The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, has rejected claims by a former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, that Nigeria is heading towards the threshold of collapse.
Dr Ezekwesili made the claim during an appearance on Sunday Politics, urging those in government to accept that the country is “not in a good place at all” as a step to solving the challenges bedevilling the nation.
But Mr Shehu who spoke during the programme via phone call dismissed the claim, saying, “If the country is collapsing, it is collapsing somebody’s dream.” He urged such a person to “wake up” and rescue the dream.
“Nothing Is Collapsing,” he declared. “The country is strong, moving on”.
According to Mr Shehu, the progress of the country is further evident in the fact that democratic elections are held winners are declared.
“You win or you lose,” he said, stressing that those who lost elections were behind much of the criticism against the government.
“Having lost the elections, they are devising new ways so that they can grab power. So, let’s see how they can contest and get power,” he said.
Asked about the unemployment rate in the country, the security challenges in the country and other challenges, the Presidential media aide argued that they were not new challenges.
According to him, armed robberies are not new, and political opponents had been killed in the past even before Buhari became President. He explained further that even the security challenges had their roots pre-the Buhari administration.
A former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has warned that Nigeria is edging closer to collapse and the leaders must act to prevent that from happening.
“Initially, I kept saying that we were a fragile country. Now, we are fast-heading towards the threshold where you have a state collapse and we can’t stand watching while that happens,” she warned during an appearance on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics.
For her, the signs captured in the definition of state collapse are now present in the country. This, she explained, involves looking at the security situation, the economy, social cohesion and political stability.
“When these four things are in the negative then you are fast-heading towards what is known as state collapse,” she said.
Dr Ezekwesili, who is also a former Vice President of the World Bank for Africa, added, “Everything seems to have fallen apart. We practically have no institutions that are standing in their credibility at this time.”
She believes a first step towards reversing the situation in the country is for those in government to accept the signs.
“I think it is critical for people in government to accept that the country is certainly not in a good place at all,” she said.
“That ownership of your situation is an important and critical step towards solving a problem. If the government pretends that all is well with Nigeria, then it shows how absolutely isolated from the issues and challenges of the people that they lead.”
Should that critical step be taken by those in power, she then expects the President and the leadership at the National Assembly to come together to convene “a state of the union conversation”.
That conversation would have to be a very honest one about “what we do with Nigeria”, she said, stressing that “Nigeria is not in a good place at all”.
A former Presidential Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria in the 2019 elections, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, has blasted the performance of the Buhari Administration, especially in terms of economic and social growth.
Dr Ezekwesili, who is a former Vice President of the World Bank, believes Nigerians have become poorer in the last four years.
“The economy is a complete disaster. What has happened since this government came into office has been a decline,” she said during an appearance on Channels TVs Politics Today on Thursday.
“First, we went into recession and went into -1. 8% GDP growth. Then we came out of it at 0.8% growth, then we climbed into 2.38 (and) now we are at 2.01. So, what it means is that as these lower levels of GDP growth rate are going on and our population (growth) rates are steady at above 2% – almost 3%, we actually are getting poorer.”
Nigeria’s unemployment rate has been a source of complaints and led to criticism for the government.
A situation were millions of Nigerian have no jobs is a red flag for Ezekwesili, who explained that if the country was public quoted company it would have been put up for rescue operations.
“We are in serious trouble. If we were to be a publicly quoted company, we would have been put up for a special team to undertake a rescue operation on us,” she said.
“Do you understand what it means for us to have near 25 percent unemployment rate in the country; for more than 40 percent of our young people to be unemployed?”
According to her, it is critical for the government to get its economic policy right and if she is the President that will be a priority.
“Economic policy has to signal immediately to the market that we will be a government that enables and support the private sector to do what it must do, while we will invest in the most important area of human development, health and education because we need a productive citizenry,” she said.
Former presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has apologised for what she described as an error of judgement in joining the party in her bid to become president.
Dr Ezekwesili tendered an apology while addressing a world press conference in Abuja on Monday.
