The Text of The World Press Conference
By His Excellency Senator Jim Nwobodo
Presidential Flagbearer of
United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP)

The National Chairman of our great Party, The Vice Presidential Candidate, Vice Chairmen and Principal Officers of our Party, Distinguished Members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm. Welcome.

Brian Mac Arthur brought together the words of over hundred men and women – from Moses to Mandela – who helped to change the world through the sheer power of their oratory.

In his preface to Abraham Lincoln’s speech, “Government of the people by the people, for the people” he had this to say – Lincoln spoke 270 words in about three minutes, interrupted by applause five times, and made the greatest and noblest speech of modern times.

It is the speech most often quoted, most frequently recorded (recently by Margaret Thatcher and General Norman Schwarzkopf) and which remains the subject of scholarly inquiry.

So, what is its secret? That was the question President John Kennedy asked his speech writer, Theodore Sorensen when he was preparing his inaugural speech in 1960. Sorensen’s answer was that Lincoln used short words, sober language as well as his own political experience. It was drafted and redrafted – right up to the morning of 19th November, 1863 Lincoln added the words ‘under GOD’ as he spoke.

“Fellow country men – four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. .. that this nation under GOD, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

When a people in exercise of their franchise collectively decide to mandate a select group of individuals with responsibilities of determining and thinking for their collective welfare, sanity, sovereignty and infrastructural developments, I believe that the least they expect from those entrusted with such sacred mandate is respect, not arrogance, food, not poverty, sanity, not crises, confidence, not uncertainties, cohesive nationhood, not divisiveness, gainful employment, not crippling unemployment, wealth creation, not depletion of resources etc. A leader should reflect and understand where his people are hurting. He should interact with them at every level to sense when things are going wrong. The buck stops at his table and he should be accountable to his people for how he has fared so far in the 4 year mandate he has been given. It is abdication of responsibility for any leader to attribute the non execution of his mandate to people whom he appointed to minister to the people. When a leader keeps a blind eye while his lieutenants cart away the resources meant for the general development of the people, he is equally culpable, and should not be entrusted with such responsibility again. When a leader cannot lay a foundation for sincerity, honesty, transparency, social and economic emancipation, national cohesiveness, sound individual and national sanity, wealth creation, and inspiration of confidence in the led, then he has squandered his term and wasted precious years in the life of a nation. It is only an uncaring leader who even though he has not performed up to 20% in any sector at all, yet would regard himself as a messiah. Such a person is a ruler, not a leader and is yet to understand his job description in the first place.

Unfortunately, this is the lot that we have under the current President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government. His approach to governance is imposition of siege and brutal destruction of the peoples’ psyche. When a man cannot elevate his nation to a position of honour and prosperity, he has no basis whatsoever to seek re-election. A leadership that cannot lay foundation for true nationalism and patriotism must be adjudged irrelevant and anachronistic. In fact, the final test of a leader is that he nurtures in the minds of the led, such virtues as national pride, conviction and the will to carry on in the spirit of a people with one destiny.

A leader knows where he wants to take his people to and how he wants to take them there. The problem so far is that we are afraid to define where we are and who we are. We do not lack the human resources to tell us how to be there. After all, when J.F. Kennedy set the goal of landing an American on the moon, that statement alone mobilized all concerned to work.

Perhaps as a Nigerian, I should ask you today: Are you happy with the state of things in this country for the past 4 years? Are you happy with the state of insecurity in the country? Are you happy with the level of poverty? Are you satisfied with the level of unemployment? Are you comfortable with the level of corruption, dishonesty and insincerity? Are you content with the dying economy? Are you satisfied with the inflation or interest rate or industrial growth in Nigeria? What improvements have we recorded in the health sector, education, power, roads, agriculture, manufacturing in the last four years? The truth is that we have a near system collapse. The President’s regales Nigerians with economic statistics that embarrass the world. While he says the annual growth rate is 3%, the World Bank , UNDP, DFID etc., say it is shrinking and less than 1.5%. When he says that inflation is 14%, the records of the international finance institutions indicate that the inflation rate is almost 25%. When he says that manufacturing capacity utilization is 45%, they say it is less than 25%. Of course, do we need controversy over these statistics? To find out how we are doing economically, go to the nearest market. For example in 1999 a bottle of coke cost N20, today it is N40; in 1999 a bag of rice cost N1,850, today it is N4,300; before 1999, a tuber of yam was below N100, today, it is over N200, and so it is for other food items such as garri, beans, etc. Is that a healthy economy? In 1985-1992, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth average was 7%; by 1996-1999; it was 3.5%; in 2003 it is 1.9%. Although, the per capita income increased nominally but what is the value of naira to dollar? In 1999 the dollar was N100 but today the dollar is N140! What this means is that the inflation and exchange rates have wiped out any gains from the per capita increase.

