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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
GOVERNMENT WILL DO FOR THE NIGER DELTA
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
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
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
Gentlemen of the Press, I will not end this conference without extending
a challenge to President Obasanjo to a national debate on the following
1. The economy- value of the Naira, accountability, etc.
2. Human Rights Abuses
– arbitrary detention of citizens without trial; seizure of citizens’
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
(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
11. No Government
completed projects, failure of infrastructures
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 –