“It has been an interesting one week since I made the tough but necessary decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency,” she was quoted as saying on Twitter. “I have been truly overwhelmed by the reactions to my announcement from Nigerians.”
She added, “I ask for the forgiveness and understanding of all who are hurt by my withdrawal from the race even as I take comfort in the fact that they would agree with my choosing to stand with my values rather than compromise.”
“Thank you to the young people who accepted and owned our campaign, to the women – my sisters and comrades – who worked and walked with me, to every believer and supporter from different tribes, states, religions and walks of life.”
The former minister said the accusation of fraud levelled against her by the party were laughable and alien to her character.
According to her, members of the ACPN were frustrated with her because they assumed being a former minister, she would have money stashed away or would use her global network to raise money for the party.
“One of the more laughable moments of the past week was hearing allegations that my presidential candidacy was a scheme to negotiate for a ministerial role. This is the height of political comedy, I must say,” she stated.
Ezekwesili disclosed further that her party card and other ACPN belongings in her possession have been returned to the party.
She said she was concerned about the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that she cannot withdraw from the presidential race less than 45 days to the elections.
She thanked her campaign team, noting that they would be getting some much-needed rest after the struggle.
The former presidential candidate said, “Here are the facts that speak for themselves. Since I resigned as a cabinet minister in 2007, it is known that I have declined offers by different governments to serve as a minister again.”
“Why would I then go through the pains of launching a presidential campaign to negotiate for a role I last occupied twelve years ago and have thrice rejected since after?” she questioned.
Ezekwesili added, “Such mud-raking tactics is the reason why our best minds abstain from offering themselves up for political office thus leaving the worst of us to lead the rest.
“More hilarious was the accusation that I raised and looted campaign donations. It is only morally bankrupt politics that can make anyone even imagine such accusation against me.
“My absolute dedication to public accountability is widely known and no matter how much we had hoped to raise as campaign support from the public we designed an accounting system to go beyond the basic minimum of accountability required by the Electoral Act.”
The party accused Ezekwesili of taking the decision to withdraw from the presidential race without informing the ACPN leadership whose mandate she was holding.
It also alleged that the former minister was not serious with her presidential ambition as she only showed very little commitment to it.
The ACPN said, “If you observe, Dr Oby Ezekwesili is the only presidential candidate who is so militant in her campaign without any tangible thing on the ground to indicate any seriousness in the persecution of her campaign.”
“No campaign secretariat, billboard or great commitment on the ground to indicate any seriousness.”
The party explained further that it was for these reasons that it decided to withdraw its support for the presidential campaign of the former minister.
It added that it has endorsed the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari who it noted would take the nation to the next level.
Other ACPN leaders who signed the statement are Paul Isamade – National Secretary, Bosun Omosule – Deputy National Chairman (South), and Ibrahim Goronyo – Deputy National Chairman (North).
The party issued the statement hours after Dr Ezekwesili announced her withdrawal from the presidential election scheduled to hold on February 16.
In a statement by the spokesperson of her campaign organisation, Mr Ozioma Ubabukoh, she said the decision followed extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life across the country over the past few days.
The former minister explained that she stepped down from the race to help build a coalition to prevent the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from winning the election.
Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has withdrawn from the 2019 presidential race.
The spokesperson of her campaign organisation, Mr Ozioma Ubabukoh, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.
He explained that the former Minister of Education stepped down from the race to help build a coalition to prevent the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from winning the election.
According to the statement, the decision followed extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life across the country over the past few days.
“I deem it necessary for me to focus on helping to build a veritable coalition to ensure a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the forthcoming elections,” Dr Ezekwesili was quoted as saying.
“It is my ardent belief that this broad coalition for a viable alternative has now become more than ever before, an urgent mission for and on behalf of Nigerian citizens. I have therefore chosen to lead the way in demonstrating the much needed patriotic sacrifice for our national revival and redirection.
“I wish to state that over the past three months, I have been in private, but extended talks with other candidates to birth a coalition that would allow Nigerians to exercise their choice without feeling helplessly encumbered by the evil twins of #APCPDP.
