Gyang Bere, Jos
Six months after President Muhammadu Buhari and State Governors took oath of office after the 2019 general elections, the state Chief Executives under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have carried out peer review of party performance in the 19 APC states. The whole idea is to ensure governors of the ruling party meets the expectations of Nigerians ahead of 2023 general elections.
The review which was anchored on “strengthening public service delivery” organised by the Progressives Governors Forum in Jos, Plateau State was centred on key critical sectors of the economy including Transport, Health, Education, Humanitarian and Disaster Management.
Daily Sun gathered after the exit of the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole from the parley, the APC governors in a close door session, held a brief discussion on political issues bothering the party and how to recover more states in future elections.
The governors underscored the performance of the party during the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states which culminated to the overwhelming victory of Governor Yahaya Bello and David Lyon. With the victories in the two states, the number of APC states swelled to 20 in the country.
Buhari challenged the governors not to take their re-election for granted and insisted that there should be no room for excuses on the ground of not meeting the high expectations of Nigerians.
His desire, he said was for governors elected on the platform of the APC to lead with shining examples and justify the confidence Nigerians reposed in the APC by queuing behind the party during the 2019 general elections.
To many, Buhari’s body language during the first tenure suggested that he was not deeply satisfied with some governors who collected huge resources as a result of the Federal Government’s bail-out but couldn’t put such fund into proper use to ameliorate hardship among the citizens.
Buhari, who was represented by Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha solicited the collaboration of the state governors to finding solutions to the develompental challenges facing the country.
“I am happy to be here to declare open, this important parley between the Federal Government and the Progressive Governors Forum which aims at strengthening our public service delivery.
“I view this parley as a reflection of the collective commitment and determination of the Federal and State Governments to work harmoniously towards finding solutions to the develompental challenges facing the country.
“Early in 2019, Nigerians overwhelmingly re-elected me as their President. That election was a referendum on not just my leadership but also on our party. Some states governors were re-elected while new ones also came on board.
“To whom much is given, much more is expected. It is therefore incumbent on us to meet the expectations of our teeming population. There should be no room for excuses and that is where the outcome of this parley becomes very critical.”
Buhari, who placed anti-corruption as a major focus of his administration, challenged the APC governors to give the battle total support and replicate it in their respective states despite the fact that the gain of collaborating in the fight against the scourge has continued to face the danger of annihilation.
“I call on the state governments to double their support in the anti-corruption battle. 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 will suffer social exclusion.”
The National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, believed that President Muhammadu Buhari has truly upheld and put into practice the manifesto of the APC which is evident in the manifestation of the fruits of democracy.
He confessed to the fact that some party loyalists had wished the President to be more partisan in piloting the affairs of the country but he has refused to yield to such advice and decided to carry every section of the nation along.
“Sometimes, some of us feel the President should be more partisan but he said since he has been elected, he is a father of all, he was elected on the platform of APC to govern the entire country and not just APC states and that is the difference between the sitting President and his predecessors.”
Oshionhole described Governor Simon Lalong as Governor alert for his consistency in the payment of salaries since 2015, and peace Governor for deliberate steps taken to end the killings in his state, thereby enthroning peace in the state.
“When the people of Plateau call you Governor alert, I want to say that Governor Lalong is also Mr. Peace because the governor has refused to lament insecurity and not to continue on blame game but he has handled things in a different way; that is why we have peace in Plateau.”
Oshiomhole pleaded with all APC governors to implement the N30 ,000 minimum wage and the consequential adjustments made as that will compel the opposition governors to key into the payment.
“I appeal to the Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, I believe that the governors should work hand in hand with the APC as a party. I believe if we work together, the party will be deeply institutionalised and people will continue to appreciate it.
“With all the challenges we face, we must be focused on education, because the long term basis for peace and security and energised economy that fight unemployment and poverty requires our people to be equiped in a smart world, that is ICT-driven and I believe APC governors are making a difference by showing more interest and giving more practical expression to a functional, quality education.
“As Progressives governors, let us be the first to pay not only the new National Minimum wage. There are some progressive governors who have taken steps towards addressing that, we should do that so that when other governors are fighting whether to pay or not to pay, Nigerians will say the progressive governors have paid. I believe if there is a will, there will be a way.
“We should start thinking Nigeria and Nigeria first at the centre of our regional policy, and at the centre of our Continental policy, there have to be Nigeria before we can support any other nation.
“We should support the closure of the border, we have no regret about it until our neighbours recognise the needs to follow those protocols and to know that nation states are not used as dumping point for goods that are deadly to be smuggled into Nigeria.”
Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Alh. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu said governors and the Federal Government have enjoyed cordial working relationship where the President has ordered for several interventions, particularly on the recent flood disaster, insecurity and bail-out given to states for payment of salaries.
“As parts of the President’s appreciation of working with states, there are a number of initiatives that have been put in place to carry along the state governors and one of such is the zero oil initiative which has given opportunity for states without oil to explore what they are endowed with.
“In the last flood, the Federal Government spent over N23 billion to states that were affected, including Plateau State; and spent N8 billion supporting states that were affected by insecurity among several other interventions.”
Plateau State Governor and Chairman of Northern Governor’s Forum, Simon Lalong said despite the challenges facing the country, the APC has recorded tremendous progress in reshaping the economy, rebuilding infrastructure, creating jobs and improving security of lives and property.
“We must admit that there is still more work to be done considering the level of decay we inherited in our various states. That is why we have commended Mr. President for leading the way in the determination to deliver change and take Nigeria to the next level.
“We cannot talk about Strengthening Public Service Delivery without discussing the issues of accountability and prudent deployment of resources. This is where we need to learn from each other on how to generate more funds and judiciously deploy them devoid of corruption, mismanagement and extravagance.
“The parley should provide more insights on how we have fared so far in our synergy with the Federal Government through the Universal Basic Education, National Social Investment Programme, Humanitarian crises Management, and the National Primary Healthcare Strategy among other programmes that the APC-led Federal Government has rolled out.”
The parley was attended by eight Governors including Governor Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti; Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi; Godwin Obaseki, Edo; Alh. Abdullahi Sani Bello, Nasarawa; Nasiru El-Rufai, Kaduna; Mohammed Badaru, Jigawa and Governor Simon Lalong, Plateau. Kogi and Gombe states’ governors were represented by their deputies while other states sent in different representatives.