KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE AT THE CONFERENCE OF THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC), HOUSE OF LORDS, UNITED KINGDOM ON 26 OCTOBER, 2018
DELIVERED BY THE SECRETARY TO THE STATE GOVT, DR FOLASHADE ARIKE
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Buharists. Greetings from the Great People of Kogi State and from everyone back home in Nigeria.
I do not intend to go deeply into arguments about the merits or otherwise of Democracy as a form of government. It is a given, I believe, to everyone in my audience that imperfect and imbued with the capacity to be frustratingly inadequate sometimes, democracy remains the most versatile form of government and the most suited to our modern, diverse, culture.
Suffice it to say that Democracy is alive and well in Nigeria. The Fourth Republic which began in 1999 when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party was sworn in for his first term is going strong today under President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The only difference is that our great Party, the APC, is doing a lot of things differently as the Governing Party from the pernicious ways of the PDP in the 16 years they held sway. Our country could certainly have done better during the last 3½ years, but there is no doubt that she has fared better under the APC than she did at any time under our predecessors.
I am aware my last sentence will draw raided eyebrows, but fear not, I shall dedicate the rest of this address to justifying the last sentence with easily identifiable proofs.
I also do not intend to explore deeply the abstracts of elections and electioneering in Nigeria since that would require a whole paper in itself. I will just summarise by saying that under the APC, elections in Nigeria have improved in process and performance. Of course, elections are deemed to be free and fair when the APC loses and compromised when we win, but that comes with the terrain.
I am glad that this is a gathering of APC members who I presume are committed supporters of our party and of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. If that is so, we can take it for granted that we are automatic believers in 3 things which encapsulate the WHERE, the WHY and the WHOM in the efforts of the APC to provide good governance to Nigeria.
One, we BELIEVE in Nigeria. Two, we BELIEVE that Nigeria has infinite potentials to be Great. Three, we BELIEVE that at this point in history and given the characters who have emerged as credible opposition, President Muhammadu Buhari remains the best person to continue leading Nigeria towards Greatness.
Belief in Nigeria means you love the country and truly want the best for her. Belief in her potential for greatness means you are ready for the sacrifices of nation-building. Belief in Mr. President means you still have absolute confidence in him as the best leader for our nation till 2023 at least.
These three great beliefs are vital if our commitment to confront the odds and win in 2019 is to remain unshaken. It is only when you believe Nigeria worth fighting for that you can commit whatever it takes to make sure she does not fall again into the hands of the PDP or a similar swarm of locusts.
The APC that is going into the 2019 General Elections is radically different from the APC which won the 2015 Presidential Elections. Our party has been through a steep learning curve and the lessons have been difficult, even painful, in many instances.
Fair-weather friends who came for the good times have left, disappointed by Mr. President’s insistence on personal integrity, fiscal prudence, equality before the law, national security, party discipline, international dignity and a single-minded war on corruption.
We are charged with telling the story of this Administration from now till victory is gained in 2019. The immediate task before us is to convince the masses that everything Mr. President has done is for our overall benefit.
We are to console our people with the good news that the planting season is over and the bumper harvest is now waving in the wind. We are to appeal to their patience with the process, and point out the signs of the good times ripening ahead already.
We cannot do that effectively unless we believe it ourselves. We cannot believe it unless we have critically evaluated the proof that is all around. We cannot be convincing unless we are first convinced ourselves.
I will now proceed to reel out some of Mr. President’s attainments in his 3 years and 5 months in office which indicate the hope that lies ahead. My intention is to remind us of these freely available facts and figures in order to further strengthen our personal resolves, while arming us for issue-based politicking.
Key Attainments for Nigerians under President Buhari:
1. NNPC’s Daily Cost of Production has dropped 72% from $580,000.00 per day to $164,000.00.
2. There was no dedicated social safety net for the poorest of us, but Mr President has implemented a sweeping Social Investment Programme (SIP) which has provided succour for at least 10.3million vulnerable citizens.
3. Rice importation has dropped from 644,000 tons per annum to about 20,000 tons now, indicating growth in local production.
4. Power Generation has surged from about 4000 megawatts after 16 years of the PDP to over 7000 megawatts in 31/2 years of the APC.
5. Nigeria has gone from non-completion of any rail projects between 1999 and 2015 to completion of 3 major lines from 2015 to 2018 (Abuja to Kaduna, Abuja Metro, Itakpe to Warri).
6. In security, we have gone from 14 LGAs held by Boko Haram insurgents in 2015 to zero today. The relative return of peace and stability to the war-torn North East has enabled millions of internally displaced citizens to return home in safety.
7. Terrorism-related deaths have dropped 80% in the same period while attacks on communities by herdsmen have been contained to sudden and irregular ambushes which are quickly quelled.
8. We entered the recession which Madame Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala foresaw long ago and tried to warn the PDP against. Instead of heeding the financial guru’s warning, the PDP hierarchy taught her that ‘Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous’.
9. Of course they blamed President Muhammadu Buhari who was less than one year old in office when the recession hit, but the lion-hearted gentleman soldiered on and guided us out of the recession in one year or less.
10. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in one of her reports entitled ‘STRONG BY DESIGN’ insists that nations overcome recessions faster if they have built strong balance sheets and have substantial foreign reserves – the exact two things Mr. President accomplished for Nigeria.
