Economy, security prevail as Atiku, Tinubu skip debates
Security and the economy took center stage on Sunday with Labor Party presidential candidates Peter Obi; Peoples Party of New Nigeria, Musa Kwankwaso and Kola Abiola of Peoples Redemption Party gathered at Arise tv Presidential Town Hall ‘Security and Economy’ series in Abuja.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and his All Progressives Congress counterpart, Bola Tinubu, did not show up for the debate organized by Arise TV in association with the Center for Development and Democracy at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Although Atiku was represented by his running mate, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Tinubu did not send any representative.
But supporters of the LP, NNPP and PRP, who were unhappy with Atiku’s absence, scolded Okowa, declaring that the event was only for presidential candidates.
Chanting “no representation by proxy”, supporters prevented the program from starting on time as organizers tried to pacify them.
Speaking on his plans to tackle insecurity in the country, Atiku talked about intelligence gathering and sharing among security agencies.
Calling for the decentralization of the police, the PDP candidate emphasized that the current police system cannot secure the country.
He said. “We need to emphasize systematic intelligence gathering and sharing. We need more boots on the ground to fight insecurity in Nigeria. We need to develop policing in Nigeria to ensure that people who understand their areas better know how to secure their areas. The centralized police force is unable to meet our demands.
“We need more boots on the ground. We need adequate welfare to ensure that our security agencies are better taken care of. We must also address unemployment or more young people will be recruited to contribute to insecurity. Technically, it is very important, but the equipment is not enough. Shoe men should be well trained and paid.’
He emphasized the role of the private sector in the Nigerian project, which he hopes to lead if elected as the country’s president.
The PDP presidential candidate also spoke about how his director will unite and lead the country on the path of development with the support of the private sector.
He added: Atiku is a successful businessman and head of very successful academic institutions. We have a document, My Covenant with Nigeria, a joint document on behalf of him, me and the PDP.
“The private sector has its role. In order to make progress, we need to talk about the unity of this country. Until we can come together and understand that we need to think and work together, we may not be able to take the path that will lead us to new growth.”
On debts, Okowa recalled how former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Vice President Atiku secured Nigeria’s debt relief while in power.
“From 1999 to 2007, we knew where President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku met the country and where they left it. Thanks to them, we were able to pay back most of our debt and have debt forgiveness.
“In Delta State, we used to have agitations in the oil producing communities. But now we have partnered in these communities to create jobs, create a new class of entrepreneurs and show people that we care about development,” said the vice-presidential candidate.
The Labor presidential candidate said he would act quickly to rescue kidnap victims if he were Commander-in-Chief, describing the government’s response to kidnapping incidents as weak.
Obi stated that he will also have a thoughtful process and will show sympathy to the families of the victims.
He added: “There was a failure to give due attention to processing and intelligence, which I would have given due intelligence and dealt with immediately. Government action and communication were weak. And I think it shows the overall need to improve our intelligence processing and to respond immediately when such a situation arises.”
He also stated that insecurity would be minimized if more people were lifted out of poverty.
“I have consistently said that the more people you lift out of poverty, the more you reduce the crime rate that exists in the country,” he argued.
Answering the question of what he will do to fight against bribery, he said: “I have always maintained that they are doing what they are doing in a country where these people in the government are richer than the entrepreneurs. I have served a state for eight years and you can go to that state and see that not a single day have I ever borrowed from any financial institution in Nigeria. Since leaving office I have not been in any position or ever been called by anyone for questions about their missing money.
“I didn’t owe anyone anything. Any contractor that delivered their project, I did not owe any supplies. I didn’t owe wages, bonuses, or anything. In three banks in Nigeria, Access Bank, Fidelity Bank and Diamond Bank, I left $50 million and over $10 billion to the state. I am as angry as they are, that we should be able to drive them out, where they have passed, no one can count what they have given them.’
Speaking on the Abuja-Kaduna train terror attack and kidnapping of passengers, the NNPP candidate recalled how the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, under which he served as a minister and presidential adviser, secured all parts of Nigeria and stepped forward to restore peace in other African countries.
Kwankwaso said: “As a former defense minister, I can assure you that the situation should not have been allowed. I’m sure you remember that recently we released our draft, and in our draft we made it very clear that the number of troops we have today, which is about 250,000, is grossly inadequate.