The growth rate in the agricultural sector from 1999-2003 is less than 0.5%. The industrial growth declined by 2.5% excluding the petroleum sub sector. The price of crude oil has increased from $16 per barrel in 1999 to almost $40 per barrel in 2003. Yet we are told we don’t have money to implement the year 2002 budget. Why was it that most Federal Ministries had zero percent capital allocation in 2002? Yet they are saying the civil servants are redundant. What do you expect poor people to do?. Our true economic indices are there in the World Bank office and the economic verdict for Nigeria in 1999-2003 is economic systems collapse.

The social indicators are frightening. Every country’s Human Development Index (HDI) is measured by the well being of its citizens. It is sometimes gauged by the level of income and the accumulation of savings which will enhance its capacity to create additional wealth. Provision of gainful employment and economic opportunities make it possible for our people to have the basic necessities of life, provided wage levels are realistic and domestic price level reasonably stable. When these factors are combined with relative access of the people to social infrastructures such as health care, education and public utilities, the result is improvement in the quality of human life. However, how many Nigerians can boast of operating an increased saving account since 1999? Not the civil servants because there is no way anyone who earns N20,000 a month under the crunching inflation, can use it to feed a family of 6, pay rent, transportation and health bills, take care of extended family, etc., because the purchasing power of the Naira is very low.

Since the economy is not growing, unemployment has hit Nigeria in a way that it has never been before. In 1997 the rate of unemployment was 6.8% i.e., urban 5.2% and rural 8.5%. In 1999 unemployment was 7.5% i.e., 6.5% urban and 9.5% rural. Nigeria turns out about 550,000 graduates from its 149 tertiary institutions every year. Not up to 10% of this number secure gainful employment. Already in 2003, unemployment has hit the roof top with more than 20 million Nigerians without any gainful employment. Of the total unemployed Nigerians, 70% are relatively unskilled primary and secondary school leavers who are between the ages of 13-25 years. Also, the crime rate increased by 20% in the last 4 years and general insecurity to life and property by 52%. When you compare the rate of unemployment, crime and insecurity with the poverty level, you begin to see why we cannot attract foreign investments to Nigeria.

The human development report ranks Nigeria’s poverty as 151 out of 174 countries and amongst the poorest 25 countries of the world. Poverty is the most serious problem in Nigeria today, yet rather than confront it drastically the government of the day is romanticising with it through a fundamentally flawed scheme like ‘keke NAPEP’. An international report once said “any country whose rural poverty exceeds 70% and urban poverty 65%, such country can never be free from social unrest, unstable democracy, escalated armed robbery, diseases and death. The poverty in Nigeria is therefore very endemic.

Ladies and Gentlemen, are Nigerians healthier than what we were before 1999? Life expectancy in Nigeria today is 50 years compared to 57 for Ghana and 64 for Indonesia. In the year 2000 health expenditure per capita in Nigeria was less than $8.00 much lower than the $14.0 for Ghana and $16.0 for Kenya. Nigeria’s per capita power consumption of 92k which is only one third of Indonesia’s and one quarter of Ghana’s. In telecommunication, thanks to GSM facilities, the number of telephone lines have improved. However, Nigeria needs ten fold improvement of the current level to match that of South Africa, or Brazil or Mexico. It is doubtful if this would happen because the GSM operations have been bedevilled by a high tariff regime. This is as a result of what the operators say is government’s inability to create the infrastructural backbone in areas such as interconnectivity and power supply, factors that would reduce the high expenditure of running the GSM network.

In the transport sector such as accessible roads, railway and air traffic, in relation to South Africa and such other comparable developing countries, Nigeria is severely lagging behind and this present Administration has no capacity to cope with. What type of giant are we then in Africa if we do not have better figures for education, power supply, infrastructural development etc? Domestically, how many federal projects were commissioned in the last four years vis-à-vis those from the states, yet the federal government has the morality to bully and vilify the state governments. If states are rated 40% in performance, the federal government should be rated below 20%.

