The All Progressives Congress unveiled its manifesto and code of ethics for members at a grand occasion attended by prominent party members who took turn to lambast the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Abuja on Thursday, March 6
| By Vincent Nzemeke | Mar. 17, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
THE Nigerian political scene witnessed the opening of a new chapter on Thursday, March 6 as the leading opposition party, All Progressive Congress, APC, held its maiden national summit and formally unveiled its manifesto and code of ethics that will guide its and members.
The event opened with an emotional rendition of the Nigeria’s national anthem by Tiwa Savage, award winning songstress, while the opening remarks was given by Babatunde Fashola, governor of Lagos State, one of the states controlled by the party.
Fashola in his address boasted that the APC was making history as the first party in the country to unveil an actual plan of what it hopes to achieve to the people. He added that contrary to norm, APC chose to unveil its plan at a formal event instead of doing so at a campaign rally. Fashola said the code of ethics in intended to guide and help every member of the party to maintain high level of discipline at all times.
After his speech, a short documentary of how the party was formed was aired. In the documentary, leaders of now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Political Change, CPC, and All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, spoke about how they sacrificed their individual ambitions for the birth of a strong opposition party.
Thereafter, was the first panel discussion of the summit. The panel which comprised of leaders and members of the party in various states turned out to be an interesting discussion as panellists took turn to enunciate their reasons for joining the APC. According to them, Nigeria was in dire need of change and the APC is the only party capable of offering that change. The panellists also expressed their readiness to wrestle power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2015.
Muhammadu Buhari, a former head of state and one of the leading figures of the party, said opposition party members had realised that unless they came together, PDP would isolate them and destroy them one after another. “We need to come together to put good governance and leadership to manage the huge resources of Nigeria,” he said.
Audu Ogbe, another panellist and founding member of the party, said the party had gone beyond its early days of counting wrongs and was now prepared to assess and think of a way out of the problems caused by the ruling party. “The three major problems facing the country are; economy, number two, economy and number three, economy. The APC is on a mission to rescue Nigeria from its present economic woes. A country where a phd holder is applying to be become Dangote’s driver, where there is a serious youth unemployment, the APC has to change all these,” he said.
Bukola Saraki, a serving senator and one of the former members of the PDP who joined the APC in November 2013, accused the ruling party of being dictatorial. He said: “What we have in PDP today is civilian dictator. There must be an alternative and APC is the only alternative. Nigeria has disappointed the human race despite its resources, the only alternative is change. Hospitals have been abandoned in search of better once in the white man’s land. If Nelson Mandela was a Nigerian, he would have been flown abroad for treatment, but he died in his country. There is need for change.”
Saraki’s sentiment was echoed by Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president on the platform of the PDP, also took a swipe at the ruling party, accusing it of undermining oppositions. He argued that the PDP had stayed in power for so long and should not be allowed to continue in 2015. He added that the continuous stay of the PDP in power would breed civilian dictatorship. “If opposition party could defeat incumbents in Ghana and Senegal, it should be made to happen in Nigeria in 2015. If they can do it in Ghana we can do it here, if they can do it in Senegal why not here?” Abubakar asked.
Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and the APC stalwart, assured Nigerians that the party would work to unite the country the more. He said the APC represents a renewal of hope for the Nigerian youths, making more provisions for their education and following it up instead of abandoning them to suffer. According to Tinubu, the APC right from the beginning had come with a promise to reconcile, reconstruct and build up the broken walls damaged by the PDP.
On his part, Ali-Modu Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State, cautioned the APC to follow the path of progress. “We want to form a party that will stand the test of time. The APC is sitting as one to chart the way forward, but the party will not stand if certain things are not properly done,” he warned.
Chris Ngige, a former governor of Anambra State who was also on the panel, said: “APC is the only party in the north today. In the Northern Nigeria the APC is all over the place. The APC is a party on a mission to change Nigeria from its dilapidated infrastructure, we will create functional educational sector.”
After another brief break, the roadmap of the party was formally unveiled. In the roadmap, the party promised to address the problems of youth unemployment, insecurity and corruption.
In its mission statement, the APC said it was committed to a Nigeria that would achieve its full potential and promise. The party said it would work to make the nation economically and socially vibrant, peaceful, just and secure. Apart from that, the party said it was committed to preserve the Nigerian people as the nation’s greatest asset. The party similarly expressed a commitment to build a country bound by the principle of freedom, justice, peace, unity and the rule of law.
However, as members of the party were busy congratulating each other of the newly unveiled roadmap, the PDP was critical of the APC’s manifesto. In a statement signed by Olisa Metuh, publicity secretary of the PDP, the party described the APC’s manifesto as a document lacking in character, depth and addressing no issue. Metuh said the manifesto ranked the security of lives and property low and gave no clue of the APC’s preparedness to tackle terrorism which had become a major challenge in the country.
“When last year in its first official outing, the leaders of the APC said terrorism in Nigeria would disappear within 100 days of the APC leadership, Nigerians did ask if they knew the characters in crime and their sponsors. The APC gave silence as an answer while Nigerians kept wondering. Today, the party has released its manifesto with loud silence on the matter so that Nigerians would not raise further questions on the face behind the terrorism mask,” the statement said.
Taking the APC on the task of job creation and war on corruption which the party projected as cardinal on its manifesto, the PDP said the APC neither had plans for job creation nor showed the strength of character to fight corruption more than the ruling party. “The PDP created anti corruption agencies – the ICPC, the EFCC – and established the Freedom of Information Act to further give teeth to the war on graft. The PDP led federal government has also shown no preferences in its battle on corruption as senior party leaders as well relations have at one time or another been made to face the law on charges of corruption,” the statement said further.
Besides, the PDP accused the APC leaders of being the grand patrons of corruption and alleged that it was only in the South-West, the APC states, that a kilometre of road was awarded at N1 billion in a topography that could not be compared to the marshy South-South.
Nevertheless, the APC well-attended summit attracted prominent members of the party as well as those sympathetic to its cause. Some of the sympathisers at the summit were Pat Utomi, a professor of political economy and Obi Ezekwesili, former minister of education in the PDP government.