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‘Buhari should attend to confab recommendations

06 May 2015   |   4:55 am
Executive Secretary of Nigeria National Summit Group (NNSG), Tony Uranta, in this interview with SEYE OLUMIDE, advised President-elect Muhammadu Buhari not to discard the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. Excerpts


Expectations from the President-elect
IT is proper to begin by congratulating General Buhari for having true persistence and doggedness in pursuing the presidency despite his age. But I will not constrict that congratulation to him alone. Another key character is former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who has created a national opposition party.

I don’t know how well wielded together it is, how sustainable it may be, but one thing we cannot write away is that Tinubu has been able to put up a very credible fight and put in a new President in Nigeria and was able to win over nearly all the states that were opposed to the APC before.

Having said that, I think the greatest applause has to necessarily go for the man who many have described as the hero of democracy in Nigeria but whom I want to modestly but in all sincerity acknowledged as the father of the new Nigeria, that is President Goodluck Jonathan.

If Jonathan had not created and allow for the existence of an enabling environment, a free and level playing field, if he had not subscribed to and encouraged freedom of information, freedom of ‎discourse, freedom of association and protest on a level that we have never had in Nigeria, not even in the pre-military era, we would not have a credible opposition.

By his (Jonathan) conceding in time and graciously, and compelling his party (PDP) not to contest the outcome of the presidential election, he did not only created such a first in Nigeria, but has gone into the annals of history as a leading African leader.

Jonathan has created a platform for the restructuring of the country and one of the biggest platforms on which he now created this ethos of restructuring is the platform of the National Conference.

Many of us, who were supportive of the National Conference and its recommendations, have been calling for the implementation of the recommendations of the Conference. If all that General Buhari does were to implement the National Conference’s recommendations, the President-elect would be a hero. But, he has already begun to win my heart by announcing that he will not nominate or appoint anybody into public office who has not sworn to declare his assets in Court, not just to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Let me sidetrack and repeat, I am not a member of any party but I was, and I am, a friend and supporter of President Jonathan. But I am primarily a citizen of this nation that wants Nigeria to improve, and I have the pedigree to prove this beyond any reasonable doubt.
Opposition’s way to the top

Again, I applaud mainly Tinubu. He is a man whom I have had a lot of respect for long before he went into politics and social activism in the ‘90s, Senate and NADECO, even from his fledgling Chicago days as a friend of Otunba Remi Abdul.

I respect his being able to weld together different existing political forces that were seen as existing parties and already held sway in certain regional enclaves in Nigeria.

He welded them together and presented them as a formidable opposition and for the first time since the military took over we had a truly virile national opposition party in Nigeria. Anybody who does not give kudos to Tinubu for that does not know anything about politics.

However, he did not win over Nigerians through the welding together of those enclaves or those parties, he won the hearts of Nigerians by strategically positioning himself in the media both by owning, subscribing to and having controlling interest in many traditional media- radio, Television and Newspapers, while he very calculatedly and assiduously developed and encouraged the new/social media in Nigeria, helping sustain and create new blog owners dotted all over the cyberspace.

We forget that, at the end of the day, it is not just the truth that sets you free, but also the truth that you know and do. He was able to tell us what he wanted us to know. For example, Jonathan was beaten in media space outright long before the election by the APC.

Nobody knew any achievement of the president and we must lay that blame squarely at the feet of his so-called image-makers. They failed him woefully; they are mainly my friends but they failed to market President Jonathan’s remarkable achievements, person and potentials adequately enough to Nigerians and the world.

It is sad that Ifeanyi Ubah’s TAN did better marketing of GEJ in four months than all the President’s men did in four years. Tinubu and the APC managed to market themselves through the media, which as I said he owned, controlled and influenced greatly.

As to the PDP, I will not say that I am totally sorry that it has been rudely shaken awake and is currently being dismembered the way it is, because this will bring those people who are in that party to a realization that the era of ‘business-as-usual’ is for ever gone.

As to being a viable national opposition, we must acknowledge that the PDP does not have the media-power, and may not, on its own, be able to pull itself back together, not with majority of its power-seeking greedy members have jumped ship already. Unless, it can help build up the other parties like Labour Party, SDP, APGA and others, and convince them to come into alliance with it, the PDP is going to end up being a very weak member of the Nigerian political space.

For us to have a virile opposition in Nigeria, a new party or the New PDP must emerge, which must have leadership that is based on certain youth-resonant achievers. I would prefer to see a Donald Duke, an Adeshina, a Peter Obi, an Umar Nasko an Aliyu Indabawa and an Awwal Tukur and their ilk are the type of people that PDP needs today and they should be projected as the face and future of the party.

Voting pattern of South East and South-South
Anybody who thinks that the voting patterns would influence the composition of government as to ethnic or religious biases does not understand what modern nationhood is all about. General Buhari or any leader at the national or state levels cannot but be seen to fully carry along every member of their relevant electorate’s demographics (be they women, youth, elderly, disadvantaged physically, religious, ethnic etc) if they wish this nation well. They cannot say, for example, I am going to restrict governance to members of my party.

General Buhari cannot for example say, I wont have Igbo in my cabinet, he cannot say, I will punish the South-East and the South-South for not voting for me or against me. If he does that, he would have fully played into the hands of his detractors. If he does that he would have laid the foundation for the crumbling of Nigerian unity, peace and progress within less than six months of his coming to power.

But more importantly, no one regional enclave voted exclusively for anybody. Even the Yoruba’s voted across the board and same in the East and South-South. The people who voted for APC in Delta, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu and Anambra were not in a small number.



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