TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2014
Mr Chairman, permit me to begin by expressing my profound gratitude to the multitude of compatriots that have travelled from across the length and breadth of this Great Country to attend this historic event. The size and composition of this august gathering has further confirmed my conviction that a peaceful, united and more prosperous Nigeria is possible. The immense sacrifice made by this large throng of Nigerians to come to Abuja, in spite of the scandalous conditions of our highways; in spite of the biting insecurity all over the country as manifested in insurgency, armed robbery, kidnapping, and ethno-religious unrest; in spite of the very high risk of, and persistent disappointments in our local aviation industry; and in spite of the general mood of unease deliberately created and being fuelled by the incompetent PDP-led administration, is a testimony to what I have always believed about this country – Change, positive change, is possible. Change, progressive change, is doable. And we are the agents of this Change. We are the Change! We should not only make it possible, we must make it achievable. Yes, we must.
Mr Chairman distinguished Party Leaders, and Fellow APC members. It is only our Great Party, the All Progressive Congress, APC that has what it takes not only to stop this misrule of the PDP but also to reverse the stinking rot and decay that is suffocating our Country. Our Party is the only Party that is built with Nigeria and Nigerians in focus. This is expressed succinctly in the Ten Commitments of the APC and also encapsulated concisely in the Mission Statement of our Party. We are the only party that practice internal democracy that believes in equal rights that value our cultural diversities that respect our religious varieties that abides by the rule of law, and that believe in free and fair election as the only lifeline for sustaining democratic legitimacy. Mr Chairman, we have a huge burden of responsibility to mobilize Nigerians to come out en-masse come February 2015 to sack the PDP out of power and save our dear country. Yes we must!
Distinguished Compatriots, my crave to serve and save our country drove me, twenty four years ago, to resign from the Kano State Civil Service as Principal Engineer in 1991 to join partisan politics and contested election as a member of the House of Representatives, where I was also elected as Deputy Speaker. The detailed workings of our legislative assembly, the intricacies, complexities and delicate politicking in our legislative chambers are experiences that I lived.
Mr. Chairman and fellow APC members, the call to save our dear Country has never been louder, clearer and more unambiguous than now. Every facet of our national life is deteriorating: governance has been reduced to mediocrity; incompetence and impunity. I have no doubt in my mind that this journey is difficult and arduous. I have no illusion about the enormity of the challenges. But to save our country, we must walk the journey, however difficult. And we must confront and defeat all the challenges, however monstrous. Yes, we must!
The first priority of this country at this moment is restoring peace and security in every corner of the land. Lives and properties of our citizens must be protected and secured. Boko Haram and all forms of insurgency must be defeated. As a government, we cannot afford to live in denial. Insecurity is escalating at an alarming rate. Little wonder rag-tag insurgents are taking over cities and towns in the Northeast. My experiences as Nigeria’s Defence Minister and as Special Adviser on war-torn Darfur and Somalia have shown me that securing a nation and fighting and defeating armed insurgents is only achievable if the forces are professionally mobilized, properly kitted and equipped, highly spirited, and correctly armed with intelligence and munitions.
My experiences have shown me that technology must be deployed in addition to mobilizing and cultivating the support of local communities. Cross-border intelligence is a veritable ingredient necessary to defeat armed insurgents. Relegating the welfare of the Armed Forces and the Nigerian Police Force to the background only helps in compounding the phenomenon. And where low morals meet poor quality equipment and kits, no doubt the insurgents will have an edge. Any responsible government must take these issues seriously if protection of life and property of its citizens is its primary responsibility. These, we understand very well. We must work together, compatriots, in a new APC government to achieve this. Yes, we must!
Our journey to economic prosperity will always be imperilled if the peace and security of movements of persons and goods cannot be guaranteed. Stopping these menaces does not require rocket science. Good surveillance equipment deployed appropriately and manned by well-groomed and well motivated enforcement agents will do the magic. Ensuring that the culprits are apprehended and brought to justice is imperative.