Our nation has indeed been traumatised. Nigeria has become a reproach to its neighbours. There must therefore be a positive change. If we leave the present situation as it is in the hands of the incumbent, Nigeria will be wasting another four years of its national life. The incumbent has wasted nearly four already, not counting the three years he wasted during the military era. Why should any one therefore be talking about continuity for the sake of democracy? The incumbent is not an embodiment of democracy! In fact if there is anything he has done in the past three years plus, it is to destroy the democratic institutions. For four years he wasted precious time fighting the National Assembly. It must be pointed out that the first incidence of corruption under this dispensation occurred when our President ostensibly to determine the leadership of the National Assembly, distributed the “legendary” “Ghana-Must-Go” bags to bribe the conscience of the legislators. After that action or was it auction, it was fait accompli for the rest of the elected or appointed officials across the strata of public office. Thenceforth, it became business as usual because the leader had set the immoral tone.

What continuity are we then talking about – continuing with failures – continuing with destruction of our hard earned democracy – continuing with monumental corruption and grand chicanery, continuing with ineptitude and inefficiency - that will be the costliest mistake Nigerians will ever make. If we make this mistake, our children and indeed generations yet unborn will rise up and declare us irresponsible.

Perhaps if the incumbent had governed this country with compassion, purposefulness, integrity, selflessness and fear of GOD, none of us would be interested in asking for change. Rather, he has squandered and wasted nearly four years of our nationhood. If we allow him to stay, what we are witnessing today will be a child’s play to what we will see in the next four years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have lived in this country long enough to realise that Nigeria’s major problem is not lack of resources. In fact, we embarrass the world that we belong to the 25 poorest nations in the world. For example, if Ghana and Togo are asking for debt forgiveness, I cannot see why our President spends over one year junketing from one world capital to the other begging and wasting our meagre resources to solicit the same debt forgiveness when he knows for sure that those nations are aware of Nigeria’s resource profile. Those countries he visited simply turned a blind eye to his request because they were saying as it were, “go home, sit down, manage your resources prudently and you will not be a beggar any longer.” All we need is discipline, structure, honesty, transparency, blockage of waste pipes and we will recover in no time. Unfortunately, he does not understand that language.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nigeria has more abundant natural resources than any country in black Africa; Nigeria has more developed human resources than most nations of the world; we also have a talent for ingenuity and industry. We have abundance of natural, financial and human resources. You all know the statistics but our problem has been bad governance. Nations all over the world know this and that is why they are looking forward to Nigeria’s next election and this time around we must not disappoint the world.

What We Offer
The United Nigeria Peoples Party hereby offers the best alternative of rebuilding Nigeria. We offer an abiding contract with our people. My running mate and I as the Presidential flag bearer of our great party, seek your mandate because we believe that we have creative ideas that will usher in a positive change in every sphere of our life. It is in this regard that we hereby present our cardinal programmes aimed at bringing about better life for all Nigerians.

Security and Public Safety
The negative impact of the problem of insecurity both on the psyche of the Nigerian person and the prospect of foreign investment cannot be overstated. Security of life and property in Nigeria will therefore be accorded top priority by the UNPP government. We will focus attention more on crime detection and prevention. We will reengineer the Nigerian Police and make them more professional. We will adequately equip the police with sophiscated weapons, communication gadgets, crowd control machinery and vehicular needs. To discourage abuse, road blocks will be dismantled and replaced with police road patrol while police on such patrols will be motivated with operational allowances.

Our administration will place emphasis on the welfare of the Nigerian Police Force in terms of improved salaries and emoluments. Working with the financial sector, our administration shall also raise fund in the capital market to set up additional housing units (Police barracks) to alleviate the housing problems of the Police.

Police re-orientation programmes will be organized for every Police Officer in conjunction with Police Departments of advanced countries with a track record of security achievements. This programme will be complemented with continuous training programmes for the provision of the appropriate skill needed for carrying out policing responsibilities. These trainings will assist the Force in responding effectively to crimes.

The current conditions of under-policing will also be significantly tackled. Efforts will be made towards achieving a police to public ratio of at least 1:1000 by increasing the size of the force. Same attention will be paid to the other security agencies including the armed forces.

Revamping Our Economy
Our programme on revamping the economy will aim at diversifing areas of wealth creation especially agriculture, indusrialisation and solid minerals while not neglecting the oil and gas sector.

