Serving ministers yesterday stormed the ancient city of Ibadan where they appealed to the people of Oyo State and South West geopolitical zone to vote for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections.
Specifically, they told the people that the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari will allow the South West to regain the presidency after his tenure in 2023.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that the region produced the first president during this democratic dispensation when President Olusegun Obasanjo emerged president in 1999.
The minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola made this statement yesterday at a special town hall meeting on infrastructure organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture in conjunction with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), yesterday.
In his company were the minister of transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and his counterparts in Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, and Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
While reeling out achievements of the current administration, Fashola said the choices before people of the South West region was to either vote for the past government that did very little with huge resources at its disposal or the current government that has done so much with little.
Fashola urged the people of the South West geopolitical zone to vote for the incumbent president, Buhari, so that when his second tenure ends in 2023, the region would then produce the next president.
According to him, Buhari’s second term in office will automatically guarantee the return of power to the region by 2023.
“Yes, this town hall meeting started before politics, but now we are in a politically ready arena, we have to make choices. The purpose really is to choose whether what you have chosen has worked for you, so I will be speaking around that area because we have to choose.”
The minister, who spoke in Yoruba language, said: “Did you know that power is rotating to the South West after the completion of Buhari’s tenure if you vote for him in 2019?
“Your child cannot surrender her waist for an edifying bead and you will use the bead to decorate another child’s waist.
“A vote for Buhari in 2019 means a return of power to the South West in 2023. I am sure you will vote wisely.”
Fashola’s statement seems to have corroborated the revelation by Senate President Bukola Saraki to the effect that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was backing Buhari’s re-election in order to succeed him as president at the expiry of his second tenure in 2023.
However, some of the president’s ministers and aides have been canvassing for votes in the South East geopolitical zone, saying the president will hand over to one of their own when he leaves office.
The secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, was also reported to have told South East people that the shortest route for them to achieve presidency was to vote Buhari in 2019, so he can transfer power to the region afterwards.
Also, Labour and employment minister, Dr Chris Ngige, and the director-general of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu, both APC stalwarts from South East, had weeks ago chorused that re-electing Buhari will ensure Igbo presidency in 2023, which is the central campaign message of the APC to woo voters in the region.
Meanwhile , Fashola declared that the APC-led federal government had fulfilled its promise to the region and to Nigerians in general.
“In the South West of Nigeria today, including Lagos, we have 67 road contracts. Yesterday in the Federal Executive Council, we added another one, Agbara to Seme Border road. A number of these contracts are repair contracts, which speaks to our commitment to maintenance,” he said.
Giving a breakdown, Fashola said that 19 of the road contracts are in Lagos State, 14 in Oyo State, 12 in Osun State, and nine each in Ogun and Ondo states.
The minister noted that only the APC-led federal government had offered election promises during campaigns since the return to democracy in 1999.
“Let me remind you that you will go back a long time before you remember a government that promised you a clear election message. You will probably go back to Awolowo’s UPN, his four cardinal points. What were you promised in 1999?” he asked.
“This government promised you security, improved economy and to tackle corruption, and we have kept to that promise; we are not changing. So that is the first difference between us, because you have to choose.
“So when the time comes, you will remember that this is the first time Nigerians are voting to different parties within the same republic, so you will judge what has been done for 16 years and what we have done in less than four years.”
According to the minister, the total budget for the Ministry of Power, Ministry of Lands and Housing and the Ministry of Works in the 2015 budget was only N26.2 billion, but that the APC government had increased it to N234 billion.
He said: “In 2015, when we were handed over government, the budget for Works for the whole of Nigeria was N19 billion, the budget for Power was N5 billion for the whole of Nigeria, budget for Housing was N1.2 billion; so for the three ministries that I now superintend, the total budget was N25.2 billion. That was the year I was leaving office as governor of Lagos, the budget for works in Lagos was over N70 billion, for Lagos alone. And at that time, oil was over $90 per barrel but when we came into government oil price had gone down, but President Buhari said we must invest in infrastructure. So in 2017, the budget for the three ministries was N394 billion. So when they come to you in 2019, ask yourself the question: who is more serious about your infrastructure?”
Fashola further noted that the government-owned Power Transmission Company (TCN) had 36 projects in the South West, in addition to housing projects the federal government was executing on a pilot stage in all the South West states, except Lagos.
“In those states, 61 contractors are employed by us as we speak, and they also employing people who work under them.
“In that overview, let me say that if you don’t travel from state to states, you’re not likely to feel our impact on roads, because we are not responsible for inner city roads. What we voted President Buhari for us to manage the interstate roads with other states so that we can do business with them,” he noted.