The second priority of this country, my compatriots, is killing the cancer of corruption that has eaten so deeply into the very fabric of our value system. The impunity with which corruption is being perpetrated, promoted, and protected by the present PDP administration leaves no patriotic Nigerian in doubt that the government is working deliberately and with determination to impoverish Nigerians.. We must stop them. We must save our country. Yes, we must. Effective fight against corruption requires strong institutions, political will of the leadership, as well as cooperation of the citizenry. This, we are determined to do. Our antecedent testifies that we have the capacity and political will to do so.
The transparency with which we are running the affairs of Kano State and the results that the entire country is seeing are a testimony to our doggedness in fighting corruption. Corruption is one of the veritable nutrients of insecurity. The strategy of the present PDP administration to perpetuate itself in Power is divisive. It is most unfortunate that this administration uses religious, ethnic, sectional and other primordial
Sentiments to cover protect and promote corruption in public life. These same sentiments are being used to polarise and divide the country in order to perpetually remain in Power. We must stand up together as one people to fight against corruption, impunity and division. Yes, we must.
The next priority Mr. Chairman is the economy. Nations do not build sound economies on insecurity, brigandage and mayhem. Nations do not build responsive economies on a foundation of scandalous corruption and impunity. Nations do not build strong economies on lies and half-truths. We cannot be different. All sorts of colourful yet deceptive statistics are being churned out by the PDP administration to give Nigeria’s economy a clean bill of health. They are all conjectures. The reality on the ground is at sharp contrast with the cooked up statistics. The fiscal policy of the present administration is more than disastrous. Its micro and macroeconomic policies are as vacuous as they are deceptive. Budget performance is more than qualified to be in the Guinness’ Book of World Records of fiscal indiscipline and poor performance. How can we attain development when only a tiny percentage of our budget is allocated for Capital Project and even that is not properly implemented? How can we grow when the wealth of the nation is being stolen by the very trustees to the wealth? Where on this planet do we have a nation so endowed and yet again so impoverished. That is why we must rally around and replace this present PDP Government with a progressive and responsive APC administration under my stewardship. In Kano State, we have one of the best records of fiscal discipline in the country. This has been acknowledged severally by reputable institutions and numerous credible professional bodies and civil society organizations, several of whom have honoured the State at different occasions. This is our vision for Nigeria. Our plan for Nigeria is to gradually achieve a budget Capital to Recurrent ratio of at least 70 to 30 per cent within our first three years in office. We will cut cost of running government and eliminate all forms of wastages like we have done in Kano. It is possible. It is achievable. With the support of all we can be there. Yes, we must.
We cannot have a functional economy without the active participation of the private sector and the collaboration of our international partners and friends.
Cutting cost of business is one of the instruments we must use to provide a conducive environment for both local and foreign investors. Our import and export policies shall be re-examined to make business easier and less expensive. several other issues that make private sector operation difficult and expensive will be reviewed. The gains achieved in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors will be improved. We cannot build a formidable economy without a sustainable energy source. Our country’s investments in power and the corresponding output is, to say the least, embarrassing. The independent power project we initiated in Kano State which is expected to be completed in March 2015 will be generating 35 Megawatts of electricity. This volume of energy will re-launch Kano to its position as a leading industrial and commercial centre.