“While the deliberations continued, I never hesitated for a moment in my willingness and determination to sacrifice my candidacy in order to facilitate the emergence of the envisaged strong and viable alternative that Nigerians could identify within our collective search for a new beginning.
“My commitment to this promising political recalibration has been consistent and in consonance with my agreement, at the request of candidates under the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) arrangement in 2018, when I consented to supervise the internal selection process as an outside observer passionate about building an alternative force.”
The presidential candidates of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Democracy (ANN), and Young Progressives Party (YPP) have answered a question asked by child comedian, Emmanuella Samuel about their plans on improving the quality of education in government schools.
Oby Ezekwesili of the ACPN said that her plans for improving the quality of education when she gets into office will be to improve the skills of teachers in the public schools and the curriculum of these schools.
She explained that the quality of the teachers is dependent on the kind of training that teachers get.
She said that her government will ensure that there are programmes put in place for teachers to enhance their skills such as Colleges of Education and Nigerian Teachers Institute.
For Fela Durtotoye of ANN, he said that when he gets into office, one of the ways he will improve the quality of education in government schools is by providing a free transport system for children to schools and from schools back to the bus stops close to their homes.
While Kingsley Moghalu of YPP, said that he will be an education president by ensuring that secondary schools in Nigeria are free.
He emphasised the need for the public schools to be invested in, saying “It is what you put in that you get out”.
The presidential candidates of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Democracy (ANN), and Young Progressives Party (YPP) have called for a paradigm change in the Nigerian political sector.
Obiageli Ezekwesili of ACPN, Fela Durtotoye of ANN, and Kingsley Moghalu of YPP, made this call at Saturday’s debate organised by the Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
Though five candidates were selected by NEDG and BON, two were noticeably absent and these were the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The absence of President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP further strengthened the arguments of the other three candidates who blasted the flagbearers of the two major parties in the country, for shunning what many Nigerians consider the mother of all political debates.
No prior notice had been given to the organisers of the debate by the camp of the APC candidate, President Buhari regarding his absence at the debate.
On his part, Alhaji Abubakar arrived at the venue of the debate in Abuja, but just as the debate was about to start, he refused to join the other three candidates who had already been called to the rostrum by the moderator.
The Buhari campaign organization released a statement saying that the president was not at the debate because he had already attended a live town hall last Wednesday. On his part, Mr Abubakar, who was at the venue of the debate but refused to mount the podium, said there was no point participating in the debate if Mr Buhari will not be attending.
In their absence, Oby Ezekwesili; Fela Durotoye; Kingsley Moghalu, took to the stage to tell Nigerians of their plans for the country if elected president in the election in February.
The candidates, who are all political outsiders as this is the first time they are seeking elective positions, kicked-off the debate with gusto.
They told Nigerians why they were qualified to govern the country and what they were going to do differently if elected to lead Africa’s most populous nation.
Though the candidates agreed on the “need” for a political disruption, they had divergent plans for Nigerians as contained in their manifestoes.
We Must Disrupt Our Pattern Of Politics Or Continue To Fail – Ezekwesili
Ezekwesili said at the debate that the people must disrupt Nigeria’s pattern of politics in order to end what she described as a cycle of failure.
The former education minister said she believes that a major problem which the nation has witnessed over the years, is bad leadership which she says has increasingly led to poverty and lack of hope among citizens.
She said, “The problem with our country was identified by Chinua Achebe when he said the problem of Nigeria is simply and squarely a problem of leadership”.
“It is urgent for us to change the direction of our country,” she noted.
Durotoye explained that he got into the race because of his zeal to serve the people of the country, noting that he is a Leadership expert that has helped others to discover their potentials, a skill which he believes will help restore the hope of the Nigerian people.
He said his plan to grow the economy is centred on the improvement of agriculture, housing and road construction. He promised to increase the use of Nigeria arable land from 37 per cent to 50 per cent.
According to Durotoye, by fixing road agriculture and housing, he intends to create 30 million jobs.
