Jonathan pledges to revive micro-credit sector, decries godfatherism
•APC hails U.S. over call for non-violent polls
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday promised to revive the micro- credit sector of the economy if he wins the February 14, 2015 election.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has reiterated its position against any attempt by the Federal Government to postpone the February elections or efforts to set up a interim government, as currently being suggested by those it described as cronies of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the same vein, the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) has lauded United States (U.S) call for free and fair election and non-violent in the general elections in the country next month.
Addressing a mammoth crowd at Metropolitan Square, Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, Jonathan in continuation of his campaign, said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had been briefed on how it would assist the government fine-tune the effective take-off and implementation of the scheme.
He said that it would benefit mostly versatile agrarian economy noting that with the growing rate of the nation’s economic sector, the micro-credit programme would be modelled after the Asian economy.
Among those who were at the rally were the President ’s wife, Patience, the PDP’s National Chairman, Adamu Muazu, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President, David Mark, National Chairman Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation, Ahmadu Ali and his deputy, Saminu Turaki.
Jonathan said: “Kwarans like many other Nigerians are very hard working people and if you give them enabling environment, they will go places. Therefore, our agricultural programmes will make millionaires out of many of you. We had contacted the CBN, in the area of provisions of the agricultural micro finances for our youth.
“The Asian Tiger made it through this concept and they created wealth for themselves. Therefore work with us we will take you to where you rightly belong. We have great respect for you, because you are peace-loving people. Besides, this state has produced great Islamic and Christian leaders even, political leaders of note.”
The president who described freedom of speech as a great value of democracy, said that having signed the Freedom of Information(FOB) Bill, he would ensure all within his constitutional powers that no state of the federation was ruled by despotic politician under the guise of god fatherism.
For him: “Kwarans should live a life of freedom. You should not be caged by a few individuals as if you are living in a zoo. Nigeria is a sovereign state governed by the constitution and convention. You should therefore be free from the hands of the political leaders who intimidate you.
“If the recent growth in our economy is attested to today by reputable institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and CNN, then who is the one calling himself an economic expert in Nigeria, faulting the international experts assessment? Don’t be deceived vote for us again and vote for Senator Simeon Ajibola as your next governor.”
Earlier, Sambo said that the nation was generating about 2,000 megawatts when the Jonathan administration came to power, but noting that at present the nation generates about 4,500 megawatts.
Besides, he said that the nation could only boast of about 6,000kilometres “well-tarred kilometres of road network, adding: “Jonathan administration has made it 20,000 kilometres of good road network. In addition, about 3,000 of railway system is at present operational.”
The PDP National Chairman, in his remarks, believed that Jonathan remained one of the best presidents of Nigeria citing the establishment of 14 federal universities out of which 10 are based in the north and four in the south,” within a period of four years he started the works.”
Muazu, who sees the agricultural revolution of the PDP as one that would take Nigeria away from its mono economic policy of over dependence on petroleum products, disclosed how Jonathan’s administration had succeeded in smashing the fertiliser and herbicides syndicates in the nation’s agricultural sector.
In his remarks, Mark who lauded the electoral reforms of Jonathan’s government, urged, “those who intend to rig elections against us in order for them to come to power by force” to jettison the idea as the PDP would resist such anti democratic moves.
Ali, while eulogising the attributes of the late political titan of Kwara State, Dr. Olusola Saraki, said that the politician in his lifetime was a loyal member of the PDP. He, however, regretted: “Those he handed over power to” decamped due to their alleged selfish interests and not the interest of the good people of Kwara State.
He believed that only people in their 40s, 50s and early 60s should aspire to lead Nigeria, like advanced world democracies like America and Britain, and not old people with fossilised ideas.
Turaki also praised Jonathan for holding the original version of his certificates and not “a certified version”, adding that only such person “who does not lie about his identity” should be allowed to rule Nigeria.
Earlier, the Chairman Organising Committee of the Campaign Team in Kwara State, Dele Belgore (SAN) welcomed the president to Kwara “on behalf of the people of Kwara State, adding: “We know the president appreciated the last welcome as he once said to my hearing. “Kwara is yours, President, as this huge crowd clearly shows. Kwara is the only state with two governors. One is merely occupying the seat and has no powers, while the other one exercises all the powers.
“This is a state where the Commonwealth of the many is enjoyed only by a few. Kwara is ready to liberate themselves, Mr. President. We will vote for PDP, starting with the President, National Assembly and our governorship candidate. As our party chairman said the last time he was in Kwara, PDP is Kwara and Kwara is PDP. Mr. Kwara, welcome again to Kwara.”