We shall place high premium on agriculture because we believe that the potentials there are enormous. To boost agriculture, our government will significantly increase the capital budget for agriculture in terms of research, procurement of improved seedlings, pesticide, fertilizer and building of harvest and storage facilities. We will implement an import tax exemption regime on all agricultural capital goods. Also the environment will be created for credit agricultural financing of mechanized agriculture at low interest rates. We will promote a bill on agricultural land reclamation authority to create more farming lands for farmers complete with infrastructure such as roads, water for irrigation and electricity. Also fish farming will be encouraged through a deliberate policy of cleaning up polluted water in the Niger Delta. We will seek improved seedling and stock produce. In conjunction with both local and international agric research institutes, our farmers will be provided with shorter gestation genetically enhanced seedlings and stock for improved bumper harvest.

The agric sector will also form the backbone of our policy on industrialization. We have a master plan to encourage the setting up of small and medium scale industries that would utilize the bumper agricultural yields anticipated from the large scale mechanized farming. We understand that there is dormant fund lying with the Central Bank which consists of a 5% pre-tax profit of financial institutions devoted to financing small|medium scale industries. We intend to make the newly created Bank of Industry to manage this fund and grant soft loans to people wishing to establish agro allied industries. We will reach out mainly to youths and other interested people including retiring civil servants wishing to go into high yielding self employment ventures and avail them of such financing. By so doing, we intend to grow at least a hundred thousand small scale industries utilizing agricultural raw material base. We would mobilize these industries to meet local consumption demands and drive exportation in such products as frozen chicken, meat and fish, fruit drinks, biscuits, cocoa, rubber, palm oil, cotton, soya bean based commodities, etc. It should be noted that our emphasis on agriculture and agro allied industries is based on our belief that agriculture forms the bedrock for solid wealth creation. We would devote maximum attention to these sectors and would mobilize and motivate Nigerians to embrace this vision.

Solid Minerals:
There are abundant solid mineral deposits in several areas of our country. We will encourage private sector exploitation of these resources through the liberalising of mining licenses and initial tax reliefs.

Oil and Gas Sector:
Oil and gas remain today the mainstay of our economy. While we will move to diversify, we would equally not neglect this sector. The UNPP government will introduce absolute transparency in all tiers of this sector especially in the sale of crude oil and other joint venture activities of the NNPC. More transparent and competitive private sector participation will be galvanized in both the up-stream and down stream sectors of the petroleum industry.

We will discourage fuel importation, rather, private sector operators interested in refining petroleum products will be given license and incentives to open up more refineries. Existing ones will be challenged to operate on commercial profit basis. If there arises a compelling need to privatize existing refineries, all stakeholders in the industry will be taken into confidence and their interests adequately protected.

An enabling environment will be provided for the continuation of oil prospecting in the North while efforts will be made to finally stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta. Our Government will be deeply concerned about protecting the environment of oil producing communities and waters. Our continued membership of OPEC will be predicated on the advancement of our national interests. Our government would demand that OPEC pays greater special interest in Nigeria when it is considered that the country has the lowest per capita income among all the OPEC member countries. In this wise, the need for OPEC to grant Nigeria reasonable increase in the alloted daily production quota becomes inevitable.

Poverty Alleviation
I wish to state that our government’s poverty alleviation programme will be closely tied to agriculture and skills acquisition. We will establish a From School Back to Land programme. The programme would encourage the acquisition of skills mainly related to agriculture in our post primary schools. This deliberate policy on skills acquisition would see secondary school leavers graduating with necessary skills that would position them to go into mechanised farming. Such skills in animal husbandry, farming techniques, agric extension service, tractor driving, fish farming would form the pivot for introducing mechanised farming combines for our unemployed and other interested youths who may equally be graduates of tertiary institutions. These self sustaining farming combines will be set up in every local government area in the country with an initial capital take-off grant provided by the government.

Other priority areas of skills acquisition will be in Information Technology (software development and hardware maintenance), carpentry, welding, tailoring and design, photography, etc. This programme on poverty alleviation although initially targeted at secondary school leavers and school drop outs, will be an all inclusive programme engineered from the primary school level through secondary and university levels. It will be developed in tandem with the notion that when you teach somebody to fish, the person acquires self sustaining trade as against just giving him a fish to satiate his hunger.

