on, ad infinitum. But the test of leadership is the ability to solve problems.”
He called on PDP leaders to think outside the box, rather than resorting to criticisms only and rescue Nigeria for good.
“We cannot only criticize, but we must also provide workable solutions and clear policy alternatives. This will be presented to the Nigerian people. A sharp contrast must be drawn with the ruling incompetent and rudderless APC administration.
“Where APC thrives in excuses, PDP will take responsibility. Where APC thrives in propaganda and deceit, PDP will be transparent with Nigerians. Whereas APC Government thrives in insecurity, PDP will secure Nigeria. Whereas APC presides over Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world, PDP will make Nigeria prosperous.
“APC has wrecked our economy, but PDP will salvage it. Where APC focuses on selective anti-corruption fight, PDP will fight corruption with appropriate institutional reforms,” he added.
He further emphasized the place of technology in national development, saying, “We must embrace innovation and technology as a way of life. Technology will solve the youth unemployment time bomb. Technology will improve our agriculture, health, industrialization, education and indeed, it has implications and impacts on all facets of our lives.”
Earlier in his opening remark at the event, national chairman-elect of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu said Nigeria “is in very deep trouble,” and as a result, the PDP has a duty to rescue and rebuild the country.”
The former Senate President spoke of the significance of the retreat this way: “In this time of grave challenges for our country, this retreat is to recommit us to the sacrifices we need to make to rescue and rebuild the country. And talking about sacrifices, I acknowledge that, as PDP members, you have been making enormous sacrifices, especially those of you who have held firm to our principles in the last 6 years plus.
“But think about the bigger sacrifices made by our founders who, at great risk, challenged the military leadership and played a critical role in winning back civilian control over our government. Without their sacrifices we would not even have a platform and a voice today, not to talk of gathering here for this stock-taking.
“And talking about stock-taking, this retreat is an opportunity for us to also do that: take stock of where we are as a party, how we got there, what went well and what went wrong, and then collectively think of how we can do better for our party and, more importantly, for our country.
“You may agree with me that in the last two election cycles, we allowed ourselves to be defined by the APC with its massive propaganda machine. Are we going to allow that to happen again or would this retreat help to give us the tools and ideas to enable us define ourselves before an opponent does?
“In my view, we can no longer be a party that just reacts to what the APC government does. No, we can’t be that anymore. We must be a party that thoughtfully articulates and designs a clear programme of where we want to take Nigeria as well as how we hold the rudderless APC government to account.
“We must be more than a party that just issues the occasional press statement condemning the APC government. We must demonstrate to Nigerians that years in opposition have not
dented our will and desire to win and to govern for the benefit of our country. Nigerians look up to us to reunite this country which has been badly divided over the past 6 years. Nigerians want to see that we are united and ready to govern.
“The damage done by the APC is pretty obvious – insecurity everywhere, including shared sovereignty with criminal and terrorist gangs, a collapsed economy with a comatose manufacturing sector, soaring prices, naira near worthless, interest rates very high, with the Central Bank of Nigeria picking and choosing winners and losers and virtually running a parallel government, (which even leaves the Vice President confused), collapsed infrastructure, terrorist sympathizers in government, and confusion everywhere, as Fela would say.
“We must offer a clear, workable alternative to rebuild our country. Just recently the United States Council on Foreign Relations published a study by two experts which said Nigeria is, already a failed state that has reached a point of no return and would collapse. That is where the APC government has brought us to.
“We need not waste our energy arguing whether the American researchers are right or not. Rather, we should focus our energies, imagination and creativity towards ensuring that their prognosis does not come to pass. We must work to reverse that march towards collapse.”
A PDP government, he noted will “rebuild a Nigeria that secures its borders and protects its law-abiding citizens wherever in the country they may live, whatever their occupation and whatever their language, religion or ethnicity.”
A lot of work awaits a PDP government and in his words, “we have to rebuild a Nigeria with roads, bridges, and railways that crisscross and connect different parts of this country to facilitate and promote the movement of people and goods to grow our economy.
“We have to rebuild a Nigeria that pays decent wages to workers so that we actually have a real economy driven by higher productivity.
“We have to rebuild Nigeria to become a fertile ground for our young people and other entrepreneurs to unleash their creativity and innovativeness consumer spending.
“Let us rebuild Nigeria as a country that does not treat any of its peoples as second-class citizens.
“We have to rebuild our party so we can rebuild Nigeria. We have to enthrone internal democracy in our party and get accustomed to it. Let us collectively rebuild PDP as a peoples’ democratic party, as our name says, a party that truly belongs to the grassroots.”
“Let us put behind us the quarrels of yesteryears. Let us not fight yesterday’s wars but instead recognize the APC as the real obstacle and danger to Nigeria’s progress as a developed, united and forward-looking country.
“Let us, therefore, direct our energies towards defeating that party and implementing a programme of rebirth, growth and opportunity for our country,” he added.
Giving an overview of the highs and lows of the PDP since its formation in 1998, former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, called on party leaders and stakeholders to stay focused and forge a common front in the task of wrestling power from the ruling APC in 2023.
The event was attended by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Governors Nyesom Wike, Aminu Tambuwal, Ifeanyi Okowa and Godwin Obaseki of Rivers, Sokoto, Delta and Edo states respectively
Also in attendance were former Cross River state governor, Liyel Imoke and Chairman, PDP Disciplinary Committee, Chief Tom Ikimi among others.