The All Progressives Congress (APC) roadshow rolled yesterday into Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, where its leaders renewed their call on the G-7 Governors and members of the New Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join the APC.
The delegation, led by the Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, former military Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari and former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, met Kwara State Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed, members of the House of Assembly, PDP leaders and others.
Other APC chieftains on the entourage include former governors of Edo and Benue states, Chiefs John Odigie-Oyegun and George Akume, former House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Bello Masari, APC’s Interim National Publicity Secretary Lai Mohammed, former Works Minister Hassan Lawal and another ex-minister, Alhaji Musa Gwadabe.
The APC leaders did not mince words on their mission – to woo Ahmed into the progressives’ camp.
First to speak was Akande, who said: “I am at home and I don’t think I should have to perambulate too much, except to say that we’ve come to Kwara State through the governor to invite first all of you to our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and secondly, we are not limiting our visits to the members of the new PDP, which they call the G-7; we are extending the visit to all the other governors and all the other members of the PDP because we are starting a revolution that will make us a country of the progressives.”
“And that is what we have started just about a week ago and we hope to use Kwara state as a clapboard to enter the heart of every Nigerian that it is better to live for the people.”
Tinubu bemoaned woes of Nigeria, occasioned by bad and visionless leadership.
Said he: “To the people of Kwara State, I will say we have brought joy, joy for the change. We brought hope and we brought friendship. And bringing that is to introduce to you again formally the APC.
“The appropriate name, the appropriate movement and the appropriate political platform for the current situation in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Why we have not succeeded in fraternising the opposition and the government is not challenged to be responsive to the people because there was no strong alternative platform.
“There is an army of unemployed; our youths are frustrated. Even if we can manage our own hunger, but can any graduate or none graduate going to bed every night hungry think right of democracy? Can a woman in labour with pains who has not been able to take proper care of the first child and having the second think well of democracy if there is no proper medical care? Can we talk today of solid and good education that was given to us by our own fathers, because education is a weapon against poverty; can we boast of that in the face of this unending crisis in the education sector? Before you know it, this electricity supply will flip and can we continue to sit back and lament and complain about the suffering, about government, about Nigeria going backward and drifting or do something; talk together; work together and challenge ourselves for the future of our children.
“Kwara State is a beautiful bride, but go and ponder yourselves very well, freshen up with nice perfume and come on marry us; with that we will have stability and progress. That is our proposal and that is why we are here, we want that beautiful bride to be ours so that you all join hands together and rescue Nigeria from drifting.
“This is the time to do just that and if we miss this boat, our grandchildren will give us a poke in the nose. They will curse us – God forbid. We are capable of bailing Nigeria out of poverty. We have very progressive platforms in Lagos, Oyo states; go there and see what we are saying and if you collaborate, agriculture will become revived; farmers will be incentived and industries will be established in Kwara.
“There will be progress, there will be employment. But if we are not collaborating, if we are not cooperating. If we are not putting our political act together, government will continue to take you for a ride and nothing will happen. Nobody can intimidate you, if they see us united. But immediately they see us oscillating and uncertain, they treat us as chickens for dinner. Help is here. APC is here. Hope is here, APC is here. Change is here APC has arrived. We invite you all to join us for the sake of our country.”
General Buhari said since the PDP government had been in the saddle, nothing had improved in the lives of Nigerians.
He added: “That nothing has improved over the years shows the non performance of the ruling PDP. The non performance of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), popularly known as NEPA, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Pension Funds are enough to remove any government in power, except in Nigeria. The PDP government has institutionalised corruption in Nigeria. There is no way Nigeria, with our vast population, vast land can continue to entertain an army of unemployed youths without the resultant effect of kidnapping and Boko Haram. So, the fundamental objective of APC is to secure a hope for Nigerians.
“The attempt for this movement started in 2005. We realised that the ruling party is so amorphous, with none of the opposition parties in critical zones to effect a change. It became absolutely necessary for all the representatives of these parties at the National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly and even the local governments to come together and balance the equation. Another sacrifice began by the parties that have come together.”
Ahmed described Nigeria as “basking in residual superstition”, adding that “we are at the turning point in the history of this country, not forgetting the fact that Nigeria has come of age”.
“Nigeria, like any other developing country, is still basking in the residual superstition. The whole world is being driven in the comity of developed nations, but, unfortunately, every country gets the leadership it deserves. Whoever is leading this country today is a product of our choice. That means we have a choice to move along with the progressive countries or we sit behind.”
Ahmed added that “today, as it is, the APC has formed itself into a strong formidable platform. They are in Kwara on a marketing activity. What makes Kwara unique is simply because we have established structure, formed over a period of four decades of hard work and dedication to the people of Kwara State; selflessly delivered by our late political leader, Dr Olusola Saraki. This has led us into inheriting what we call an election winning machinery. This machinery has been directing every election in the state over the years.
“I want to commend the leadership of the APC. You have come here to share with us your aspirations for Nigeria. You are aware we are still under the leadership of the PDP, which is undergoing serious challenges today and reconciliation is still ongoing. Clear areas of differences are being critically reviewed. We hope that the interest of this country will take precedent over and above any self interest. Be assured that we will always have a common platform for growth and development. In Kwara, we are one party, one family and that is what has kept us together. That will continue to sustain us.
“The same machinery has put in place all the 191 councillors and 16 local government chairmen. The same has put all the members of the House of Assembly and National Assembly in place and it has also put the governor in place. We here in Kwara are one family.
“Dr Bukola Saraki has been carrying the mantle of leadership inherited in a way and manner that has given us… That structure has demonstrated that it can lead us aright. That is why we will join hands with anybody out to maintain the peace, because that is where the strength of our people lies.”
House of Assembly Speaker Razak Atunwa applauded the APC chieftains for having the interest and progress of the nation at heart.
“It is indeed refreshing to see these titans of Nigerian politics from all walks of life, various ethnicities, different age groups, diverse political backgrounds come together to pursue a common goal and development of our dear nation Nigeria. It is crystal clear that what is paramount on your mind is the progress of the nation. Political parties have a final role to play in the democratic existence of our nation. Parties must provide the platform by which people can express themselves.
“Parties must not subject their members to unwarranted persecution. In other words, political parties must have internal democracy. A party that ceases to have internal democracy cannot do this country a world of good. Avoid bad governance, avoid autocratic tendencies and practices. We must resist acts of impunity; we must be tolerant of divergent views. We must see ourselves as one indivisible nation, as people with a common heritage.
“In Kwara State today, that is precisely what we practice. We see ourselves as one people. We see ourselves as our brothers’ keepers. That is why there is great harmony not only in the various parts of government but also between the executive and the legislature.
“However, what is also unique in Kwara is that we have a unique political structure. In the state today, one man commands mother of votes. The one man that will deliver Kwara state in its entirety is Senator Bukola Saraki. “You only need one vote of one Dr Bukola Saraki. Once he speaks’ the entire Kwara has spoken. But I’m particularly, nonetheless, happy to see juggernauts of Nigeria politics here today. “