Infrastructural Development
The UNPP government will encourage private sector participation in the provision of infrastructure. Such areas as road construction and maintenance, and power supply will begin to witness greater private sector participation. Multinational in oil and gas industry, road construction, the banking sector and other heavy industries would be encouraged to diversify into turn-key projects as road construction and maintenance and in the provision of independent power supply. The companies that engage in such social infrastructure service will enjoy significant tax relief both in their operations and associated import duties for required machinery. Those that build trunk A roads will own and maintain the roads for an agreed period, during which time, they will be authorized to charge and collect tolls on them. The agreement will be subject to renegotiation and renewal after the initial period. Those that engage in independent power supply will permanently own the IPP and the power which they generate into the system will be paid for. They may also establish their separate distribution networks, supply directly to consumers and charge them under licence by the government.

Government will however not completely hands off capital projects in these areas and will be actively involved in opening up roads both in the urban and rural areas and providing electricity. Water provision will continue to draw our attention and a UNPP government will build more dams, sink more bore holes and construct more water treatment plants.

Quality Education:
Education represents a key area of greatest decline in present day Nigeria. Our problem is not only that this Government has lost focus on economy, but has no plans at all for the future of our children. For about 3 months now our children in all Nigerian Universities are at home because this Government has failed to understand and appreciate the place of human resources development in nation. These children are almost losing a term yet the Government does not know how to resolve the impasse. It has happened before in this administration. Rather than the Government keep faith with its bargain with ASUU, it reneged. Now most parents are scampering for admissions for their children in universities in Ghana and Togo at annual fee of N1.4 million in the average. At the centre of our strategy for rebuilding the nation. We shall deploy appropriate programmes for revamping educational sector.

We shall work towards realizing a true nationwide free education at the primary and secondary levels. The current UBE programme will be revised and properly funded. A deliberate reequipping of the tertiary institutions will be pursued. The private sector will be encouraged to play more active roles in the provision of tertiary education. Our plan will be to ensure that standards are raised to more acceptable international levels. This will engender healthy competition and reduce the incidence of declining quality due to poor infrastructure, poor staff remuneration and invariably constant labour unrests, which disrupt academic activities in public schools.

Internet connectivity will be provided in institutions of higher learning to improve scholarship and adequately engage the youths. Skills acquisition in Information Technology especially in software development and hardware maintenance will be introduced as electives in the academic curricular.

Health Care:
Our teaching hospitals will be properly equipped at least up to
the standard of the National Hospital Abuja. More federal Medical Centres will be built and equipped. There shall be free medicare for all pregnant women and children up to the age of 12 years in government hospitals.

To achieve the above objectives, budgetary allocations to these sectors must always exceed 7% (for each of the sector) in the capital allocations of each year’s budget. In line with this objective, medical staff emoluments will be regularly reviewed. Also the National Health Insurance Scheme will be vigorously implemented.

Return to Responsible Budgeting
Never before in our budgeting history has the country experienced the degree of budgetary indiscipline as witnessed in the past three years. Beginning from the 1999 Supplementary Budget, the process has been fraught with gross abuse of all sorts ranging from a lack of transparency to reckless spending. In the past three years, it has been difficult to know whether what has been appropriated and approved were released.

Under our UNPP administration, we will institute what is called “transformation budgeting” in which the budgetary system will be used as instrument for driving visible development and transforming the lives of our people. Programmes under transformation budgeting will go “beyond budgeting” to underscore transparency, accountability, the elevation of the quality of the lives of the citizenry through the provision of superior health services, good roads, transportation, education, creation of employment, and provision of potable water as the defining principles.

To strengthen our economy, we must aim at strengthening the value of the Naira through monetary and fiscal policies that will redress import/export imbalance and drive growth. We intend to focus on foreign exchange drives in areas of competitive advantage like in exportation of cocoa, rubber, palm oil and cotton. We shall continue to emphasize budget discipline and balance.

Our administration will ensure that budget proposals are submitted early enough to the legislative arm of government; respecting the time that must be given for deliberations and early passage. This will considerably minimize the macroeconomic uncertainties and poor planning that has continuously hindered real growth.

