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Ribadu pledges one million houses, 30m jobs

IT was a day for Nigeria’s renewal for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) yesterday as it kicked off its presidential campaign with a colloquium in Abuja.          

The event apart from being a novelty in electioneering in Nigeria, was issue-driven and the common denominator in the speeches of the party leaders was the birth of a new Nigeria through the ballot at the forthcoming April general elections.

One after the other, ACN leaders including its presidential candidate, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the party’s Deputy National Chairman, Boss Mustapha, Chief Audu Ogbeh, former Lagos State Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu and others brought current disturbing national issues to the front burner at the discuss.        

Ribadu, who was the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), went into the specifics of his administration if elected into office and how they will be actualised.

He promised that an ACN administration would “bring to all Nigerians a sense of hope that would radiate across the land when the party initiates its one million houses a year and through this scheme alone, open the doors for 30 million jobs. Imagine what we will do in the area of arts and culture with the creation of a national endowment of the arts that will empower our young men and women to be productively engaged through this country’s first structured cultural entrepreneurial scheme.”

On the power sector reform agenda of the ACN, Ribadu said: “Now that we all know that the ruling party has completely lost the will and is incapable of summoning the vision of tackling the power sector challenges, it is important to share our broad thoughts on how this priority sector is located at the heart of our economic development programme. How can a country like Egypt with 80 million people be able to generate 25,000 Giga watts of power and South Africa with a population of 35 million generates 40,000 megawatts while Nigeria, the presumed leader of the region, only generates 3,000 megawatts of power.

“ACN administration will move promptly to diversify the energy mix and invest in decentralised renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass, especially in rural areas, with limited grid access.”

According to him, an ACN government would also provide fiscal incentives for private developers by employing clean technologies in areas like coal power generation. “Through a vigorous consumer education programme, we shall also promote the most efficient use of energy.”

He said as citizens of other countries, especially in Africa, are protesting against their dictatorial leaders, Nigerians should act sensibly and effect the change they are yearning for through the ballot.

He said Nigeria needs a leadership that will create a united, modern, secured and just society to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and also address corruption, insecurity, and economic failure. This he identifies as the three fundamental ills now plaguing the country.

Ribadu said unless Nigerian leaders actively disable the capacity of corruption to regenerate, “through a cocktail of excellent laws, professional enforcement engagements and a vigorous public education on its dangers to our social health, no governance policy will work.”

He lamented that 50 years of failed leadership and corruption had “conspired to deny Nigeria its place of honour and pride,” but quickly added that the future of the country could still be written in “bright and warm colours.”

Ribadu stressed the need to address decades of under investment, policy incoherence and a failure to appreciate the crucial role of modern infrastructure in economic development and social cohesion that have put Nigeria in the class of failed nations.

The presidential candidate said even though it had become fashionable for most leaders to talk mechanically about change in the country, including “those who have inflicted the worst injury on the nation’s treasury, the change that Nigeria needs now must start with a leadership that is transparent, accountable, competent, experienced, and virile.

“We must not lose the significance of this event as it is occurring against the international background of momentous political changes taking place in the north of our region – from Tunisia, through Egypt, to Algeria and Yemen, where young people are kicking against enthroned autocracies that have pinned their nations down for decades.

“They are tossing off decades of oppression and failed forms of governance.  In an exciting display of people’s power, these young men and women are demanding, negotiating, and securing democracy through the slogan of change. If we fail to urgently realise the vision of a modern Nigeria, the echoes of currently muted, but potentially destabilising, change will soon consume our land.”

Ribadu therefore promised that if voted into power, his administration would “be guided by an unalloyed loyalty to party principles and programmes anchored on social justice compact targeted to the transformation and development of the nation on the ethos of distributive justice.

The former anti-graft czar noted that Nigeria for long has suffered “failure of governance, failure of economic management, and a failure of the national social contract,” pledging that an ACN-led Federal Government would tackle the ills of the society by revitalising the economic and social sectors such that the chronic problems of power, infrastructure, social amenities, and unemployment get the true attention they deserve.

“The ACN must take these matters serious and work to reverse the leadership and integrity deficits that characterise many departments of our nation’s life. What we need today is a transformational leadership model that shows courage in making difficult decisions with respect to issues that has plagued the nation.”

In an interview with journalists, Tinubu said ACN under a free and fair contest would win the 2011 presidential election.

He noted that ACN is a party of ideas and committed to the transformation of Nigeria to save it from the ruins of the past.

Tinubu said: “When you look at the country, the social amenities, our economic level, empowerment of our people, we have over 10 million unemployed graduates and all these tell you that the country is yearning for change. If you prevent rigging and manipulation of results, ACN will carry Nigeria to the promised land. We want to provide a 21st Century leadership that has the courage, firm determination and vision to drive the nation. The Peoples Democratic party (PDP) has no room in South-West, they are suffocating themselves, and we will sweep the bad leadership and underdevelopment away with our broom”.

He described Ribadu as a courageous, determined, forthright individual that has good vision for the country.

Mustapha said as the leading opposition party, “ACN needs to position itself in the vanguard of not only changing Nigeria’s debased political ecology brought about by over a decade of misrule by the ruling party but to defend, deepen and consolidate its democracy and overall well being.”

He said the party would achieve that through concrete political engineering and consciously redirecting the nation’s politics from that of big men to that of big ideas through its well thought-out policy options as encapsulated in the party’s manifesto.

His words: “Now that the nation’s political space is already being seriously fouled by the sheer incompetence of the PDP, we have the patriotic duty to individually and severally see to it that this great country of ours does not degenerate beyond what it is now. Our first step towards doing that is to come up with concrete and practical measures to eradicate abject poverty, secure life and property, expand human capacity in science and technology.”

In his overview of the ACN manifesto, Ogbeh, who heads the Manifesto Committee, said the party would provide Nigerians a genuine democratic alternative to the existing political order that tends to constrain the economic development of the country.

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola after reeling out his administration’s achievements, said the PDP has no manifesto that can galvanise Nigerians into action.

The party’s National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, who was absent at the event, was said to be attending ACN convention in the United States.

Other party stalwarts in attendance included the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, his Osun State counterpart Rauf Aregbesola, and the Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi.

Others were the former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, erstwhile Governor of Jigawa State Saminu Turaki, one-time Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, and former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Akpan Udoedehe.

-Guardian

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