Beyond the PDP convention

An electoral official counts votes for the presidential ticket of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) during the party’s national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on October 7, 2018. – Nigeria’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has picked Abubakar to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking a second term in presidential polls scheduled for February 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

It was a great relief to the Nigerian people to see the peaceful and orderly conduct of the just- concluded Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primaries held in Port Harcourt over the weekend. The interests of a select group were discarded for the enthronement of the common good of all to the admiration of not only party faithful, but both local and international observers who witnessed the exercise, proving doubters wrong on the ability to run an open democratically approved process.
The exercise saw the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, give support to the candidature of Governor Aminu Tambuwal prior to the convention, and his insistence on the Port Harcourt venue. One cannot fail to say that the economic activities of Rivers were greatly boosted to the joy of all in the state. However, the PDP was able to demonstrate that the mantle of leadership of a country of over 180 million Nigerians should not be tied to a supposed kingmaker as we have experienced in the South-West, where a single man, determines the political fortunes of a whole state known to be the economic hub of the nation. The PDP was indeed able to show that, it has overcome the era of impunity and selfish interests that forced intelligent and proven managers of state and personal resources out in the Obasanjo’s reign of “do or die” politics that led Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua of blessed memory to acknowledge the fact that the election that brought him to power in 2007 was fraught with irregularities.

The time has now come, for the PDP to actively move forward and keep the economic blueprints, painstakingly researched and put together by their candidate on the front burner. The clamour for restructuring and decentralising the system which will ensure a robust and competitive development of the six geopolitical zones of the country has heightened to the point at which the continued survival and existence of this marriage called Nigeria is dependent on it.

The overwhelming recurrent expenditure that yearly finds its way to the National Assembly must be reviewed and cut down to the barest minimum. In other words, the well-debated solutions contained in the sacred document of the 2014 National conference must be revisited and implemented to the letter.  The Petroleum Industry Bill and the Electoral reform act must be signed into law within the time frame of four years, if indeed the PDP wants Nigerian voters to take them seriously, especially the Niger Delta that is daily injected with toxic effluent and spillages on a daily basis.  The populace is indeed excited that His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar who has far-reaching operations in the maritime industry, is the best man to resolve the shameful state of the perennial traffic grid that has besieged the Apapa/Oshodi expressway. It is, therefore, a great opportunity to open up the southern and eastern ports.  This will help to reduce the cost of goods in the hinterlands and eradicate the petroleum equalization fund that is meant to reduce the cost of fuel in the northern axis.

Being a product of the benevolence of American Peace Corps, Atiku Abubakar is in the best place to implement UNESCO’s benchmark on education funding. The recommendation states that 26% of the nation’s budget should go into funding education which we believe will neutralize the ranks of the Boko Haram sect thereby building on the legacies of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan in the provision of Almajiri schools. Education gives the child a fundamental basis to build upon to cater to their future and their society at large. One must readily commend the efforts of Tambuwal in the provision of 29% of the 2016 state budget. It is a worthy legacy the PDP should build upon. More funds need to be allocated to the research institutes which will, in turn, encourage our scientists to remain in the country. One major pain is the issue of capital flight as Nigeria even with the massive availability of manpower is yet to undergo her first industrial revolution. The school curriculum must be rejigged to address the challenges confronting the nation as people. It will be a great cause, to imbibe the beliefs of the late premier, Obafemi Awolowo in the provision of free quality basic education to children across the country. This is far better than the shambolic school feeding programme currently being run by the Buhari administration.

The agricultural policies of Governor Dankwambo that have made Gombe State the West African headquarters for trade in grains should be showcased and implemented. Nigerians expect the PDP to address the issue of the flood that will definitely increase the price of food in the coming days and the sorry state of IDP camps across the country.  The importance of the availability of food in the nation is directly related to afforestation and reclamation of desert-encroached areas in the far north via all year irrigation. This will address the continuous annihilation of the agrarians in the middle belt especially the Benue axis were the souls of the slaughtered still cry. Nigeria still cannot forget the fact that mayhem started upon the declaration by the state government that a day in the week was for farming.
Farming is an age-long tradition and must be encouraged by training more agriculture extension personnel to properly guide the locals on best practices. Atiku and the PDP must remember that the green colour in the Nigerian flag represents the natural vegetation of the country. Hence, concerted efforts must be put into making Nigeria once again flourish in agriculture as it were before the discovery of crude oil at Oloibiri.
The white colour on the flag representing peace is a great paradox considering the bloodletting that has taken over the country. It is expected that Atiku having huge experience in managing human resources, will dedicate his quest for leadership to unifying the divide across the land. A man without peace of mind can never attain the level of productivity the Creator has designed. Peace must reign from Bornu to Sokoto, Lagos to Benue and Rivers to Abuja for Nigeria to once again regain her prestigious status as the largest economy in Africa.
Roy-Omoni wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

In this article:
Aminu TambuwalNyesom Wike
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