Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party (LP), candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, met with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Abuja, yesterday, in continuation of interactive session with key stakeholders ahead of the 2023 general elections, especially to secure the commitment of the candidates to issues that concern Christian communities.
At their separate interactions with the CAN leadership, they each promised to ensure a better Nigeria, if elected in the February poll.
Last week, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, that of the Accord Party (AP), Prof. Christopher Imumolen, and others met with the leadership of the umbrella Christian body for similar purposes.
Speaking at the forum, Obi said Nigeria presents every indication of a failed state because it has lost control of its territory and economy, hence it requires a leader with physical and mental energy to pilot its affairs otherwise, the country will be doomed. He urged Nigerians to look at the antecedents of the 18 presidential candidates on the ballot before casting their votes.
“Next year’s election should not be based on tribe. If it is by tribe the north would have been safer and be more developed. Yes, we must all respect the issue of religion, but even at that, we should not follow people blindly because of religion. We cannot use the process of yesterday or those who did not solve it yesterday for tomorrow.’’
Obi said also that if elected, he would be in-charge of the country with the required energy and mental requirements.
He also promised to address increasing debt profile of the country as well as engage youths in addressing the problems of Nigeria.
“The job of Nigeria president requires physical and mental energy. I will make sure that Nigeria works. In our country people don’t do what is expected, they do what is inspected. I will be there. I want to hire energetic men and women to start solving these problems. I want to pull young people with so much energy and talents. I want to invest in them because they can change the world. That is what I want. I believe I can solve these problems.’’
He also pledged to fight corruption and make the education sector to work.
“I am not going give excuses. The work of a leader is not to give excuses. I am not going to complain. It is not the job of a leader. I am not going to complain of the past. You are hiring for the future and I am going to be for the future.”
He said unity and security were needed to address problems bedevilling the nation, including moving of Nigeria from consumption to production. He noted that challenges of Nigeria like unemployment, drug abuse and others could be addressed by prioritising the production sector.
“We must secure and unite the country. When you secure the country, you are able to bring famers to return to the farm. That alone will start addressing food inflation. By moving the country from consumption to production you are moving people away from poverty. The more you pull people out of poverty, the more you address criminality.
“Nigeria now has 13.8 per cent drug prevalence against the global average of five per cent. To deal with that crisis is production. We need to feed ourselves.’’
While commending CAN for its proposed document to address the challenges of the country, he noted that Nigeria was not short of ideas to bring solution to anything, but lacked institutional framework and political will to implement the ideas. He said Nigeria could achieve whatever it wanted with true implementation of its great ideas.
Atiku, in his remarks, also commended CAN for the opportunity to meet and discuss the issues that concern Nigeria, promising to champion the cause of constitution review, particularly as regards policing and indigeneship.
“We have plans to deal with the rising insecurity in Nigeria. We would start with opening more opportunities for more people to get recruited into the police force for the meantime, and go for constitution amendments to allow for the establishment of state police. We can even get up to local government police.
“We have the urgent need for judicial reforms beginning with renumeration/welfare package. We will attempt to have a judiciary that will improve the dispensation of justice. At the moment, we have inadequate and very disappointing judicial system.”
He assured women that they would have improved opportunities to serve in different capacities, in accordance with different declarations that made case for more women participation in political and socioeconomic leadership.
He encouraged the citizens to demand accountability from people saddled with the responsibilities of managing the resources, and not sit on the fence and lament when they can do something to salvage the situation.
CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, in his welcome remarks, said the interaction was to collectively review the understanding of the Nigerian crisis of development and governance and find a lasting solution.
He said CAN had consulted with Nigerians of diverse religious, ethnic and social identities on the problems of Nigeria.
The solutions to the problems have been articulated in the association’s strategic document called: “Charter for Future Nigeria.’’
“The Charter begins with a diagnosis of Nigeria’s problem and locates it primarily in an incoherent Constitutional and institutional framework that defines governance and social and economic interactions.
“In this interaction, we will present the highpoints of this strategic document and listen to your response to the issues they raise.
“Our interest is that all candidates clearly understand the concerns of Nigerian Christians and propose policies and programmes to address those concerns.
“We believe that with this kind of respectful and sincere conversation we will find lasting solutions to these crises,’’ Okoh noted.