- Lalong confirms ambassadorial list was drawn up without consultation, president to review list
- Tallen, Bugaje turn down nominations
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja with agency report
After months of blaming the ousted Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government for Nigeria’s economic woes, the All Progressives Congress (APC)monday finally accepted responsibility for the dire economic situation in the country.
The Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum and Imo State Governor, Rochas Okokorocha, who spoke after the governors of the ruling APC met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, however, said the party was also determined to fix the problems.
Owing to the government’s refusal to accept responsibility for the economic recession, the president had come under heavy criticism for always blaming the economic problems in the country on past administrations.
But Okorocha yesterday said: “We are only trying to clear the mess of the past. But we must take responsibility and we must never shift the responsibility to anyone.
“As APC, we are responsible for everything happening in Nigeria, we are responsible: the good, the bad, the ugly. But we are promising Nigerians that we shall fix it.”
When asked to provide more insight on what was discussed on the floundering economy, Okorocha said: “There is no surgery that is not painful. Nigeria is going through a very serious economic surgery and that is the pain we are experiencing.
“We share the pains of Nigerians, every human being must feel it. We also feel what they are going through, but we are asking for a little patience, let us do things the right way and do it once and for all.
“I am sure that by next year you will begin to see changes. The price of rice will drop, price of the dollar will begin to stabilise and we will see a lot of changes.
“But at this painful moment, nobody likes it. It is like a woman in the labour room, when she is in the labour room there is no joy, but she has to pass through that moment and in that moment she doesn’t wear her high heel shoes, no makeup, no champagne, no party because she is going through a process. But shortly after that process, joy cometh once she sees the child.”
On this basis, he appealed to Nigerians to bear with the government.
However, Okorocha said that the economic hardship was not a problem brought by APC government. Instead, he said it was a problem that existed long before APC came to government.
He said the governors came to encourage the president and congratulate him for securing the release of the 21 Chibok girls.
The governor also said his colleagues advised the president not to relent in securing the release of the remaining schoolgirls still in captivity.
He added: “Also, we came to report to Mr. President that his agriculture policy is producing results, because this time around, we will have a bumper harvest in most parts of the country in rice production and other things, so that policy should be sustained.
“And the funding policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme should be encouraged because it is yielding results.
“In the next couple of years, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in agriculture and would not need to import any more food into this country. That is a great achievement.”
Okorocha said the governors also urged the president to go on with the fight against corruption.
He said the governors understood that in the pursuit of good programmes, certain lapses would be noticed, but said that such lapses should not stop him from pursuing a good cause.
“We encouraged and thanked him for the efforts he is making to move this country forward,” he added.
He also revealed that the governors and the president also discussed the Ondo State governorship election.
“We are happy that we have delivered the first state under his administration which is Edo but in Ondo, the governors have decided to show support for that election so that APC will take over the government of Ondo State,” he said.
On if the controversy surrounding the party’s nomination in Ondo State would not affect the party’s chances during the election, Okorocha said: “I agree with you to some extent, but I believe before the election all things will be fixed, because Ondo is coming back to APC and we would do all we can to make that happen.”
However, Okorocha said the governors did not discuss the lingering face-off between the judiciary and the Department of State Services (DSS).
He also revealed that the issue of asking the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to resign did not arise during the meeting with the president.
According to him, “We are not talking about anybody resigning. We are talking about rebuilding the party to make it a stronger party, right from the booth level to the national level.
“Let me say to you, the chairman of the party and the party itself are having friction, yet could be said to have done well. We come from a party that nobody expected will ever win this election.
“So we need to give them kudos and if there are areas that need adjustments we must do that.” Asked what was the reaction of the president to their visit, Okorocha said Buhari was very quiet but appreciated the support the governors had come to show him.
He said: “The president was quite happy, but said he appreciated our support for him and we are looking forward to how we can work together to strengthen the economy and the party.”
Also speaking, the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, explained why the former deputy governor of the state, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, rejected her ambassadorial appointment.
He also confirmed THISDAY’s report yesterday that some of the governors had issues with the ambassadorial nominations from the president.
He said: “Pauline is an astute politician from my state, and part of the issue we also raised was on some of the appointments that were made. So all the states that had complaints are going to put them in writing and the president promised he is going to look into them.”
Asked if the excuse given by Tallen for rejecting the appointment was convincing enough (she had cited her husband’s ill-health for rejecting the nomination), Lalong said: “Well, it is not only about her husband, I think there is the dimension of Plateau politics, because I had already made complaints to Mr. President that appointments should not be concentrated in one zone.
“And so all these appointments came again from one zone. So the complaints that are coming from our state are not about her own personal interest, it is the fact that two ambassadorial appointments are coming from the same zone that we had complained about, and that is my zone.
“We had asked that the next appointment should go to the other zones – the central and the northern zones. So when that nomination was announced, the kind of uproar that followed it necessitated the intervention.
“And I think as a mature politician, she stepped down and sacrificed that for the people of Plateau. We are still working on a replacement for that. It is not a big issue, but sometimes a little consultation would have solved that problem because these are issues in the interest of the state.
“So you cannot have two appointments, very key appointments like that coming from a particular zone that is already overloaded with appointments. All the federal appointments are from the southern zone, so it would not be fair. So it is the issue of fairness on which we approached Mr. President.”
Tallen Explains Why She Rejected Nomination
Earlier yesterday, Tallen announced that she had turned down her ambassadorial nomination in order to be fair to other parts of the state in terms of federal appointments, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Confirming THISDAY’s report monday on the rising disenchantment in the APC over the names of ambassadorial nominees sent by Buhari last week to the Senate, Tallen, a former Minister of Science and Technology and Labour Party governorship candidate in Plateau in 2011, made this known in Abuja.
“I hail from the same local government and tribe with Governor Simon Lalong. I turned down the nomination because of balancing of appointments, I don’t think it is right for me to accept the appointment.
“Secondly, proper consultation was not done. My governor was not consulted because I called him when he was in the United States to ask, he said that he was not aware.
“For me, I was consulted and I turned down the appointment even before the announcement was made,” further revealing that her husband’s ill-health is another reason why she cannot accept the appointment.
Tallen said that the president gave her another option and assured her that Plateau would not miss its two slots.
The former deputy governor, who thanked Buhari for the honour, said her name was supposed to have been removed from the list of nominees, but was surprised when the announcement was made and her name was still on it.
Other than Tallen, Alhaji Usman Bugaje from Kastina State also turned down his nomination by the president, reported online news medium, The Cable.