Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has harped on the need for President Muhammadu Buhari the leadership of the National Assembly to work together to tackle the crippling poverty in the country.
The former labour leader, who briefed State House correspondents after a meeting of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, yesterday, said recreating the middle class was the sure way to ensuring a stable and peaceful polity.
He said they were at the villa to brief the president, as leader of the party, detail expenditure on what benefited what, how the party financed the exercise and the results achieved.
At the meeting, he said several issues, including the policy direction of the government in the next four years and what needed to be done to rescue millions of Nigerians out of poverty, were discussed.
“Our party must be seen to be pro-poor, putting policies in place that will lift our people out of poverty and recreate the Nigeria middle class. Unless you recreate the Nigeria middle class, you are not going to have a stable and a peaceful society.
“The tragedy for now is that over the period people are either very poor or they are very rich. The president has to provide leadership working with the National Assembly leadership to see how we can over the next four years deliver, so that the current situation of extremely poor and extremely rich will is bridged by recreating the middle class,” he said.
He spoke just as President Buhari promised to be more conscious of the interests of his party in taking key decisions in his final term in office.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said Buhari pledged to uphold party supremacy even as he commended Oshiomhole and other members for their sacrifices and overall success in the last general elections in the country.
“It is obvious that the success of the party was more paramount in your hearts. You could have deployed the times and energy you deployed for the party for your own personal use.
“I respect the sacrifices you’re making; you can only derive satisfaction if you’re working for your country and all our people because, materially, nobody can pay you for the sacrifices.”
President Buhari also appealed to the NWC members to abide by the constitution of the party, adding: “It is not enough to just criticise certain decisions of the party without first understanding what the constitution says.”
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole has condemned the RevolutionNow protests, describing it as ironic that the leader of the movement who was part of the 2019 polls wanted to forcefully change the government after being rejected by Nigerians.
He said although he is in support of the fact that Nigerians have the right to protest, they must properly articulate their grievances before embarking on protests.
Oshiomhole, who recalled his days as a labour leader when they protested against anti-people policies of a former president, said the intention was never to push him out of power through undemocratic means unlike Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) and convener of the Global Coalition for Security and Democracy.
Asked to react to government’s clamp down on people who also wanted to exercise their freedom of the right to protest, Oshiomhole said: “What was the reason for protest? Let’s be honest; I have led series of protest even to this villa. Whoever wants to protest should articulate the particulars of his grievances and make specific demands about the solutions that he wants. So, what exactly, as far as you know as members of the fourth Estate of the Realm, that Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, a presidential candidate, cleared by INEC to bid for power, who had opportunity to ask Nigerians to vote for him, now that Nigerians have voted, the votes have been counted and he was not a favoured candidate, what does he want now? That Nigerians must make him the president?
“Because we all have to be careful, nobody should talk as if we have another country. We have challenges but somehow we have all resolved as a people that the way to power is in the ballot box. Our task as a people is to continue to work to clean up the system so that only Nigerians alone shall determine who governs them at all levels. That I believe is a legitimate thing to fight for. But if you want to overthrow, you want a revolution then he should have spared us the INEC putting him on the ballot paper.
“I don’t want to talk about this but I believe Nigerians have a right to protest, I believe people have a right to contest issues, people have the right to disagree. I have often said government doesn’t have the right to dictate to people how to protest, but you must state exactly what you want.
“Go and check the dictionary and political meaning of a revolution. If it comes, it will be like the Christmas turkey, nobody knows, which one will be slaughtered first on Christmas.
“I think we do need to take things seriously, we have serious issues in this country, I have my own reservations about many things but we have submitted to this process and we must work hard to make it work.
“…There is no question that we have challenges but I don’t not think of you were an American, British, Ghanaian or even a Nigerian, you were about to set up a farm or a factory and you hear that a revolution is in the making, in which country do you hear that? You go to any country including established democracies and say your business is to create revolution…
“Have you monitored what is happening in France, that yellow jacket people, who were organising those protests? Initially, when they were organising those protests they were asking for labour reforms that President Macron introduced but from there they went into something else, you must have seen on your television how the French authorities dealt with that.
“I think we have to be clear. I am a believer that the rights to protest is a fundamental human rights but it does not include the right to suggest that you want to overthrow a constituted order. No, there is a difference.”