The strength of any economy, distinguished compatriots, depends on the quality, competence, fitness and morale of the available human resources that drive it. Nigeria’s education and health sectors are facing multi-throng crises of quality, quantity, infrastructure, equipment, and brain drain. At the heart of these crises are policy and sincerity. We must remake our National Education and Health Policies to provide for sustainable lifeline of funding for these very critical sectors of our national life. Toying with the education of our children and youth is akin to passing a death sentence to an entire generation. A generation killed, a future mortgaged, and a country destroyed. That is the result of playing insincere politics with education. We cannot afford to sacrifice the future of Nigeria. I want to thank the people who worked with me to revitalize the education system in Kano State. We have constructed more and more physical infrastructure for teaching and learning, distributed more learning resources including electronic teaching facilities, increased primary school enrolment and expanded access to education at all levels. We have improved the teachers’ conditions of service and welfare, and pursued a vigorous high-level manpower development policy including the training of all categories of professionals locally and abroad.. We have established numerous vocational institutes and training schools to give our youth skills and training that will make them more useful contributors to the growth of our economy. In pursuance of our belief that knowledge is Power and knowledge is Wealth we have made education free at all levels in Kano State.
Mr Chairman, we cannot brag of having a sound economy when our universities are sick. A strong, competitive economy is only possible in countries with strong and world class universities. We have no excuse for keeping our universities and other tertiary institutions in the present sorry state. We must rebuild our universities and make them the world class institutions that they once were.
The capital flight out of Nigeria from citizens who travel to other climes to seek medical attention is alarming. This is the consequence of government’s failure to put in place a functional national health policy and to provide even the minimum health infrastructures. The direct correlation between the strength of our economy and the health of our citizens is very clear in my mind. A sick population can never be productive. A sick population cannot drive a robust economy. We must provide the necessary health infrastructures to support the wellbeing of our nation. We must create the conditions that will make medical and associated practices attractive and rewarding in our country. In this regard government must provide and encourage a conducive atmosphere for research and development in the Health Sector.
Our country is blessed with abundant, resourceful and dynamic human resources that can effectively harness numerous natural resources that abound in all nooks and crannies of the country. However, lack of political will and committed leadership to make effective use of these resources militates against the growth and development of our economy.
While our country languishes in the ignominy of corruption and bad governance, women in Nigeria are the worst victims of these malaises. Women constitute the largest part of our population, they make the greatest sacrifices and contributions yet they are always relegated, under-represented and marginalized. Most of the victims of insurgency, terrorism and the general insecurity are women. They get killed, they get widowed, they get orphaned, they get abducted, maimed, humiliated and abused and yet, they get no support from the central government. Let us have a government that will give priority and sincere attention to women and children. Let us have a government that will give high premium to the girl-child education. Let us have a government that will create policies to empower the Nigerian women to become competitive players in every sector of our national life. Let us have a government that respect women and children and protect their lives and dignities. Let us have a Kwankwaso-led government that will actualize these for Nigeria. What we have achieved in Kano State in terms of girl-child education, women empowerment, maternal health and wellbeing has made Kano one of the most women-friendly states in the country. Nigerian women must come out to the polling stations in droves to vote for the APC in the next general election. Our government will be a government for the Nigerian woman! A government for the Nigerian girl! A government for the Nigerian child! We must work hard to enthrone that government. This can only be done by an APC Government under my leadership. We have done it in our State. And we will do it for the whole country. Yes, we must.
Just as women and children are being neglected and discriminated upon by the thick-skinned government of the PDP, so are our elderly, the pensioners and the physically challenged. Federal government pensioners suffer every unimaginable maltreatment and dehumanization. They gave their all to the nation during their youthful ages and, today at the moment of their need, when they are weak and aged, when they need the support of the nation the most, they are being traumatized and betrayed. They are being abandoned and humiliated. Let us work together to cater for the need of our senior citizens. Let us build a government that will give Pensioners a decent lease of life. Let us have the opportunity to bring smiles to the face of every Nigerian Pensioner as we have done in Kano State. We have reformed the pension process in Kano. We have made it more efficient and more responsive. And we have increased the pension by more than 4000%. Distinguished Compatriots, we must have a policy that will index the pension of Nigerian retirees to the prevailing conditions of service of serving employees. We cannot afford to be paying our pensioners a ‘starvation pension’ thereby condemning them to poverty and destitution. We must give them a decent life. Yes we must!
