The ACN chieftain unveiled the policy direction of merging APC at a London conference.
From the United Kingdom, the leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, called for a glorious revolution in Nigeria, which will convert the country’s democracy into a full-fledged one; as well as the implementation of policies that will turn the political economy away from its retrogressive, elitist bearings.
Mr. Tinubu, who is a major promoter of the proposed merger of opposition parties into All Progressives Congress, APC, criticized the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, saying it has failed to address the vital needs of Nigerians.
The former governor spoke while delivering a speech at the Grand Committee Room, Westminister Hall, Houses of Parliament, on Monday.
The event was convened by the British African Diaspora Conference and hosted by Lammy and Iban Lewis, both members of the British Parliament.
“Here I advocate a new thinking and a new direction. Nigeria needs its equivalent of the Glorious Revolution. I use this term knowing critics will complain I advocate overthrow. I do no such thing,” Mr. Tinubu said.
“I do not support the Jonathan government but I oppose anyone seeking its premature, illegal end. Let this government end at the appointed time. But let it end through the ballot box. Then I shall say good riddance.
“The Glorious Nigerian Revolution of which I speak has nothing to do with force of arms. The Revolution of which I speak has two major parts.
“First, is the peaceful conversion of our quasi-democracy into a full-fledged one. Second, is the implementation of policies turning the political economy away from its retrogressive, elitist bearings.
“We seek policies pointing in a progressive direction affording the average person a chance at a dignified life. This will be through the provision of gainful employment, quality education and essential social services for those who need the helping hand of government to survive. I see no shame in believing progressive government can improve the political economy and the lives of the people.
“It is quite apparent to me that political leadership serves no useful function if it is unable to address the vital needs of the people. There is no question that the current Federal government has thoroughly failed in that enterprise and this explains the focus of the new opposition the APC.”
The ACN chief said that the yet-to-registered APC is convinced and clear about the direction it would take the nation, adding that the association’s government, if elected, would pursue dynamic, time-tested and bold policies that would liberate Nigerians.
He noted that the central focus of the merging parties in the coming years would be the implementation of the most extensive and aggressive plan to lift as many Nigerians as possible.
“As our new coalition, All Progressives Congress, APC, takes form, we are convinced and determined about the direction we want to take our nation and our people. As leaders of the new party and government in waiting, we intend to pursue dynamic, time-tested and bold policies that will liberate our people by making sure our wealth works for us. Let me put forth a few.
“The Central focus of our efforts in the coming years must be the implementation of the most extensive and aggressive plan to lift as many Nigerians out of poverty as possible. Our desire is to be able to move at least 20% of our people out of poverty (defined as earning less than a dollar a day) in the first 4 years of our administration.
“To do so we begin from the premise that the Washington Consensus and the IMF/Post-Bretton Woods prescriptions for development have served their time and to a large extent have not delivered on their promises.
“There is a need for what has been described as a THIRD PATH – a Pathway between the pure market-driven, neo-liberal socio-economic policies and the various variants of the command economic models. That Third Path is particularly important for countries such as ours with an incredibly large and growing poor, poor infrastructure and weak financial and social institutions, the results of which are the frightening social tensions, terrorist violence and kidnappings.
“For us that pathway is clear. It means developing our own Marshall Plan resulting in direct intervention of the State, thereby halting the pauperization of our people but simultaneously ensuring that intervention itself spins off jobs and growth. It also means working aggressively to improve infrastructure.
Stating that the immediate priorities of the association is to sort out the energy problem, Mr. Tinubu lamented that the country’s efforts to provide adequate energy have abysmally failed, stressing that no nation could develop economically and meet the needs of its people without uninterrupted energy supply.
He said the APC administration would also construct trans-state highways, promote business growth in all sectors and invest in agriculture.
“How can any nation think of setting up refineries without constant power supply. Taking crude oil and exporting same cannot result in exponential growth for any country,” Mr. Tinubu asked.
He also spoke about how the APC plans to improve power supply.
“To improve energy supply, we would encourage Independent Power Plants, IPP, in designated industrial zones to reduce the horrendous power component of the cost of local manufacturing.
“Secondly, the construction of Trans- State highways, such as the speed train that will connect the North, South, East and West and move people, fuel, farm produce and goods, cost-efficiently across the country.
“We will emphasize and promote the growth in all sectors in the first 4 years by making small business the engine of growth. Foreign investments will ride on the back of thriving local investments, initiatives and a stable polity.
“Investment in agriculture and agro-allied industry is a must for us. We firmly believe that Agriculture will provide food for subsistence and export. Most importantly, it has the potential to create millions of jobs for both the illiterate and literate population. It is from agriculture that we can fight hunger and process raw materials for the industrial sector.
“It appears that every government in Nigeria has realized the centrality of agriculture, the problem has always been the absence of a forthright and creative plan, focus and commitment to implementation,” he said.
Mr. Tinubu added, “Again State intervention is the key. When domestic and foreign demand is stimulated, farmers must be assured of minimum prices for their produce. A variant of the commodity boards is the model we are currently working on. The agency will be required to prioritize cash and food crops for which government will guarantee a minimum price. This way the farmer is confident that his investment is protected.
“But it is perhaps the various dimensions of our National Social Security Programme that has occupied the thoughts of our economic team most forcefully. Just to outline the broad themes of the policy :
“First, we intend to establish a partly contributory National Social Security Scheme. Some categories of the poor and vulnerable will benefit with or without contribution. We believe that every Nigerian over the age of 60 who is not under a pension scheme and also qualifies as poor by a “Means Test” must be given a monthly stipend. Widows and the disabled proved by a “Means Test” to be poor must also be provided a monthly stipend whenever they are unemployed. They become disentitled when they are employed.
“To capture unemployed graduates the Youth Corp scheme will be reviewed for pragmatic implementation for skills development and social services. The scheme may be extended for an optional 18 months within which Youth Corp member is paid and trained.
“One year of Youth service and six months of training in Entrepreneurial or other useful skills while looking for a job or starting a business. For instance, the CO-CREATION technology and Innovation Centre in Lagos where technology savvy young people are given the space and facilities to develop software and applications of different kinds is an indication of how in a few years with adequate government support we could create thousands of IT related jobs and opportunities throughout the country.”
The former governor argued that no nation can be a democracy without genuine elections, adding that If Nigeria is to mature as a democracy, “we must improve our electoral system. Today, those who control the system manipulate elections with such impunity that they now see misconduct without sanction as a normal way of life.”
He recalled the controversy surrounding election of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, chairman, saying, “Thirty-five state governors assembled to vote for the chairmanship. They did this among themselves by secret ballot. One contestant earned 19 votes. The other attracted 16. In a place where honesty matters, the result would be clear and undisputed but not in today’s Nigeria under the current leadership.
“The chap who earned fewer votes was declared the winner by those who backed him. In Nigeria, the tenets of basic arithmetic have little application concerning elections. Votes do not count, they are concocted.”
“Elections are not necessarily won by the candidate with the highest votes. Elections are won by the candidate of the powerful and mighty. Consequently, a group comprising all the nations’ governors could not even conduct a simple 35-person election without a disputed outcome.”
On national security, Mr. Tinubu told his audience that while the Jonathan’s administration promised peace and security, insecurity has thrived under its unwatchful eye.