DAILY INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER
Sunday, January 2, 2005
2005 Political leaders predict harder times
In spite of assurance of improved standard of living given to Nigerians by President Olusegun Obasanjo in his New Year speech, most political leaders who spoke to Sunday Independent over the weekend were of the opinion that Nigerians may be in for harder times.
The politicians said there was need for Nigerians to work harder to free themselves from their 2004 penurious condition.
Speaking in exclusive telephone interviews, some political leaders, almost in unison, told Sunday Independent the the country’s socio-economic and political weather is so inclement that there would be nothing to cheer about in the new year.
In the opinion of the National Chairman of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and leader of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, 2005 would be a worse year for Nigerians, in terms of economic hardship and political crises, than the previous years.
The Second Republic governor of the old Kaduna State also stressed that except a fundamental and revolutionary change takes place in the country, Nigeria may be heading for the rocks. “At least, there is going to be a revolution. The situation in 2005 will be worse than it was in 2004. There is nothing on the ground now to show that the lot of the Nigerian masses will change for better in 2005,” he said.
Asked to explain what he meant by “fundamental, revolutionary change”, Musa said; “What is required now is a fundamental revolutionary change if at all we expect any improvement. First, Obasanjo’s government must resign, because it is leading the country to a terrible situation. It will become worse unless the government resigns and hands over to an interim Government of National Unity.”
He was emphatic that this suggestion represents the only hope for Nigeria’s survival. “Without that (Obasanjo’s resignation), I don’t think there is any hope now,” he said.
He added that the alternative to his suggestion is “the continuation of perpetual crisis and absolute lack of peace in every part of the country.”
The former governor took a deep look at the crisis tearing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) apart and concluded that the party will not survive it. “Look at what is happening to the PDP. I don’t think they can come out of it,” he said.
He blamed President Obasanjo for fueling the crisis. “Obasanjo has no friend who can tell him anything that he would want to listen to. That has become a great threat to the survival of Nigeria as an entity. So the best thing, if we must save Nigeria, is for Obasanjo to resign now,” he said. But in his New Year broadcast, yesterday, Obasanjo assured Nigerians that the follow-up action to the proposed political reform would be announced early this year.
Also commenting on the new year and what it should have in stock for the nation, national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chief Chekwas Okorie, asked the populace to gear up and demand for greater participation in the running of the affairs of the nation.
Okorie was particular about what he described as the president’s plan to appropriate the National Dialogue project, and warned that Nigerians must not allow that to happen. “Nigerians must come together now to ensure that we have a proper National Conference. We must take the initiative away from Obasanjo,” he said.
He argued that the corporate existence of Nigeria this year depends, to a large extent, on the outcome of the National Conference, adding, “If it is done properly, through the participation of true representations of the various ethnic nationalities and not by the hand-picked government’s surrogates, then the country will survive; but if Obasanjo is allowed to get away with what he is plotting, it may as well be goodbye to Nigeria.”
National Chairman of the Progressives Action Congress (PAC), Chief Charles Aganda Enyi Nwodo, also spoke along the same line of the need for popular agitation for freedom by the masses. “2005 will usher in a time for people to demand for their rights. Nigerians have witnessed years of submissive behaviour and since they have been over-submissive, there has not been any positive reward for that submissiveness,” he said.
Nwodo posited further: “In 2005, people will rise, legally and constitutionally, to demand for their rights and that will make the polity very vibrant.”
He also spoke of economic handship in retrospect: “2004 was a very tough year for the people of this country. It was a year of poverty, a year of suffering for majority of Nigerians;, a year of abuse of the rule of law and also a year of poor implementation of economic policies,” he said.
He added that 2005 poses even greater economic challenge for the country because the government, in its budget proposals, has neglected the agricultural sector. He called on the government to raise the percentage vote for Agriculture in this year’s budget.
For the National Chairman of the biggest opposition party in the country, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Obong Don Etiebet, 2005 will be a year to right all the wrongs done on the people of Nigeria by their rulers.
He said he approached the new year with great expectation because it offers hope of healing a lot of wounds in the land. “We look forward to a great new year. It will be a year of healing of so many wounds inflicted on the people of Nigeria by their rulers,” said Etiebet who spoke from London where he was on medical check-up.
He added, “we look forward to the new year with great expectation for better things for the people of Nigeria. It is a year we all have to work hard in order to right a lot of wrongs done against the Nigerian people in previous years. It is a year of great hope and a leap forward, from our present state of stagnation,” he said.
Etiebet called on Nigerians not to despair, as 2005 will certainly bring them good tidings.
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