Speech by National Chairman of African People’s Congress (APC), Chief Onyinye Ikeagwuonu at its Launch in Abuja
For over a decade now, Nigerians have entrusted their political fortunes largely in the hands of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and other politicians who have shown a resounding emptiness of character, clearly unfit for any kind of leadership.
The PDP, ACN, ANPP,CPC etc has taken Nigeria on a journey to nowhere; taken our country on a political expedition without any road map or action plan. Since 1999, all we have to show for their political dominance is purposeless and rudderless leadership that has added little or no value to the lives and welfare of the average Nigerian. The collective achievements of these contraptions called PDP, ACN, and ANPP can best be likened to the dance of the penguins – one step forward, two steps backward – and the woes of our country continue to evolve from bad to worse.
Overseas, our public image has hit an all time low, corruption has become a way of life for public officers, and not even the hitherto sacred judiciary is above board. The stench is polluting the society, hamstringing developmental efforts and discouraging any substantial foreign investment in the country.
Government policies are made for personal, group or clique interests, with the implications that hitherto viable investments that thrived on our soils have closed shop and moved over to perceived weaker, poorer and smaller economies in the West African sub-region.
We are totally a consumer society and no longer produce what we need to sustain ourselves. We import much more than we export. We are selling off our assets and taking on massive debts to sustain a standard of living we can no longer afford.
Much in the same way we have policy deficits, our budgets are perennially in deficit, with our economy gradually showing irrefutable signs of recession.
We do not have big thinkers running our states, but just good talkers who are largely bent on experimenting with their ignorance.
The PDP,ACN,CPC,ANPP etc has remorselessly squandered the goodwill of Nigerians, ‘fiddling while the nation burns’. While infrastructure suffers in the states, with the economy of the states wound round monthly allocations and diverted council funds, the governors of the PDP shuttle across the globe in private jets that further diminish the resources of their states, leaving the people to bear the brunt. As a matter of urgent national importance, we urge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to immediately commence investigation into the source of fund used to purchase the private jets by these public officers.
Apart from Lagos, where Fashola has shown some aptitude for work, other ACN states are mere shadow states and ghost towns where their Chief Executives are just sounding off while still groping in the dark, years after being elected into office. The ANPP and the CPC from inception had both remained experimental stocks serving the interests of their self-styled leaders and flag-bearers. We are all witnesses to the mockery of governance in Imo state and Anambra state under the APGA led government. While Imo state has repeatedly and brazenly voiced its utter disregard to the rule of law and due process, running the state like a personal estate much the same way Anambra state, has been run for nearly eight years without elected council leadership thereby reducing the councils to a docile appendage of the state governments.
If we should spare a thought for the merger comedy that has played out in our country recently, the merger is simply an amalgam of people that ‘MUST’ rule; largely part of the same over-recycled crop of power-mongers that have plagued Nigeria with their abysmal misrule and maladministration. Within their pantheon, you have the human rights abusers, crass dictators, the private jet-setters who flew commercial before assumption of office; those with unfinished businesses at the Code of Conduct Bureau and those still standing trial for alleged scams in the FCT. Add their total disregard for internal democracy and due process to this mix and you get a picture of an alliance of political desperadoes that have become so used to the public till, they cannot imagine being out of office for one dispensation. They pay all the bills and call all the shots without the least consultation because in their own political ideology, the democratic process can be bought and sold. That is the profile of the merger godfathers and it tells the story of Nigeria’s political woes.
The corruption in these parties often rub off on their legislators in the National Assembly, with clear reflection on the quality of legislation churned out from our hallowed chambers. For goodness sake why would a legislator demand fund for constituency project? Funds that simply translate to ‘pocket money’ for these lawmakers. Our constitution provides that the job of our NASS members is strictly to make good laws and at no time did the constitution define them as building contractors to negotiate constituency projects. After all, there is a governor in their various states that receives federal allocation for infrastructural development in the state. Against this backdrop, the APC calls for an urgent review of the salaries and allowances of the members of the National Assembly to conform to the present economic realities so they can better appreciate the economic plight of ordinary Nigerians.