“Therefore, we have made adequate arrangements to have about a million military personnel: Army, Air Force and Navy. In doing so, we believe we are going to own every square meter of our land in this country. At the moment, there are about 230,000 policemen. we also want to increase it to about one million; unite the State Security Service, Civil Defense and other security structures. We should be able to take ownership of our land in a very short period of time.
“We will be very ready to dialogue with anyone. Anyone who has any hatred in any part of the country, our government will sit down with them and have a dialogue. Anyone who decides to think differently, in the end, definitely, the law will take its course.”
Kwankwaso further promised to improve national security by encouraging willing youth corps members to join the Armed Forces and other security agencies.
He said. “Some of us who are members of the extended security family of this country are very concerned and disturbed and sometimes even ashamed that today in 2022, the security agencies have failed to identify the whereabouts of the terrorists especially when everyone including the criminals. are using phones, and those phones are not hard to identify, and those are the problems.”
I will do it with praise
The former governor of Kano state revealed that he is also angry with the system like all other Nigerians and “it is for these reasons that some of us are angry to the extent of leaving PDP and APC because we think there are better ways. : doing things in this country.”
He added: “We believe the system has failed and that is why we have decided to go to the New Nigeria People’s Party, the harmless party in this country.”
Responding to a question about the tribal bent of some candidates’ campaigns, Kwankwaso said: “The Constitution of this country took care of that. Any candidate for the president who came out in defense of ethnicity, race, religion, region, lost even before the elections.”
The former Minister of Defense noted that in order to win the presidential elections, the candidate must have received the most popular votes and win two-thirds or 24 of the 36 states. “The North cannot win the elections on its own. The South cannot win the elections on its own,” he emphasized.
Reacting to opposition from members of Okowa’s audience, Kwankwaso noted that due to the busyness of some presidential candidates, there may be a need for their candidate to represent them at events, noting that Atiku did well to send his vice presidential candidate. .
He said. “No candidate can boast that he will be present to everyone.” Which group that has something like this should accept it? I think the person sitting here (pointing to Okova) is better than the person who didn’t come and didn’t send any representative.”
Abiola, the PRP candidate, has promised Nigerians that he will not bring the baggage of previous administrations and recycled politicians into governance when elected.
Describing himself as a breath of fresh air with no record of holding public office in Nigeria, Abiola declared that he was the best man for the job.
He said. “We are coming to the federal level with a clean slate because we are not carrying the baggage of any administration or any party. We want to use this to turn Nigeria around and fight for the people.
“I have never run for governor, state president or local government council. What I am trying to point out is that the leadership has tried over the years. so much recycled and different people each time. Leaders stay in one party or jump parties.
“But this is the first time we have a candidate in the PRP who has not been there or any party at all. Let’s try to get a new one to solve Nigeria’s problem. Now comes the security issue.
“We represent what it means to be fresh, especially what it takes to ensure that those who come after us have the opportunity to determine their own destinies in a united Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the APC Presidential Campaign Council has defended Tinubu’s absence from the presidential debate, saying the event was against his engagements.
PCC Director of Media and Communications, Bayo Onanuga, in a telephone conversation with our correspondent, said the debate clashed with Tinubu’s campaign town hall meeting with agro-farmers in Mina, the Niger State capital.
Onanuga referred to the APC presidential campaign calendar to justify his position.
He said. “We are now in Minna to engage with farmers and agri-commodity groups as early as tomorrow. The media can’t suddenly come up with a debate and want us to drop everything we’re doing to participate in it. I’ts wrong. We also have our campaign schedule to follow.”
When reminded that the presidential candidate could still attend the town hall event as his engagement in Minna was scheduled for Monday, Onanuga disagreed.
“Are we going to use a plane to go to Minna? As I told you earlier, we are already in Minna and we cannot get to the program. In our case, their proposal contradicts the pre-election program of our candidate. That’s why we didn’t come,” he announced.
Asked if Tinubu would have appeared at the debate had it not been for Minna’s involvement, the campaign media director said there was a possibility.
He said. “Maybe. But he is busy with other things and cannot leave that one for that. There are more important things.
“After Minna, we return to Abuja before the next engagement in Nasarawa State on Wednesday. After that I think Calabar is going on Saturday. You see, this week is very busy for the candidate.”
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