Opposition figures on Thursday stepped up the marketing of their newly-christened joint party, the All Progressive Party, with a promise that the new platform would bring an end to the rule of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, a key component of the new alliance, Bola Tinubu, described the years of PDP in power as the rule of “scavengers and wayfarers.”
“What we have now are wayfarers, scavengers in the corridors of power and apologists, professionals whose ethics evaporate the moment they come in contact with the paraphernalia of power.
“But there is help coming. Help is on the way as the opposition moves to form a broad-based coalition that will send these characters out of power and put into gear the Nigerian project.”
Another key figure in the new political dispensation and an ex-Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, also enjoined Nigerians to give the APC, an identity unveiled just on Wednesday, the opportunity to prove itself in rescuing the nation from those he called “strong men” that had damaged the system.
Tinubu and Buhari spoke in Abuja at the public presentation of a book, The Accidental Public Servant, written by a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. The el-Rufai book, an expose on the thoughts and words of men of power during the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, had already become controversial before it was presented to the public.
Tinubu said the story of the country had not changed from what it was during the time el-Rufai was in government.
He said that the situation had worsened with the citizens saddled with a government concerned more about “elongation in power and fighting imagined enemies” than applying themselves to running the country properly.
Tinubu, who was represented by the ACN spokesman, Lai Mohammed, thanked the author for exposing the “unbridled lust for power” by those in government.
He said, “Thanks to Nasir, we now know that most of our leaders are soon overcome and consumed by their unbridled lust for power; Nasir tells us Nigeria still has a long way to go and the architects of a new Nigeria are not yet in place.”
Tinubu described the book as unrivalled in the history of the country, noting, however, that the author could not exonerate himself from what happened during the Obasanjo administration which was the focus of the book.
He said, “In as much as Nasir may not and cannot exonerate himself from all that happened, he has chosen a road less travelled by telling it all. One of yesterday’s men is coming clean.
“The power and courage of Nasir’s work is not just in the carefully woven narrative but in the mere fact that the key figures he has written about are still alive and perhaps only one or two of them are dead, hence, Nigerians should expect to get a few reactions and if lucky see more books churned out by a few who think Nasir has only told the story of that era from his own angle.”
Buhari said that Nigerians should give the APC a chance to prove itself, assuring that the party would not disappoint them.
The new party consists of the ACN, CPC, All Progressives Grand Alliance, and the All Nigeria Peoples Party though Anambra State Government, administered by an APGA Governor Peter Obi on Thursday dissociated itself from the merger.
In a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Chief Joemartins Uzodike, the state government also said the Anambra State chapter of the APGA was not a party to the merger.
The statement said the issue of merger had never been discussed at the National Executive Committee of the party and neither had any national convention of the party been called to discuss the so-called merger.
It rather said that APGA was part of the PDP-run Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan, having benefited in appointments from the government.
“Our Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, has never mentioned any issue regarding APGA merging with any political party in the executive council meeting of the state,” the statement added.
But Buhari said the new party would strive to meet Nigerians’ expectations and “I will want the people to give the party a chance to rescue the country. People talking about the disintegration of Nigeria don’t know what they are saying; Nigeria is too intertwined to break up.”
The CPC presidential candidate said the nation needed courageous people like el-Rufai to appeal to the people’s conscience.
He said the nation deserved principled leadership, noting that the first Premier of the old Western Region, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was spending 55 per cent on education, while the northern region spent 5 per cent on education and about 56 per cent on security.
Buhari blamed ‘strong men’ for destroying the strong institutions in Nigeria left behind by the colonial administration, adding that el-Rufai’s book was the ex-minister’s way of reviving the comatose institutions in the country.
Niger State Govenor, Aliyu Babangida, a PDP member, also at the forum said he wa-s delighted with the new party being formed by the opposition.
He said, “I am one of those in the PDP praying for the merger to work; it will rationalise Nigerian politics and put an end to riff-raffs and charlatans in government.
“People have been coming to me to ask me if I am interested in the Presidency and I said yes. I am prepared for The Presidency, I am not an accidental leader; I am prepared for the Presidency, but I won’t comment on when I will run.”
However, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, attributed the backwardness of the country to disregard for merit and competence.
He stressed that important national issues should only be entrusted to capable hands.
Sanusi said, “I always tell people that our problem is not corruption, but disregard for merit and competence. In our private lives, we entrust the most important things to people we trust but we left important national issues in the hands of those with nothing to offer; People should be judged by their character and not their affiliations.”
Also, the author, el-Rufai, shed tears, while thanking eminent Nigerians for attending the programme.
Meanwhile,the PDP on Thursday congratulated those behind the new APC and challenged them to engage the PDP elected and appointed officials on issues of governance.“
National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh, in a statement said, “We charge the opposition to use the new party to challenge our elected and appointed officers on debates on issues of governance.
“We are ready, willing and able at any time to debate on any issue pertaining to the economy and any other issue of governance.
“We want useful and constructive debates so that at the end of the day, Nigerians will be the utmost beneficiaries.”
Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, on Thursday, however, ridiculed the emergence of the APC, saying it posed no threat to the PDP.
“PDP is not threatened in any form by the merger. The only challenge that I see in this kind of fusion is that they are not driven by ideology. They are driven by people and positions,” Ahmed said in Ilorin during a monthly public enlightenment programme tagged, ‘The governor explains.’