The national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Thursday, said that the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling APC winning the 2019 elections will depend on how well the current government can handle some critical issues affecting the nation before the polls next year.
The APC chieftain noted in Abuja that the impediment to the victory of APC in 2019 is big but not insurmountable.
While the APC chieftain listed the challenges that will likely draw back smooth sail for Buhari in 2019, the president himself has assured that he is committed to conducting a free and fair election in 2019 with the results acceptable to all who may participate in the poll.
However, former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, has warned that Nigeria’s democracy will be tested in 2019 mainly if President Buhari will be willing to accept defeat if and when he loses the election.
Lamido also told Tinubu that his stay in APC no longer have value and should therefore dump the ruling party for the PDP, arguing that, as a progressive, he (Tinubu) should no longer relate with a party like APC.
The opinions of the trio were made public at the yearly Daily Trust Newspapers dialogue held in Abuja with the theme, ‘Nigeria and the Challenges of 2019’.
Tinubu, represented by his former Finance Commissioner in Lagos State, Wale Edun, warned that 2019 elections definitely will “not return to games being played by a well-heeled elite while the rest of the nation is left to struggle and starve.”
The former Lagos governor acknowledged that despite some of the achievements recorded by the present administration, the issue of subsidy regime, Fulani/farmers frequent clashes, unemployment and pension arrears must be tackled as they pose great impediments to electoral victory for the APC come 2019.
“As a progressive, I believe we must transform the nation by embarking on deep and impactful reforms, by creating more jobs, providing social policy initiatives and building an infrastructure befitting a leading nation.
“Social services must become a reality close at hand and not a vague dream lying in the distance.
“For example, we must reform the current fuel subsidy regime. At this stage it causes more problems than it cures. Bottlenecks of long fuel queues, erratic supply, resultant economic dislocations for consumers from lack of fuel and the corrupt practices of insiders undermine the good intentions upon which the subsidy is based.
“Currently, the subsidy does not benefit the average person. It sweetly profits the elite who manipulate the programme to their own advantage.
“We need to allow market forces to more directly determine price. We need to open the now closed market to more suppliers. In this way, we may better harmonise supply and demand, where they do the most sustainable economic good.
“In addition, we must repair our social safety net. Old people who have given so much to the nation are being shortchanged and forced to live in penury when they should be living in dignity due their advanced years and their former labours”.
President Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, assured Nigerians of his willingness to conduct free and fair elections come 2019.
The president also said there was a need to sustain efforts at building confidence in the country’s democratic institutions, especially judiciary and the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He called on gladiators in the political setting to play the game according to the rule.
“I also call on politicians and political parties to pledge their commitment to peaceful democratic process by urging their supporters to respect the electoral process and refrain from violence. All aggrieved parties should seek redress through constitutional means and respect for the rule of law.
“On our part I want to assure Nigerians that my administration will not condone any action, support any individual or group that undermine citizens confidence in the country’s political institutions to conduct peaceful and successful elections”, the president said.
However, Sule Lamido in his speech right in the presence of Mustapha, who represented the president, said emphatically that the coming 2019 general election will be defined “by what APC is all about.”
While describing APC as a party without history, he added that the ruling party won 2015 general elections on “lies and propaganda.”
Asking Tinubu to decamp from the APC, the former governor said Tinubu can only reintegrate himself as a democrat when he leaves the APC.
“Tell Asiwaju that his brother and friend says he is in a wrong party. He will only recover and reintegrate himself as a democrat if he leaves the APC.
“Buhari never attended any meeting of former heads of state while Yar’Adua was president. But he was the first person to arrive the meeting after Yar’Adua’s death.
“APC won in 2015 by creating disaffection among families. In Gusau, they went from house to house flogging PDP members.
“APC is telling us what government should do after three years in power. APC should tell us what they failed to do.
“They call Nigerians wailing wailers for complaining. Thankfully, wailing will be over in 2019.
“APC members have joined the wailing wailers. Buhari is wailing. His wife wailing. Sagay is wailing, Akande is wailing, everybody is wailing”, he said.
Challenging the integrity of the president as 2019 elections draw nearer, he said, “I hope APC and Muhammadu Buhari would have the honour to concede in 2019 when Nigerians vote them out, just the same way Goodluck Jonathan and PDP did in 2015?”
Lamido, who described APC as a coalition of desperate politicians, also said that the ruling party was “fantastic in telling lies.”
Meanwhile, Shehu Sani, senator representing Kaduna Central, Thursday, described the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as a reluctant party with many contradictions within its fold.
He also described the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as a timid opposition that has failed in playing its roles.
The senator, who queried the ideology of the two biggest political parties in the country, said the only difference between the PDP and APC is in the name.
According to him, different people formed the PDP in order to drive military out of power in 1999 and that APC was also formed to drive former President Goodluck Jonathan out of power in 2015.
Sanni, who accused Nigerian leaders of insensitivity to ending the wanton killing in the country, called for massive but peaceful protest to awaken the conscience of the leaders.
Sani said rather than taking proactive and decisive steps towards addressing the nation’s problems, political office holders are busy strategising for re-election in 2019.
Delivering his lecture at a programme in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the senator who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts, said the country was experiencing tension ahead of 2019 because politicians are desperate for spoils of office and not concerned about the welfare of the electorate.
He said, “All is not well with this country. This is the wrong time to shed blood in Nigeria. If you think that people in power will stop the problem in the country, you are in for a fool’s ride. The attention of people is how to win elections and not how they can end senseless killings and bloodshed.
“It would require a mass, peaceful march in the streets from Nigerians to recharge the conscience of people in power.
“Nigerians are dying in hundreds and in thousands and some people felt what is important is INEC timetable, when is elections and when is primaries.
“It is difficult to hear any public office holder speak the truth because of political calculations. Anybody who says we are not in crisis now is deceiving himself.
“We are only differentiated by names. The PDP came into existence because there is a need to have a national party that will take over from the military. The APC came into power to de-establish the PDP and drive Jonathan out of power and in the process, we have all sorts of people.
“When I see some of my colleagues trying to come into our party, I ask them: have you find out how those of us in the party are faring? Most of you will end up from Syria to Afghanistan. All is not well with this country.”
The senator urged the media to rise up to the challenges of solving the nation’s problems by providing platforms to call leaders to account and enlighten the populace about their rights.
“We have come a long way to establish this democracy and we must not let this democracy die because some people died to enthrone this democracy. People should be elected based on their individual qualities.”
Joe Okei-Odumakin, who is the President of Women Arise for Change Initiative, said the inability to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crimes to book continued to embolden them.
In her lecture, Okei-Odumakin said the proposed cattle colonies will continue to aggravate crisis between herdsmen and farmers as well as indigenes and settlers.
She declared that establishment of ranches was the only way towards addressing the persistent clashes in the country.
The activist expressed dismay over the failure of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to tackle insecurity and violent clashes head on, saying public officers must be alive to their responsibilities.
The duo spoke at a national conference organised by the Freelance and Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (FIBAN).
The event is themed ‘Politics, Media and National Integration – Before 2019 Nigeria’.