Fight Against Corruption
This government has continued to make pretensions about fighting corruption. In actual fact however, this government has turned out to be about the worst kind in this vice since the country’s independence. Transparency International has consistently rated Nigeria between the second and the most corrupt country in the world. President Obasanjo has continued to pretend that whereas some people under him may be corrupt, he is personally incorruptible. Evidence say otherwise and the fact that he has not called anybody to order speaks volumes. The Holy scriptures affirm: “Show me your companions and I will tell you your kind of person.” The recently retired Auditor-General’s report was very indicting on the Executive arm including the Presidency. The NNPC which the President supervises is mired in sharp practices and controversies surrounding missing revenue. For speaking the truth, Mr. Azie, the Auditor-General instead of commendation was upbraided and sacked by a President who claims to be fighting corruption. Can this action be for the sake of hiding the truth? Time will tell. Meanwhile, an important economic programme, the Privatization exercise is steepeds in all kinds of controversies with people at the top being accused of buying up public assets through proxies and at ridiculous prices. Unfortunately, the ICPC, the agency set up to battle corruption has been turned into a witch hunting institution by the Presidency.

To fight corruption, we intend to strengthen the anti-corruption agency legally. In this light, the proposed amendments currently being pursued by the National Assembly is most commendable. In addition, the Act establishing the Code of Conduct Bureau will be reviewed to empower the Commission to publish Assets Declaration of top public officials. The publication of assets of elected government officials shall be done at both the inception of office of such public office holders and at the expiration of their tenure in office.. Nigerians should have a right to subpoena government officials to make public issues concerning government generated revenue and public fund expenditure such as tendering processes and contract award, contract execution and mode of payment, etc. This is without prejudice to state security matters which can also be challenged in court if interested parties feel strongly that such disclosures will not hamper internal security.

Foreign Policy
Our national interests will be the defining yardstick for our foreign affairs policy. We will continue to stress African unity and our membership of the African Union and ECOWAS shall be vigorously maintained and strengthened. We shall continue to abide by the United Nations charter and Commonwealth obligations. While a UNPP government at the Center may not refuse invitations of interventions in trouble spots of the world with regards to peace keeping operations, we will ensure that such interventions do not hurt our economy or overly expose our troops to danger. We will engage the West to provide economic buffers for our leading role in maintaining peace in the African Region. We will continue to take advantage of the benefits of NEPAD and, the African Growth and Opportunities Act. Our bilateral agreements with other nations shall be respected and those no longer relevant to our economic survival shall be renegotiated and reviewed. We shall continue to employ constructive engagement in our relationships with other countries.

In the beginning of this administration, the outgoing president without consultation took the issue of derivation to the Supreme Court. After the judgement he hypocritically brought a bill to National Assembly for the abrogation of the Onshore/Offshore-dichotomy. The National Assembly which I was part of overwhelmingly passed the bill abolishing the dichotomy thereby giving back to the people of Niger Delta what rightly belonged to them. Every part of the country both the North and South supported the bill. The bill gives the coastal states, for the purpose of calculation of derivation, 200 nautical miles of the continental shelf as stipulated by law of sea convention 1982 as amended. After the bill was passed the outgoing president started his usual divide and rule strategy by inciting some parts of Northern States and refusing to assent or veto the bill and proposing the amendment of the bill to reduce the 200 nautical miles as stipulated in the Act as passed by the National Assembly and in line with International Law of the Sea Convention which Nigeria is a signatory. The purport of the proposed amendments is to deprive the people of the Niger Delta the enjoyment of what belongs to them, with active participation with some Niger Delta “leaders”. He is now proposing 200 meters Isobath deep which amounts to little or nothing as against 200 nautical miles of the continental shelf Article 76 of the Law of Sea Convention states.

The outgoing president used this new “200 meters Isobath” in order to deceive the people as that has no bearing to the Law of the Sea Convention for the purpose of coastal state development and exploitation of the natural resources.

His other argument that if the bill is passed that this may lead to war with States, i.e., countries, is liquid, since the Law of the Sea Convention makes provision for Joint Development Zones and/agreements with other countries where there is overlap between one State and another. Luckily, the better part of our seaward neighbours are the Atlantic Ocean. (See Article 83 Law of the Sea Convention 1982).

Similarly, when the NDDC bill was passed by the Senate which I was part of, adequate provision was made for the funding of the NDDC, the outgoing president reduced it to the barest minimum. Lack of adequate funding and management has rendered the NDDC ineffective.