Addressing the media in Lagos yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed said that in spite of this,
“we have noted with dismay that the Jonathan’s administration has continued to pursue the plot to shift the elections.
According to him: “That plot in itself is one of the two-pronged approach being pursued by the administration to either shift or scuttle the elections, which are scheduled for February 14 and 28.
“The other is the campaign for an interim government. It is important to state here that for the APC as a party, both options represent the devil’s alternative and are totally, absolutely unacceptable to us under any circumstance.”
He added that when President Goodluck Jonathan met with U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry on Sunday in Lagos, “the President said he told the visiting U.S. top diplomat that the May 29 handover date is sacrosanct.”
According to Mohammed: “We say this is not reassuring enough and that for us, the February 14 and 28 dates for the elections are as sacrosanct as the handover date of May 29. Therefore, we are more assured by the call made by Kerry, that the elections should be held on time as scheduled. Nothing short of that will be acceptable to our party.
“We are also satisfied with the assurance by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it is ready for the elections. The electoral body has also said it will continue with PVC distribution until the eve of the elections. Therefore, the orchestrated campaign about INEC not being ready for the elections is sheer baloney!”
He continued: “Now, make no mistakes about it, we are aware of the limitless capacity of the PDP and the Jonathan Administration for anti-democratic and desperate actions in pursuit of selfish motives that have nothing to do with the interest of the good people of Nigeria. We are aware of the clandestine moves, including reaching out to various interest groups and hiring talking heads to make the television rounds, being made by the administration to get the elections shifted.”
The APC’s spokesman noted that the Jonathan’s administration’s apologists are hiding under the facade that millions of Nigerians will be disenfranchised if the elections should proceed as scheduled
“again, they are using the terrorist attacks in some parts of the North to advance their election shift argument. We sincerely hope the recent escalation of the Boko Haram attacks, and the siege on Maiduguri on Sunday, a day after President Jonathan campaigned in the city, are not connected to this sophistry. All in all, these arguments in support of election postponement are a smokescreen. The truth is that the forthcoming elections terrify the PDP and the Jonathan Administration to such an extent that they are looking for ways to postpone or scuttle the polls.
According to him: “If indeed the Jonathan Administration is genuinely concerned that many Nigerians have not received their PVC’s, let it declare a three-day public holiday to give working Nigerians the opportunity to collect their PVC’s. Let the government work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the PVC’s are distributed at the polling units. If these steps were followed, within five days, the distribution would have been completed.”
He stated the stance of the APC as regarding next month’s general elections as follows:
•APC is ready for the elections, and under no circumstance will we accept a postponement. For us, the February 14 and 28 are as sacrosanct as May 29, the handover date. The government has had four years to prepare, and the dates for the elections were announced over a year ago, therefore there is no going back now.
•We note that the PDP has also said it is ready for the polls. That is good news. Let them now end their clandestine push for either postponement or the formation of an interim government, stop engaging in scare and scandal mongering and dwell on issues, ahead of the polls.
• We are satisfied with the assurances by INEC that it is ready for the polls, and we call on the Jonathan Administration to give the electoral body all the support and resources it requires to organise successful elections.
• Any postponement of the election will mean that INEC is not independent and that it is being dictated to by the federal government, a position that will hurt the credibility of the electoral umpire.
• Finally, any postponement on the basis of the insurgency in the Northeast will represent a victory for the terrorist group Boko Haram, and will create a constitutional logjam that will take Nigeria back to 1993.
Believe me, we have traveled that route before and it was not pleasant.
In a statement by the Director, Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu of the APCPCO, the campaign said that it fully identified with Secretary of State John Kerry’s appeal to political parties to ensure free and fair and non-violent polls.
According to Shehu, all responsible politicians should support the objectives of free, fair and non-violent polls as advocated by the U.S. government.
The statement, however, appealed to the Jonathan-led administration to show commitment to free, fair elections and non-violent.
Shehu also called on other members of the international community to show active interest in the attitude of the PDP administration to these issues of non-violent and free and fair elections.
He explained that the U.S. and other members of the international community should not leave the Jonathan Administration to its devices or whims and caprices, adding that the government must be held to these commitments to avoid any hanky-panky during the elections.
On the U.S. threat to deny Visa to politicians that engage in electoral violence and malpractices, the APC Campaign said that it fully endorsed the measure to serve as deterrence and give credibility to Nigeria’s democracy and electoral system.