I want to thank all of you for taking time off your very busy schedules to be part of this session; especially a few days to the elections, which by all accounts could be historic and critical for the soul of our dear country.
Election is a referendum on the performance of the incumbent government and a decision whether to keep it in office or vote it out of office.
As Progressive Governors who are committed to Good Governance, this year’s 1st Quarter Progressive Governance Session is designed to present our assessment of governance challenges in Nigeria today as well as our proposals on what needs to be done to move our country forward, post- May 29, 2015.
The parameters of the referendum are defined by issues of national security, economic management, social issues and the like. So I will start by reviewing briefly the record of the current government and share with you what they say they have done.
Let me start with the Economy, and share with you a text message that I received from a Nigerian film maker in Nollywood on the 14th of March 2015.
This is what he said:-
“I will like to bring to your attention that there is a reliable information that our film has been pirated to be released in Alabaon Monday. I also want to confirm to you that the criminals committing this act are known and can be handpicked. There was a meeting with NCC last week where to our surprise they invited the so called pirates for negotiations and discussion on the previous works that they pirated. I am devastated sir and not sure what to do. Am not sure what you can do in your capacity as the executive governor of the State but I believe your approach to resolving issues in Ladipo could bring a lasting solution. This new development will not only bring a big set back to my business and the industry at large but will discourage a dedicated filmmaker like myself from going all the way in the name of being a Nigeria. Please do something sir”.
It must be clear to everyone that the greatest problem that people in the entertainment industry have is that their intellectual property rights are not being protected.
This is a law enforcement issue, rather than a cash solution that the PDP and its government has continued to proffer.
It is simple copyright law enforcement and the PDP simply does not get it.
As far as roads are concerned, and they are critical to the economic development and prosperity of our people for the movement of people, goods and services, the record of performance offered by the Federal Government is that they have constructed 25,000 kilometers of road.
How true that is, is to be measured by the complaints of PDP Governors themselves, who say Federal roads in their States have been neglected.
How bogus this is, is the realization that the distance between Lagos and London is approximately 5,025 kilometers.
Has the PDP Federal Government constructed roads that go the distance of Lagos to London 5 (Five) times?
Is it possible to do this by a Government that has never had a capital budget of up to 40% in 6 (Six) years?
As far as housing is concerned, please note that after being unable to account for $20 billion which is the equivalent of N3.3 Trillion at N165/$1.00 at the time the money was unaccounted for; after losing 400,000 (Four Hundred Thousand) barrels of oil per day for years, when oil was trading at $100 per barrel, meaning that we were losing $40,000,000.00 (Forty Million United States Dollars), the equivalent ofN6,600,000,000.00 (Six Billion, Six Hundred Million Naira).
Our country’s solution according to the PDP is to borrow $300 million from the World Bank in order to provide mortgage refinancing for all Nigerians.
What this means, is that every Nigerian must first buy a house with a mortgage loan, and then apply for his share of the $300 million as a refinancing facility.
That is the PDP model for housing.
I know that in Ogun State, there is a better model that places emphasis on housing construction in order to create jobs.
I can speak better about my State, where we are building public housing and allocating it to residents at a mortgage rate of 9.5% payable over 10 (Ten) years.
I know that construction is going on in no less than 25 sites, and we have not borrowed one kobo to fund this initiative.
It has been funded by tax payers’ money.
As far as employment is concerned, again their own service record is the place to look.
They say that they have created 2 (Two) million jobs. On a straight line analysis, this would suggest at least over 50,000 (Fifty Thousand) jobs in each of the 36 (Thirty Six) States and Abuja.
Simply ask yourself, how many people you know, who got those jobs. Were they part of the jobs in which people died while stampeding for employment in the immigration service?
Why is unemployment at 24% if this economy is working?
What I know is that between only (Four) construction companies over 5,000 (Five Thousand) workers have been laid off in this first quarter of 2015 and in the last two weeks at least 2,400 (Two Thousand, Four Hundred) bank staff have been laid off.
It is easy to summarize the security situation.
Thousands killed violently. Hundreds kidnapped routinely. 219 girls missing, citizens and even the Federal Government relying on alternative security, like ethnic militia to secure pipelines.
While all these happens, year on year, amounts close to N1 Trillion have been budgeted and expended on defence and security; yet there are unanswered questions of availability of equipment, while a new set of billionaires masquerading as security experts have emerged.