Addressing security issues in Nigeria, Durotoye said, for security lapses to be fixed in Nigeria, then the leadership of the Armed Forces must not be based on nepotic biases.
He said the security agencies must be strengthened.
“First and foremost we must ensure that the institutions, the security agencies are strengthened,” Durotoye said, adding that to strengthen the institutions, “they must be properly led,” he said.
He also noted that, “You have to make sure that the leadership of the police, the civil defence corps, the leadership of the army, the navy and all of the armed forces are based not on nepotism, not on friend or man know man as we say sometimes in Nigeria”.
The ANN presidential hopeful said the leadership of the armed forces will be based “On performance and the brightest and the best will be selected amongst the people and promoted to lead the rest and provide for them, role model leadership”.
He further noted that investment in technology will also play a key role in ensuring that Nigeria is secured.
He said the armed forces must be motivated, noting that “Nothing demotivates the military or any of the security forces more than not having the proper equipment to be able to do the work that they have been trained to do”.
We Cannot Fix The Economy If We Don’t Fix Our Politics – Moghalu
Professor Kingsley Moghalu said Nigeria’s political system must be fixed before its economy can experience any significant improvement.
“Let’s first understand that we cannot fix the economy if we don’t fix our politics,” Moghalu said.
“Our economy can never grow for as long as we are led by the incompetent, visionless, and recycled and arrogant old politicians that have run this country’s economy into the ground and are seeking another four years of poverty for us,” he added.
The ex-deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said he joined the presidential race because he believes it is time for a different kind of leadership in the country.
He said his aim was to address the root causes of the problems that beleaguered the country.
“We will restructure the country to establish its potentials,” he said. “We would restore Nigeria position in the world. Nigeria’s position in the world has fallen.”
The YPP candidate stressed the need for Nigerians to elect a president who understands how to manage the economy.
He further highlighted some of the strategies he plans to use in fixing the nation’s economy to improve the standard of living of the people.
According to Moghalu, the problem the nation must solve is that it does not have an economic policy.
He said the nation has to realise that it needs to decide whether it is a capitalist or socialist country and the type of capitalism it is practicing if that is the case.
“My approach to the Nigerian economy is, first of all, to focus on reforming the educational system, to ensure that our young people have the skills that can make them competitive in the 21st century and the skills that can give them jobs or help them to set up their own jobs,” the YPP candidate stated.
He added that there are plans by his administration to ensure the youths have access to finance through “N1trillion venture capital fund” which would provide equity capital for them.
On fixing the economy, he said the country’s politics has to be first fixed. “The path to fixing Nigeria economy depends on who becomes the president of the country,” he said.
He promised to move Nigeria away from an oil economy by focusing on innovation and spreading ICT to rural areas by providing incentives for start-ups to move to the rural areas, vowing to curb corruption and tribalism and ethnic considerations in the appointments of military leaders.
Moghalu promised to increase the education budget to 20 per cent of the annual budget and will reform pedagogy.
He also promised to end the perennial strike of university lecturers, saying, “We will invest in how our children learn … then we will invest in educational infrastructure and finally, I will end ASUU strikes in Nigeria“.
“When I say that I will be the education President of Nigeria, the YPP is committed and my government will make secondary school education free in this country.”
United In Our Diversity
The debate came to a very beautiful end with all three contestants coming together, joining their hands in unity as the award-winning singer, Timi Dakolo crooned sonorously his patriotic song titled “Great Nation”.
The presidential candidates of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Democracy (ANN), and Young Progressives Party (YPP) have slammed President Muhammadu Buhari (APC) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (PDP) for shunning Saturday’s presidential debate.
Obiageli Ezekwesili of ACPN, Fela Durtotoye of ANN, and Kingsley Moghalu of YPP, who were at the presidential debate, said the absence of Buhari and Atiku from the debate showed that they and their parties have no regard for Nigerians and lack the answers to critical questions.
Ezekwesili said, “I’m not surprised they are not here. They have just simply announced their exit from the governance of our country.