11. The Nigerian economy has grown rapidly since then and we now have $47billion in our foreign reserves, up from the paltry $29.13billion dollars Mr. President inherited.
12. The World Bank Group also made it official this month: Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, not by the econometrics of rebasing, but in real terms.
13. Mr. President has cut waste, limited at least 50,000 ghost workers from the Federal Workforce and maximized savings.
14. Mr. President has reduced theft in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government to the point that JAMB which used to remit about N50m before remitted N7bn without increase in fees charged to students.
15. Nigeria Customs Service has beaten all previous remittance records, as has many other revenue generating MDAs.
16. A company linked to the PDP flag-bearer was forced to remit N13.2billion in previously stolen revenue to the Nigerian Ports Authority simply by elevating national interest above the personal or partisan.
17. Before Mr. President took over the helms, Nigeria had 6 fertilizer blending plants wasting away at about 10% production capacity. Today they are running at 100% and producing fertilizer blends for our Agricultural Renaissance.
18. The PDP years were generally characterized by low capital investment on infrastructure. Today, the story is different as Mr. President has invested in excess of N7.2trillion on infrastructure – the highest ever in our history, and at a time when revenues were generally poor and a recession was on.
I could go on and on, but our Igbo brethren who do business have a saying I have found to be true: ‘A good product sells itself’. Mr President is a very good product indeed, and his competencies are desperately needed for the Progress of this nation, but we need to go out there and sell him to the people.
Public Relations professionals will tell you that at some point, having a good product without excellent advertising is like winking in the dark – you know what you are doing, but no one else does.
Perception is reality when it comes to politics and campaigning. Perception management is therefore critical in times like this.
We must market the incredible accomplishments of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and of his Administration to every voter – and in the language he or she understands.
If we fail, the adverse narratives aggressively put out by the PDP and other propaganda machines will ]dominate the land and shape perceptions.
If those of us in APC do not sell this winning product very well –
• economic recovery will be mistaken for slow-down due to poor
management of the nation’s economy;
• measures to protect local industries and stimulate domestic production will be mistaken for deliberate impoverishment of the populace via high prices of essential commodities;
• borrowing for rapid infrastructural development will be mistaken for unwarranted or misapplied debt;
• a tough and progressive victory against a terrorist threat which continues to cost the nation the lives of her brave military and law enforcement personnel will be mistaken for inaction;
• a difficult fight against old and new forms of insecurity which is designed to neutralize security threats across all parts of the nation without criminalizing whole tribes or populations will be mistaken for victimization of some and condonation of others;
• trial of politically exposed offenders using long existent laws which previous leaders were not willing to deploy against cronies and accomplices will be mistaken for extrajudicial measures and disdain for the Rule of Law;
• Social safety nets for the poor under the various Social Investment Programmes and payment of long outstanding obligations to unjustly treated segments of our citizenry will be mistaken for bribery of the populace or vote buying tricks.
If we fail to take charge of the narrative and persuade people till they see the true intents of this Administration’s policies, we will have a much harder job mobilizing the votes we need to get Mr. President re-elected.
If we do not put President’s achievements before our people till they can recite it themselves, they may agree with the shameless PDP that the heartless corruption which she is offering again is somehow better than the alleged ‘incompetence’ of the APC which has accomplished every good thing I listed above.
In summary, the APC believes that good governance goes beyond the wildly popular ‘stomach infrastructure’. We must have a multidimensional approach to poverty reduction if we are to build enduring socioeconomic growth and prosperity. Sometimes, the gains of such an approach takes a while to show.
It is our duty as members and supporters of the APC in general and of Mr. President in particular, to unbundle our party’s methodology and explain the components to skeptics and non-believers.
All may be lost if we do not get the Nigerian people to see why they must allow Mr. President continue his great work as they go to the polls in 2019. It is our task to explain the APC’s modus operandi to our respective constituencies.
The APC is offering greater inclusiveness for all Nigerians irrespective of tribes and voting patterns.
The APC will pay better attention to affirmative action – women, youth and those with special abilities in appointive positions.
The APC will respect the unspoken but gentlemanly rotational presidential pattern between North and South which most Nigerians defended in 2015.
The APC is promising to continue re-writing the agelong negatives which have plagued our nation to positives.
This is the message we must all take to every nook and cranny of this nation, and from door to door.
On the other hand, all the crooked PDP is offering Nigerians is ‘Corruption is better than Incompetence’ and ‘Anybody but Buhari’.
People of APC, with such a predictable manifesto, I say the PDP has made our job in 2019 and beyond easy, assuming we are ready to work hard.
My brothers and sisters, 2015 was about Change. 2019 is about Progress.
As members of the APC, we will not deny that the 2019 General Elections will not be a walkover, the PDP will not be a pushover and we MUST take nothing and no one for granted. Our party has a huge task before her.
Considering that the 2019 General Elections are now a straight contest between the APC and her closest challenger, the PDP, let me challenge us that Democracy, fair and credible elections as well as the good governance being institutionalized in Nigeria under the APC will come to naught if we cannot defeat the PDP in 2019.
If we fail so simple a task, may be we all have no business calling ourselves influencers and politicians.
However, we trust the Almighty God that we will not fail.
Congratulations on FEBUHARI 2019!
Thank you very much.
Governor of Kogi State
*As read on His Excellency’s behalf by the Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Mrs. Folashade Arike Ayoade*, Ph.D.