Former Governor Tinubu warns against postponement of 2015 general elections.
Fresh from a medical trip abroad, a national leader of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, on Saturday criticized the proposed national conference, describing it as “deceptive” and “diversionary.”
Mr Tinubu stated this in Lagos at a press conference he addressed shortly after returning to the country Saturday.
President Goodluck Jonathan had, in his Independence Day broadcast to the nation last Tuesday, announced the composition of a committee to hammer out modalities for a national dialogue.
The committee, headed by a former Senator and Chieftain of the Yoruba apex socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, Femi Okurounmu, will be inaugurated on Monday by the president at the Presidential Villa.
It has one month to conclude its assignment and submit its report.
Mr Tinubu, who arrived from the United Kingdom where he recuperated after a knee surgery earlier in the United States, wondered why the president was proposing a national dialogue only 15 months to the 2015 general election, adding that those running the federal administration were not even smart in their deception.
”Why is the conference coming at just about 15 months to the next general election” he asked. ”When will it hold? Why so sudden? I see a contradiction and diversion,” the former Lagos State governor said while addressing party supporters, who had come to welcome him at the Executive Jet Hanger One of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja.
”National conference is by whom, for whom, and at what stage? How many level of deception? These people (federal government) are not even smart public perception deception. I see a contradiction. I see diversion. I see deception, lack of honesty and integrity.”
Mr. Tinubu, whose speech was interrupted by intermittent shouts of praise by the crowd, said at no time had Nigeria in its 53 years of independence been divided as it was now.
The former Lagos State governor alleged that Mr. Jonathan was proposing the national dialogue because his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had been factionalized.
He said, “Nigeria has never been this divisive in its 53 years of existence, yet he (President Jonathan) now considers a national conference because of the apparent division in his party.
Mr. Tinubu also criticised the setting up of another committee by the Jonathan’s administration despite doing nothing with the plethora of reports by series of committees it established in the past.
”The president has received a lot of committees reports and we do not know whether the flood waters has washed them away or whether Boko Haram has taken them,” he said.
“There are no White Papers, no red papers, no black papers, nothing. Just absolute silence and yet we have another committee which is ill-timed.”
He demanded action on reports already submitted by the likes of Uwais, Lemu, Oronsanye and other committees.
”The timing is wrong. The programme is diversionary because there is no time for it now.”
Mr. Tinubu, however, assured that, as a democrat, he would discuss the issue of the proposed national dialogue with his party, adding “whatever the party says, I shall stand with.”
Postponing election will be insane
Responding to a question on whether the proposed national conference could be part of the plot to postpone the general elections, Mr Tinubu said, doing so would be insane.
”It will only be postponing the stealing and looting that some people are enjoying and we will not accept that,” he said.
”How long before the next elections, just about 15months and how long will it take to process the arrangement for such a thorough conference.
“I think we will talk about it (national conference) when we have a man of integrity, strong character and goodwill in charge of this country.”
The APC leader recalled that Mr. Jonathan had once stated that there was no need for Sovereign National Conference because the nation’s sovereignty lies with the national assembly.
”Democracy and sovereignty belongs to the people and not the national assembly and I suspect a distraction” he said, refering to the president’s sudden change of mind on the conference.
Mr. Tinubu, who arrived at the airport on a private jet at about 10.30 a.m, prayed for God’s forgiveness for those who circulated speculation about his death, saying ”they do not know what they are doing.”
The APC leader demonstrated that he had recovered fully by jogging and dancing with his wife, Remi Tinubu, a senator, at the venue of the conference.
He thanked all those who came to welcome him, noting that he missed home a great deal because ”this is the longest I’ve stayed away from home after the days of my exile.”
Among those at the reception were Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Rauf Aregbesola of Osun. Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola, is away in Russia on a business trip.
Also present were Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, who arrived in company of Mr Tinubu from the United Kingdom.