Mr Chairman, our country has never had a coherent policy for the elderly and for citizens with special needs. Governments do nothing but treat them as beggars and burdens. Their education, their health, their general welfare and wellbeing and their special needs are never attended to or even factored into government plans and operations. We must change this. We must ratify all the relevant UN conventions relating to the rights of persons with disabilities. We must put in place a clear policy and mechanism for implementing the provisions of the convention. Let us have a government that will put in place and implement the equal opportunity policy for all Nigerians. Let us have a government that will ensure that no one is discriminated upon because of their special needs. That is an APC Government! That will be the Kwankwaso administration.
The cheap money from oil and gas that our country is so dependent on is being threatened by many factors: the diversification of energy sources by the major energy-consuming nations, the crashing of the price of oil in the international market, the organized oil bunkering and pipeline vandalisation, and the finiteness of the resource, etc. We must go beyond the politics of resource control and plan the future of this country carefully and intelligently. That future cannot be built around a finite resource. It must be built around resources that are limitless such as education and agriculture. Let us work together to harness these limitless resources to build a peaceful, united, prosperous and egalitarian society.
Time and again, I listen to people accuse the Nigerian youth of being an ‘angry bunch’. Let me seize this opportunity to commend the Nigerian youth for being angry. Anger in today’s Nigeria is a virtue that every Patriot must imbue. We must be very angry with what is happening to our country. We must be very angry because an inept government is killing our dreams, destroying our future, squandering our wealth, and shortening our lives. In Kano State, we are giving hope to the youth through education and skills acquisition schemes. We have sponsored thousands of graduates to different universities all over the world to pursue various higher degrees. We have sponsored thousands of youth to many institutions all over the country to study for different courses and pursue the careers of their dreams. We have made education free in all public schools, from primary school to the university.
We have established numerous skills incubation centres where youth and women get trained and start-up capital given to them to commence their small enterprise. We are creating opportunities. We are creating jobs. We are also making the youth to be the creators of jobs. We are bringing meaning into their lives. These are the butterfly effects that must be created all over the country. This is possible. Let me call on all Nigerian youth to unleash their anger on their ballot papers by voting the PDP out of Aso Rock in February, 2015. We must vote for the APC to bring change to our nation, to actualize hope, to remove despair and despondency. We must mobilize our anger to make the PDP administration history. Yes, we must.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished compatriots, let me conclude this address with a reflection on the sad slide of our country in international affairs from grace to grass. Once upon a time, Nigeria stood out as the doyen of Africa’s diplomacy, and credible global Ambassadors of Peace and Stability as reflected in our leadership of peace keeping operations around the Globe. Our neighbours in particular then looked to us for leadership, support and at critical times for their existence. Regrettably, Mr. Chairman, today the reverse is the case. We are sadly on our knees looking for aid and cooperation from our neighbours and the international community to preserve our territorial integrity and wellbeing. An APC administration under my stewardship will as a matter of priority overhaul our foreign policy initiative and harvest the dividends of our interventions in the economy, security and other critical areas highlighted in this address, to revamp the image of Nigeria and place our country in its right position as the Giant of Africa and a key global player in international relations. Mr. Chairman, this we must do. Yes, we must.
The success of this journey and clarion call by patriotic Nigerians from across the country motivated me to seek APC’s Nomination as the Party’s Presidential Flag bearer for the February 2015 general election. I therefore, wish to accept this call and to formally declare my interest to seek for the Presidential ticket of our great party the APC in February 2015 general elections. I am offering myself and soliciting the support of all patriotic Nigerians to join Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso on this difficult journey to reclaim our country from the clutches of incompetence and destruction and return it onto the pedestal of Peace and Progress. I have no doubt in my mind that this journey is difficult and ardours. I have no illusion about the enormity of the challenges. But to save our country, we must walk the journey, however difficult. And we must confront and defeat all the challenges, however, monstrous they are. Yes, we must.
Thank you for your kind attention and patience.
God bless you all. God bless the APC. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.