As I am speaking to you now, the outgoing president had refused/neglected to sign the bill as passed by the National Assembly, instead inciting the North and calling for the amendment of the Bill. Elementary students of Constitutional and Administrative Law know that what is amendable is a Law not a Bill. If at all he is sincere, he should have either assent the Bill and later bring an amendment to the Law. If there is really any need for an amendment.


First and foremost, my Government will not deceive you and I will be sincere on all issues affecting the Niger Delta. Presently, my colleagues at the Senate and I are pushing for the overriding of president veto on the Onshore/Offshore dichotomy Bill as passed by the National Assembly. In the event of this not happening, the first task I will perform as an executive president of Nigeria by the grace of GOD and your support, is to sign the Bill into Law.

As I speak to you today, I have asked my Consultants to study and draws up a comprehensive framework for the redevelopment of every Ward in the Niger Delta. Never again, should we allow the Waters, Rivers and Farmlands of Niger Delta to be polluted without remedying the environment.

Oil and Gas is a non-renewable natural resource and expected to be exhausted in the next couple of years. By this time Waters and Farmlands of the Niger Delta will be wasted, yet they told you that you are not entitled to 13% derivatives or more, to replenish your Waters and Farmlands, to recreate wealth for the benefit of your people.
Studies had shown that 90% of the Oil and Gas Industry is dominated by foreigners. This lack of local content in the industry had affected the employment and technological development of our people and the Niger Delta in particular.

The jobs/contracts that ought to employ our people are handled by foreigners. My Government will make the difference, local content in all aspects of the industry, within the upstream and downstream will be encouraged. These could be achieved by strong commitment of Government and the right policy, training and financial support through the banks to finance local contractors in these sector.

Gentlemen of the Press, I will not end this conference without extending a challenge to President Obasanjo to a national debate on the following issues:
1. The economy- value of the Naira, accountability, etc.

2. Human Rights Abuses – arbitrary detention of citizens without trial; seizure of citizens’ passports, etc

3. Lack of respect for the constitution and several unconstitutional actions that defined the last impeachment proceedings against him by the National Assembly.

4. Corruption and abuse of ICPC as a witch hunt.

5. Intimidation of other arms of Government
(a) Several Executive induced acts of sabotage against the leadership of NASS
(b) First act of corruption i.e. even before the inauguration of NASS

6. Abuse of Executive power without due process.

7. Genocide against indigenes of Odi in Bayelsa State; and
Zakibiam, Benue State.

8. Insecurity and crime; religious intolerance and violence.

9. Lack of focus in Foreign Affairs inspite of globe trotting; in

10. fact, the stature of Nigeria has diminished because of
irresponsible junketing

11. No Government completed projects, failure of infrastructures
and roads.

Your Excellency, my presidential running mate, our revered National Chairman, our Gubernatorial Flag bearers and their deputies, other party executive, Gentlemen of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen; our great party, the UNPP is seeking power for the common good. We look forward to a qualitative and collective leadership; we intend to be leaders, not bosses: the boss depends on authority, the leader depends on good will; the boss makes a fortune, the leader stakes his fortune; the boss demands respect, the leader earns respect; the boss evokes fear, the leader radiates love.

Our leadership seeks to change the fortunes of this country; revitalize the key sectors of the economy, especially the manufacturing sector that is comatose; put food back on the Nigerian table; empower the youths; mobilize the women and confront unemployment frontally.

We do exhort the good people of Nigeria not to lose hope in the political class. Nigeria remains a great country, with even greater prospects and bigger challenges.

We do not claim a monopoly of wisdom, we shall consult and not talk down on Nigerians; we shall assemble experts in every field for the common good.

We have faith in ourselves, and in Nigerians to rise to the test of our time, even in unavoidable adversity; we shall remain focused on our good, we are ready, we shall not shy away nor pass on the challenge nor rest until we bring about a change, positive change to the affairs of our nation.

We will leave you, gentlemen of the Press, with the following challenge which reflects our dedication to this nation.

I am fully aware of the daunting problems of ruling such a giant nation that represents the hope of Africa. But I take refuge and guidance in the inspiring admonition of Royard Kipling which says, and I quote –

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing
theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make
allowance for their doubting too; …
If you can dream and not make dreams your master;
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those
two impostors just the same; …
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings not lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; …
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it; and what is more

– you’ll be a man, my son!”

Finally, we place our confidence in GOD. We trust Him to lead us right; help our nation to face these challenges and overcome them. And may He continue to protect and bless Nigeria, our dear nation. - END