The host minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, noted that the current administration realised that no nation can develop without massive investment in infrastructure, therefore it made such investment a priority.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that President Buhari’s major rival in the 2019 polls, Atiku Abubabar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), chose his running mate from the South East with the understanding that he would hand over to someone from the region at the expiry of his tenure, if he emerges victorious in 2019.
Again, PMB Knocks PDP’s 16-year Rule
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday again described the Peoples Democratic Party’s 16 year-long administration as a wasted opportunity for the country.
According to him, the PDP wasted Nigeria ‘s commonwealth during that period, pointing out that there was nothing to show for the huge resources earned in the country during the period.
Buhari, who spoke at a dinner for youth political appointees at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also took a dig at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, querying the $16 billion expended on the power sector during his administration .
“There was no power (yet) they said they spent $16bn on power; where is it?” he asked.
The president expressed his disappointment at the Nigerian press over what he termed the poor coverage of his go-back-to-land agricultural revolution programme, saying the media did not give the credit of the ongoing transformation in the agricultural sector of the country to his administration.
He said: “I’m very disappointed with the Nigerian press. They didn’t give this government the credit of the go-back-to-land programme. We have cut down the importation of rice by at least 90 percent.”
Buhari stated that Nigerians are now leaving white-collar jobs for farming to tap from the revolution, adding that the country has achieved food security.
The president also said he appointed Chief Audu Ogbeh as the Minister of Agriculture in view of his experience in the sector.
“Ogbeh went to a bank, borrowed money and invested in agriculture. He suffered but eventually he paid the money. So, you cannot have a better person than somebody who has suffered in the sector,“ he said.
Speaking at the occasion, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, also carpeted the PDP, saying the party did not achieve one-tenth of APC’s achievements in its 16 years at the helm of affairs.
He said, “As a government arm, we have achieved so much and I am going to make available to you a document that we have put together, which captures what the government has been able to achieve in just about three and half years – what I call a midterm report.
“If we have to make a comparison of what has been achieved in the last couple of years, the 16 years of PDP administration will not constitute one-tenth of what we have been able to achieve in the last three and half years.”
The SGF added that while the ruling party went to the 2015 elections with promises, this time around it would go to the 2019 elections with its record of achievements.
2019 Polls Will Be Credible, INEC Assures AU
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the African Union (AU) that the 2019 general election will be credible.
Speaking while receiving a delegation of the AU who came to Abuja to access the commission’s level of preparation for the 2019 polls, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said the election will be credible.
He said, “Your visit is coming exactly 113 days to the elections in Nigeria scheduled for Saturday 16th February 2019. We welcome your mission to Nigeria and appreciate your active involvement in election observation in Nigeria.
“We recall with delight that the AU sent one of the largest election observation mission for the 2015 general elections made up of 84 observers led by the former interim President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Professor Amos Sawyer.
“INEC has studied both the interim and full reports of the AU Election observation mission and we are delighted by your overall positive recommendations. We wish to assure you that INEC has and will continue to improve on the conduct of elections in Nigeria”.
Yakubu said INEC has taken into considerations some of the AU observations and recommendations directed to the commission in planning for the 2019 General Elections.
He stated: “Specifically, you recommended that INEC should improve on the overall planning and implementation of electoral operations with regard to voter registration and the issuance of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
“In response, and for the first time in the history of elections in Nigeria, INEC conducted the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) from 27th April 2017 to 31st August 2018 during which some 14.5 million new voters were registered in addition to about 70 million voters registered before the 2015 General Elections.”
“This brings the total number of registered voters in Nigeria today to well over 84 million. We have also systematically printed and made available the PVCs for collection by citizens in batches well ahead of the 2019 General Elections. The last batch of the PVC will be available for collection in early December and collection will continue until at least one week to the 2019 General Elections.
“We are finalising a new strategic approach to the collection of PVCs by registered voters and wish to reassure all new registrants as well as those who applied for transfers and relocation or the replacement of their cards that their PVCs will be available for collection ahead of the General Elections.
“The second observation raised by the AU, which is related to the first one, is the review of the Election Day procedures to make them less cumbersome for voters by re-examining the system of separate accreditation and voting. I am happy to report that this has been implemented. Since the Governorship election in Bayelsa State in December 2015, we have been conducting simultaneous accreditation and voting.”
Yakubu further told the AU delegation that INEC had similarly responded to other recommendations that require amendment to the legal framework by working closely with the National Assembly.
He said, “Only this week, the National Assembly passed a bill amending the Electoral Act in addition to the alteration of five (5) sections of the Constitution dealing with elections.
“Once again, I welcome you INEC and look forward to detailed discussions on our preparations for the 2019 General Elections as well as your further observations on how to strengthen our electoral process,” Yakubu Added