All the more, like the decadence of the political players we have called leaders for so long, there is no sector of the economy spared from this systemic rot; from the aviation to the maritime; from the security agencies to the regulatory agencies; from the legislature to the judiciary; our foreign policy is clearly undefined and citizen-support is non-existence. Sometimes, we wonder if the PDP government in the centre, the ACN in the Southwest, APGA in the Southeast, ANPP and CPC in the North are guided by any policy master plan whatsoever. Hence the steady devaluation of governance goes on unimpeded .
So far, there is no sign of remedy in the horizon. It therefore makes expedient, the unveiling of a people’s alternative that understands the plight of the citizenry and has a work plan for intervention. A platform that would restore hope and rally the plundered states of Nigeria to a common goal of national rebirth. Nigeria needs a new political formation that would bear the torch and lead the nation out of the woods. From Lagos to Ogbomosho; from Ikot Ekpene to Abuja; from Sokoto to Kaduna and from Enugu to Owerri, for over four decades, it has been the same old story of sadistic and unconscionable recycling of the same political elements that have evidently run out of ideas on how to fix Nigeria. At best, they have created in themselves, individuals that place themselves way and above the country, while destroying institutions of state which are the core essence of government, upon which society thrives.
These over-recycled forces are totally spent and without equivocation, Nigeria needs an infusion of fresh ideas, purpose-driven policies and a new generation of inspired leaders. Nigeria cannot keep doing the same thing and still expect change. We have to change the way we live and we can only achieve that by changing the way we are led. And to change the way we are led calls for a new political order that is a total departure from the “meal tickets” of today we call political parties.
We therefore seek to entrench a system that is centred on the people; to reclaim our crumbling institutions and failing nation; to give Nigerians reason to believe again. After years of planning and strategizing, having fulfilled all prescribed Administrative, Constitutional/Legal requirements for registration with full acknowledgements, it is with a sense responsibility that we unveil: THE APC: AFRICAN PEOPLE’S CONGRESS.
Today, Nigerians now have a party they can be proud of. A party committed to rebuilding Nigeria. We of the APC team after our many years of meeting, negotiation, consultation etc present to you today the following evidences of our hard work and commitment to rebuild Nigeria, WE PROUDLY AND HAPPILY AFTER SUCESFUULY FILLING AND FULFILLING THE REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTRATION AS STIPULATED IN THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION AND THE ELECTORAL ACT, WE UNVEIL THE HISTORIC APC PARTY TODAY AND PRESEN TO YOU ALL HERE AND NIGERIANS IN GENERAL:THE APC LOGO, THE APC FLAG, THE APC CONSTITUTION, THE APC MANIFESTO, THE APC SLOGAN,THE APC MEMBERSHIP CARD, THE APC NATIONAL OFFICERS,THE EVIDENCE OF APC FUFILLMENT FOR REGISTRATION AS A POLITICAL PARTY ETC.
Our policy plans are cut and dried; purposeful and concise.
The AFRICAN PEOPLE’S CONGRESS exist to build and safeguard a free, fair and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.
We believe that people should be involved in running their communities. As such, we are determined to strengthen the democratic process and ensure that there is a just and representative system of government with effective Parliamentary institutions, freedom of information, decisions taken at the lowest practicable level and a fair voting system for all elections. We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely, and we will protect the rights of citizens to enjoy privacy in their own lives and homes. We believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from the people. We therefore acknowledge their right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and commit ourselves to the promotion of a democratic federal framework within which as much power as feasible is exercised by the nation. We similarly commit ourselves to the promotion of a flourishing system of democratic local government in which decisions are taken and services delivered at the most local level which is viable.
Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fighting poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services. Setting aside national sovereignty when necessary, we will work with other countries especially African countries and other World Powers towards an equitable and peaceful international order and a durable system of common security. Within the African community we affirm the values of federalism, democracy and integration and work for unity based on these principles. We will contribute to the process of peace and disarmament, the elimination of world poverty and the collective safeguarding of democracy by playing a full and constructive role in international organizations which share similar aims and objectives. These are the conditions of liberty and social justice which is the responsibility of each citizen and the duty of the state to protect and enlarge.
Summary of some APC points of action:
There is no country in the world that has made the transition from a poor and underdeveloped country to a rich developed country without industrialization. The new era that we must enter now has to embrace industrialization across the key sectors of our economy. Through industrialization we can significantly transform our agriculture, information and communication technology and knowledge-based industries
No country in the world has become food secure by using traditional hoes, cutlasses and depending solely on rain-fed agriculture. We must make the shift to mechanized agriculture and irrigation watered agriculture for all-year farming. We must also make an urgent departure from subsistent agriculture to large scale commercial agriculture with a view to attaining self-sufficiency in food production; agro-industrialization; infrastructural development for storage, processing and marketing agro-produce.
For these, a National Irrigation Schemes shall be provided; small-scale dams rather than large dams shall be constructed to avoid displacing small-scale farmers. Communities shall be aided by Government matching grants to construct dams to provide irrigated water for all-year-round agriculture. In supplementing our protein needs, Aqua-culture shall form the cornerstone of protein improvement programme.
Actually, the APC has a comprehensive and to a large extent, radical intervention plans for the extractive industry, transportation and communication with emphasis on the overhauling of the air transport system, re-establishing the national carrier to be private sector-operated, incorporating global best safety practises.
The Party will invest in the rail component of the urban Mass Transit System ; and will not only continue with the process of revamping the railways but would also make funds available for purchasing of new rolling stocks and refurbishing of existing ones. Major agricultural and industrial parts of the country hitherto not reached by rail lines shall be effectively linked for ease of access and transportation of persons, goods and services.
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, may I crave your indulgence to put in perspective a few issues of misrepresentation being bandied around by the merger group, apparently occasioned by some form of inexplicable ignorance.
With desperation that blinds objectivity, the Coalition of three political parties has flung at us as many allegations and fraudulent assertions as they could lay their hands on, even on matters as straight forward as basic constitutional requirement for registration of political parties.
1. They said we did not apply to INEC for registration:
First and foremost, we applied to INEC through a lawyer, whose services we retained and our letter was duly submitted to INEC. Subsequent to that, we got a reply from INEC stipulating requirements and preconditions for registration (Display letter).
2. They said we have not paid a kobo of the processing fee to INEC, the precondition for processing an application:
Contrary to the hallucinations of the Merger group, within the period we paid the N1million administrative and processing fee stipulated by the Commission. (Display receipts).
3. They said we are faceless:
Actually, we would have engaged them long ago, but we had work to do! And since they found it more rewarding idling away on the pages of newspaper, we let them enjoy their sports while we pursued an aspiration we had held so dear and close for the greater part of two years now. Today we have submitted the long list of requirements as prescribed by INEC and have completed the constitutional demand on us for registration as a political party. Accordingly, INEC has duly acknowledged our submission and this is the INEC endorsed letter to that effect (Display).
So ladies and gentlemen, we can now get down to specifics:
Has the Merger group submitted any application or registration material to INEC? The answer is NO!
Does the noisy grandstanding and in the words of Lai Mohammed, ‘constructive knowledge’ or public knowledge of the Merger group translate to application or advancing registration materials to INEC? The answer is NO!
Can a party which has shown a total lack of capacity in taking care of the least basic responsibility in the process; for a political association that seeks registration be taken serious beyond their worth in the news stands?
And the answer is NO!
If the Merger Group was sincere in the quest for an alternative platform for Nigerians, they should have settled down to build it. But ofcourse, they cannot because they are used to BUYING IT! Now their frustration has found the usual outlet in name-calling and wolf-calls; all of which amounts to unproductive brinkmanship that does not and can never translate to registration of a political party.
