• New Afenifere endorses Kwankwaso, promises inclusive governance
For the umpteenth time, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, has ruled out merger with the Labour Party (LP), saying those who are still talking of a possibility are being unrealistic.
He, however, admitted that if both parties had agreed to fuse into one, the 2023 presidential election would have been easy for them to win.
Kwankwaso, who spoke at an Editors’ Forum in Lagos, yesterday, said he was surprised some people were still talking of possibility of the merger when window for that opportunity has closed.
He criticised those who led LP in negotiation for the merger, which was hinged on the sentiment that the South East had never produced the President; hence Mr. Peter Obi should emerge presidential candidate from the deal.
He said: “We have passed the level of any relationship. But it was a good idea. And if it had been possible, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would not be talking of the possibility of second balloting today.
“The contentious issue was who will be the presidential candidate and the running mate. The committees from both parties sat to look at the criteria and they said, ‘let’s start from the age, educational qualification, offices held’, but the committee from LP did not want that.
“They said there is sentiment from the South East that they never produced the president, therefore, Obi must be in the lead. Our side tried to explain to them that it does not work that way. There is sentiment everywhere, and nobody, by the Constitution we have today, can become president by winning election in his zone alone.
“He must have 25 per cent in 24 states of the federation. That means you have to cross to the other side and be acceptable to them, which is good for the unity and stability of the country.”
Kwankwaso, who said he was not averse to restructuring and change of the 1999 Constitution, said the problem with Nigeria is not the Constitution but bad leaders that have not been operating the Constitution to the advantage of the country.
He said: “We are very open to discuss issues about restructuring and do what people want or the agitation against the 1999 Constitution. If there is need for amendment, we are open to it. But our problem is about operators of the Constitution in the last two decades.”
The former governor of Kano State said Nigerians are tired of both All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because they are the cause of problems facing the country. He said NNPP has come to breathe a new life to the nation and restore its value.
He said: “There was no ideology behind the formation of PDP other than kicking out the military. Thereafter, we realised our differences. So, we had to think of getting a progressive party.
“Five of us, PDP governors, had to move and join in forming APC. We also realised that APC had issues, and our expectations were dashed. We decided to form a party of like minds. However, when INEC refused to register our party, we looked around and found NNPP, which meets our beliefs and ideology.
“Like us, there are millions of Nigerians who are tired of APC and PDP. NNPP is the only party growing now, and the growth will continue as the 2023 polls approach. The other parties have nothing to say again.”
Fielding questions on how to resolve the perennial industrial dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the presidential candidate said the problem is about funding.
He said the Buhari administration, deficient in managing resources of the country, does not have enough funds to solve the problem. He noted that the country is losing much income to insecurity and oil theft in the Niger Delta, besides its inability to explore mineral resources.
Kwankwaso, who promised to employ more soldiers, if he is elected, said there is need to strengthen security forces in Nigeria and ensure a peaceful atmosphere for people to go about their normal businesses. He also lamented that a large number of farmers stay at IDP camps because of insecurity.
MEANWHILE, a group, under the aegis of New Afenifere, yesterday, urged Nigerians to support Kwankwaso’s aspiration, saying he has what it takes to deliver Nigeria from its challenges.
Coordinator of New Afenifere, Comrade Ajibade Adeyeye, who stressed that the group chose to identify with Kwankwaso because of his track record, stated this at a meeting with the presidential candidate in Lagos.
Adeyeye said it was time Nigerians took their future in their hands by electing trustworthy leaders, who mean well for the masses. He said: “On behalf of New Afenifere, we have decided to endorse the candidature of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, together with his running mate, Bishop Isaac Idahosa, for a new Nigeria.
“Therefore, I beseech all Yoruba race, all Afenifere lovers, all those who want good governance, who truly want true democracy to continue to exist in Nigeria, to join hands together with us by endorsing once again.
“As we know, he has antecedent, track records. It is just quite unfortunate that we, Nigerians, follow the truth. We don’t follow quality, otherwise, if we keep on recycling all these old politicians, it is like putting old wine in new bottles.”
On his part, Kwankwaso promised to run inclusive governance, if he wins the presidential election, stressing that his party would salvage the country from its challenges.
He said: “Let me, on behalf of the members of our party, thank the leadership of New Afenifere for finding us worthy of this endorsement. I am not surprised that these young men have decided to endorse us because, even in Kano, North West, South, we have young men and women who are supporting this cause.
“I believe NNPP is for the young people, world and everybody. So, I want to thank you for the foresight and for doing the right thing. And I want to assure you that our party will carry each and everyone along at national level, zone, state and even at grassroots.”