The answer of the PDP Federal Government and Mr. President himself is that General Buhari, who left office in 1985 did not equip the security forces.
Clearly the PDP forget that Nigerians remember that they have been in office for 16 (Sixteen) years, and President Jonathan has to account for 6 (Six) of those years.
They have killed Skekau, the supposed leader of the terrorist group at least 4 (Four) times.
During one of those killings for which they claim success, they signed a ceasefire with him; from which he quickly played his part by attacking more Nigerians.
After the 4th (Fourth) killing, there are now instructions to capture him.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are two common denominators in the record of service of the PDP Federal Government.
The first is FAILURE and the second is LIES.
They have failed in their management of the economy and they have been untruthful about how bad the economy is.
These numbers are important. They dimension the real difficulty Nigerians are dealing with.
I expected that when the PDP Governors gathered in Lagos, on their poorly conceived mis-adventure, they would have spoken about these issues.
Instead, they were seeking to stop the use of Card Readers which their Government approved.
They forgot that they were the ones who approved the use of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC).
They forgot that they postponed the elections because they said enough PVCs had not been issued.
Now that PVCs have been issued, should we not verify and authenticate eligible voters with the Card Readers?
· We recognize the issues in the Nigerian State
· We keep a track on them
· We have made them the issues in the election as you will have heard from our Presidential candidate and his running mate
· No amount of Goodluck can help the PDP escape from these issues.
· Our candidates have kept the Nigerian electorate focused on the issues of jobs, security, and corruption
Our opponents urge that they are moving forward.
The question to ask is what their definition of forward is.
· Moving the rate of exchange of the Naira to the dollar from N120 to $1.00 toN198 to $1.00 is not the way forward
· Managing an economy where employers cannot keep people at work because of bad government policies is not the way forward
· Unemployment is not the way forward. Employment is the way.
· Inventory of imported raw materials trapped in the port is not the way forward to economic recovery.
· Fuel queues arising from Government failure to pay importers is not the way forward.
· Blaming the opposition for fuel shortage is not the way forward.
· The largest economy in Africa that cannot generate electricity is not the way forward.
· The avoidable loss of human lives, and the unresolved disappearance of 219 (Two Hundred and Nineteen) young girls is not the way forward.
It is the opposite of development. It is the opposite of industrialization. It is the opposite of job creation.
It is the way backwards.
It is not the way to continue.
Ladies and gentlemen, like Vision 2020, like the 7 Point Agenda, like the comparisons to Martin Luther Kings, Lee Kwan Yew, Nelson Mandela, Barrack Obama, and the Transformation Agenda, all of which have been abandoned because they are not true, it is obvious that our opponents in Government, have lost their way.
They are reading the Developmental Map of Nigeria upside down. So they do not know the way forward.
The Nigeria ship of State is heading in the wrong way because the captain cannot navigate.
This is the most important reason why PDP and the President must be voted out of power.
In 2011, President Jonathan made a total of 91 (Ninety One) electoral promises around power, security and the economy.
Majority of them remain unfulfilled.
Between then and now, he set up a total of 28 (Twenty Eight) Committees as his Government’s response to critical national issues such as Nuhu Ribadu fuel subsidy scandal committee, Steve Oronsaye harmonization of Government Agencies and Department Committee, Justice Alfa Belgore Committee on Abuja Parks and Zoo, Edem Duke’s Committee on Proliferation of Small Arms, Ibrahim Sambo Presidential Fact Finding Committee and PriceWaterHouse Coopers forensic audit of the missing oil receipts in the region of $20 billion.
The President has either forgotten or refused to either make public the reports of these Committees, or implement them.
The President resumed work only 6 weeks ago, because of elections.
Nigeria needs a full time President not a part time one.
General Muhammad Buhari will be a full time President, ready to work every day.
A full time President will re-set and re-direct this Nation and set her back on the right path.
That is the way forward.
The second major reason is that after 16 (Sixteen) years of start and stop, policy changes and no verifiable results, this country will benefit from a fresh pair of hands, that will have another look at the problems that have defeated the PDP for 16 (Sixteen) years.
We simply cannot continue on this road that has failed us, and expect different results.
A vote for change is the first step in the expectation of different and better results.
Instead of running on their record of service, the Party in power has chosen to become film makers, making one poorly scripted documentary after the other.