We wish to remind you that when the Merger group claimed and announced our Acronym ‘APC’ for their party, we were compelled to react but an emergency meeting of the party was all that it took to come to terms with reality. And we reasoned: The Merger group has all the funds and connections to fast track their registration at our detriment, and with their unlimited media space, justify such action no matter how loud we protested. We had no legal claim to the acronym.
And that is the message we have for all those that feel threatened by our emergence: No one has any legal claim to an acronym without fulfilling the stipulated constitutional procedures and requirements!
As a party we want the APC to be our bridge to the future, shedding our infatuation with the past
TODAY, WE CALLED YOU ALL HERE TO INFORM YOU OF OUR COMPLETION OF THE REQUIRED CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL PROCESS FOR REGISTRATION OF A POLITICAL PARTY. AS YOU ARE ALREADY AWARE WE HAVE OFFICIALLY OPENED OUR NATIONAL HQRS FROM WHERE,WE ARE ADDRESSING YOU TODAY. WE HAVE OFFICIALLY FILLED OUR APPLICATION AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 78 OF THE ELECTORAL ACT IN THE FORM OF FORM PA.1 (SHOW COPY). WE HAVE EQUALLY PAID ALL THE PROCESING FEES FOR REGISTRATION, PROVIDED OUR NATIONAL OFFICE AND OFFICERS, PRODUCED OUR MANIFESTO,OUR CONSTITUTION,OUR LOGO,FLAG,EMBLEM ETC,COPIES OF WHICH WE HAVE MADE AVAILABLE TO YOU GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS.NOW THE FACTS SPEAKS FOR ITSELF.WE ARE WAITING TO BE ISSUED OUR CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION IN THE COMING DAYS BY INEC IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE ELECTORAL ACT.
We have a firm resolve to fast-track the reform of the education sector. There is no precedent in history, where a country has made the transition to a rich and modern society without a critical mass of the population becoming qualitatively literate and numerate. The Far East countries that are now the models we want to emulate in our Vision 20:2020 have made sure that transition to high school is over 95% in the last 45 years or so. We can make it happen with relevant and qualitative intervention in our education sector and providing wider latitude for technical education.
Even more, we shall accelerate the resolution of problems and challenges in our education sector, including providing opportunities to young people out of school to access the necessary training and retraining opportunities for a new industrial economy.
This is so because the APC views education as a cardinal social objective that must be pursued vigorously by the state. It is an important social instrument for national enlightenment and unity amongst the diverse peoples of Nigeria.
In conformity with the provisions of the Constitution the APC shall pursue a foreign policy of mutual co-existence through bilateral and multilateral agreements. APC government shall observe international conventions and obligations of regional and international organizations of which Nigeria is signatory to.
While focusing on Africa and the third World as the center piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy, the APC government would resist imperial re-colonialism, discrimination and all forms of undue external interference.
We shall deploy the politics and economic instrument of diplomacy as our standard foreign policy strategy.
We shall vigorously pursue our brand of Citizenship Diplomacy that is centred solely on protecting the interest of Nigerian citizens wherever they may be around the world.
Suffice it to say that an APC-led federal government would not sit to negotiate bilateral relations with any nation where as much as one Nigerian citizen is abused or unjustly deprived, until such anomaly is redressed.
Details of our policy plan are contained in our manifesto, however, be assured that we are clear about the points of action and areas of action we seek to pursue. And indeed, we will take action – not just talk.
And like Margaret Mead most succinctly put it, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
So fellow Nigerians, and especially young Nigerians, this is the time to take charge of our destiny. We bring you the people’s alternative, the future of Nigeria and the future of Africa. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you… your party… the APC, AFRICAN PEOPLE’S CONGRESS.
Thank you all and God bless!
CHIEF (HON) ONYINYE. M IKEAGWUONU (JP)
PROTEM NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF APC (AFRICAN PEOPLE’S CONGRESS)
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