“I think it is important for us to acknowledge that there is a political class that needs to fade away from our country because the idea that the will of the people will be subordinated to the whims and caprices of our politicians should be a total anomaly and, today, as we in this country focus on the ideas that will develop our country if the two dominant parties cared about the Nigerian people, they would come here in order to have a contest of ideas on how we would fix Nigeria.
“I must let you know that for the Nigerian people, this is a moment to make a clear judgment as to whether we are connected to the issues that matter to the Nigerian people.
“We showed up for this debate not because we are new entrants into politics but because we believe it is time for a new kind of governance in Nigeria.”
For Moghalu, their absence smacked of the arrogance.
He said, “I am not at all surprised that the leaders of the APC and the PDP have decided to turn their back on the people of Nigeria and tell them finally, they never amounted to much in their eyes.
“The reason why they are not here: one is arrogance. They believe the people of Nigeria have no voice and no choice. They believe that you cannot move away from them.
“They believe they have trapped you, they have kept you in bondage for over too long and it is now time for us to send them a message. The second reason why they are not here is because they cannot answer the questions. Very simple, very straight-forward. They belong to the old class of recycled politicians who want to come to power with a sense of entitlement.”
Durotoye stressed that both Buhari and Atiku have set themselves up for a fall.
He said, “Well, it seems that the future is here. Pride always comes before a fall and every time you believe that there is no need to tell the people the things you are going to do, it means you are not there to serve them in the first place; you are going to rule over them.
Like Moghalu, Durotoye said Nigerians should not be surprised by their absence.
“This has been consistent over the last 20 years,” he said. “We have had 20 years of rulership and rulers do not explain to their subject what it is they are going to do. They don’t owe it to them. I think the greatest deceit we have to deal with in this nation is that rulers call themselves leaders and make us, subjects feel like followers. We are not followers, we are subject to them.”
The Nigeria Elections Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria had invited the trio along with Buhari and Atiku for the Presidential debate.
While President Buhari did not show up at all, Atiku showed up at the venue only to leave without participating in the event. He blamed his decision on Buhari’s absence.
The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPM), Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, has called for the removal of Amina Zakari as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Collation Centre Committee.
During a recent interview on Channels Television’s Hard Copy, Ezekwesili insisted that Zakari should not be given any task during the general elections for integrity sake.
“She shouldn’t be at all involved in any task that involves the conduct of the 2019 elections. She is an interested party.
“If we want the highest level of electoral integrity, Amina Zakari who is a professional in her own right, should continue to be a Commissioner but don’t put her in the conduct of 2019 elections,” Ezekwesili stated.
Following the appointment, prominent Nigerians including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have rejected the development, calling for her removal on the ground that she is related to President Muhammadu Buhari and might want to influence the election.
Although the Presidency and INEChave denied the allegation, Ezekwesili described the denial as “lies.”
She believes that although Zakari may not be related to Buhari by blood, she is related to the President by marriage.
“It is a shame that they are lying. They know that the President’s sister was married to Amina Zakari’s father. So there is definitely a strong relationship. I am not part of the party that talked about blood relations.
“I know there is no blood relationship, but I know there is such proximate relationship. And that relationship used to be thrown around until it became a problem,” she added.
The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Mrs Oby Ezekwesili has vowed to fix the nation’s power if elected President.
Ezekwesili made the pledge in Abuja, the nation’s capital on Thursday when she took her presidential campaign to Nyanya market, a popular metropolitan hub in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“With an Oby Ezekwesili as the President of this country, the Electricity Power Act will be fully implemented. The next thing you will see is that power sector in Nigeria will reflect the kind of progress we have seen in the telecom sector,” she stated.
According to her, previous governments failed to implement the 2005 Electricity Power Reform Act.
This, she said, was responsible for the failure of the power sector that has taken negative effects on business in the country.
She added, “The policies and legislation for the power sector were in 2003. In 2005, we had the same policies and legislation to enable the change of the power sector. The subsequent governments should have continued with the full implementation of those policies and legislation
“They didn’t but decided to reverse it back to where the government is the one and the only thing that wants to decide everything in the power sector. That is why it crippled the performance of that sector.”