The tragedy is that after one year of TV propaganda dating back to March 2014, their bird has refused to fly. There is nothing to sell. The good governance road show died on arrival. And the captain was initially honest in Lagos to admit failure.
The PDP led Federal Government has no credible record to defend nor a roadmap to rectify the damage they have done to our body politic, our economy and all our institutions.
It is perfectly understandable that when you have an indefensible record like theirs, you resort to despicable diversionary campaign, the like we have not seen before.
We have demonstrated and must continue to demonstrate that there is a gulf of difference between the APC and the PDP, not only in our visions (if they have any) and in our policies, but that we are willing to engage with them in a transparent and accountable manner.
Our party, the APC has presented a year 2015 Election Manifesto, while the only known Manifesto of the PDP is dated 1999.
We are committed to reinventing governance in Nigeria in order to solve our socio-economic and political challenges.
We were farsighted when we established the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), where these kinds of questions and issues have constantly been interrogated through effective research, knowledge sharing, consultations and policies, at our quarterly fora.
So when the APC talks of change, what kind of change are we talking about?
How do we plan to redefine the concepts of leadership and responsibility?
The objective here is to demystify governance and restore ownership of the country to the Sovereign- the Citizens!
It means that we must be accountable to the sovereign for our performance and how responsive we are to their wishes and demands.
It means that the citizens will always retain the right to “hire and fire”.
It means that we must embed the Rule of Law, political and civil liberties in our political culture. The culture of unbridled impunity must come to a grinding halt!
APC does not believe that the Federal Executive Council should be reduced to a bazaar which merely awards contracts to leaders of ethnic militia posing as socio–cultural groups, to the detriment of constitutionally established institutions and in subversion of the procurement laws.
Were these contracts advertised? Where was due process here?
We are certain that this session will, in many ways, give more clarity and further insight into the kind of change APC represents.
The other presentations will amplify many of the issues I have addressed so far. While not underestimating the enormity of the challenges that will face an APC led Federal Government.
The APC is proud to have as its flag bearer, a patriot with the public stature and integrity of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who has unreservedly committed to this vision and mission as reflected in his Covenant with Nigerians and campaigns promises.
It is not by accident that teeming millions of Nigerians are showing their support effusively for Gen. Buhari.
What I have confirmed since the emergence of Gen. Buhari as our Presidential candidate, is that Nigerians still believe in the virtues of probity, selfless leadership and commitment to the greater good inspite of the 16 years of failed PDP government and leadership that they have been unfortunately saddled with.
For many years I have heard complaints about PDP’s dismal management of our national life.
Many Nigerians have expressed understandable frustration that PDP could not be defeated because there was no formidable opposition.
Our leaders have heard these frustrations. They have organized rather than agonise.
They have sacrificed their smaller parties and leadership role to deliver the first ever political merger in the history of Nigeria.
They will all vote for the APC, but they cannot elect the APC into Government. That is the duty of the Nigerian electorate if we must experience change, and save our country.
With the emergence of APC, PDP began to unravel.
With the mismanagement of its top leadership it began to dismember, losing its most vital parts; and making history for all the wrong reasons.
It is the first political party that I know that lost 5 (Five) Governors to the opposition without an election.
It later lost the Speaker of Parliament, and eventually its former leader and Chairman Board of Trustees.
The giant is tattering and about to fall.
For every goliath, there is a stone.
The APC is PDP’s stone and the people of Nigeria must rise like David to bring this plundering goliath down.
The merger was historic. But it will be more historic if Nigerians elect that merger to office.
The people of Nigeria will have taken power by doing so.
Let me underscore once more that while the APC is ready, willing and able to take on the huge tasks of regenerating our country once more, APC is humbled by the enormity of the challenges it has to deal with in the next few years.
Once more, let me re-affirm the commitment of the PGF to continue to provide the platform where our party, governors and other stakeholders will continually engage, reflect on critical issues and challenges, and more importantly proffer implementable policy options to address these challenges- indeed more than a talk shop!
It is now my privilege to invite you to listen to the presentation of our leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and the other panel presentations on “Sustaining Development in Times of Dwindling Resources”, to be followed by an interactive session among the participants.
God bless us all as we work to protect our democracy.
Mr. Fashola is the governor of Lagos. He delivered the above speech, entitled “March For New Nigeria” at a conference of APC governors held in Owerri on Monday, March 23, 2015.