Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, And Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari and eight All Progressives Congress (APC) state governors were yesterday honoured for their faithfulness to the party since the merger in 2014.
This is even as the President has harped on the need for true federalism at this time of Nigeria’s democratic development. He was specifically honoured with an award for his outstanding qualities in leadership. The award was given to the President by the Progressive Governors Forum, which comprises All Progressives Congress (APC) state governors.
The award is said to be a gesture of gratitude for the bailout to states to clear salaries backlog, the release of excess crude support, his help to defer the loans which had prevented governors from meeting their obligations, the release of the Paris Club refund after six years of legal battle as well as the Road Intervention Refund. President Buhari who described the award as a surprise, said it’s an encouragement to continue to do more in moving Nigeria’s democracy to the next level. The president who said he viewed the award as a reflection of the collective commitment of the states and federal government to work harmoniously to find solutions to the developmental challenges facing the country, reiterated his commitment to improving the welfare of the Nigerians. He stressed that it was necessary to build bridges across the divide for the sake of a united, indivisible country.
His words: “We remain committed to improving the welfare of the Nigerian people. Your Excellencies, it will be belabouring the point to say that true federalism is necessary at this juncture of our political and democratic evolution.
“At a time when some few privileged individuals and groups have chosen to exploit and manipulate the ethnic and religious fault for seeking personal and partisan advantage, we need to build bridges across the different divides and instill faith in the unity and indivisibility of one Nigeria.”
He acknowledged the APC governors’ contributions to the political, economic, social and cultural development of Nigeria, adding that economic growth and competitiveness of nations depended on the harmonious collaboration of all the tiers of government, particularly in a federal set-up like ours.
“I call on the state governments to be a strong pillar of support for our anti-corruption agenda, as well as continued support for our programmes of social protection, school feeding programme and other policies geared towards human capital development,” he said. Going forward, we must all work towards building a socially cohesive society in which the resources of the country work for all. We will continue to apply public funds in such a way that no section of the country or segment of the population suffers social exclusion.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that the presentation of a leadership award to President Muhammadu Buhari by governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is an endorsement of failure.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the award as the height of deception, noting that it is another failed image laundering effort by the Presidency. It stated that the Presidency and the ruling party have chosen to engage in endless celebrations in the fortress of the presidential villa, while Nigerians are left at the mercies of bandits, kidnappers, and insurgents in their homes and workplaces.
“It is totally disgraceful that Mr. President’s handlers could conjure such scandalous whitewashing project to gloat on Nigerians at a time they (Nigerians) are extremely hurting over the prevalent economic hardship, hunger, disappointments, failures and humongous corruption, that have become the hallmark of the Buhari administration,” the statement added.