Ayu: PDP Under Obasanjo Inherited a Pariah Nation, But Turned the Tide

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•Accuses APC of destroying, making Nigeria world’s poverty capital

•It’s too frightening to contemplate another four years of ruling party, says Tambuwal

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

National Chairman-designate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday, reminded Nigerians that the party inherited the last years of military rule, which was unstable, crisis-ridden, debt-ridden and shunned by the rest of the civilised world as a pariah state, but turned the tide around through the quality leadership provided by one of its presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ayu, who spoke at the party’s two-day retreat for the newly elected members of the National Working Committee (NWC) in Abuja, however, claimed that from being the biggest economy on the continent under the PDP government, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, has destroyed the country and turned Nigeria into the headquarters of poverty in the world.

Also, speaking at the retreat, the Sokoto State Governor and chairman of the PDPGovernors’ Forum, said, it was too frightening to contemplate another four years of the APC administration, given the current state of the nation.

However, Ayu, who believed the PDP could repeat such feats, even though it was convenient for many people to forget those years, said, “No other party in this country is better equipped and placed to rescue and rebuild this country than the PDP. We did it before. While memories may be short sometimes, most of us still remember the last years of military rule in Nigeria and the unstable, crisis-ridden and debt-ridden country that PDP inherited; a country shunned by the rest of the civilised world, a pariah state.

“However, within a few short years, the PDP government led by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo reversed the economic collapse, stabilised the exchange and interest rates, made strides in the provision of infrastructure, secured us relief from foreign creditors, and restored faith in our country both by its citizens and foreign investors.

“Many of our citizens in the diaspora returned and set up businesses here or contributed in other ways. Foreign investors trooped in. Abuja and other cities transformed from sites of abandoned projects to thriving construction sites and livable cities.

“Do we remember what our telephone system was like before the PDP government gave us GSM? From the biggest economy on the Continent the APC administration destroyed the country and turned Nigeria into the headquarters of Poverty in the world.

“My friends, we can do this again. However, we have to do the first things first. Nigerians are not going to vote for us just because we had done well before. People do not vote for the past but for the present and the future. We have to demonstrate that we can do better than the current APC government. But we must start with putting our own house in order.

Insisting the PDP must offer a credible alternative to rebuild Nigeria, Ayu said, “We must offer a clear, workable alternative to rebuild our country. Just recently, the US Council on foreign relations published a study by two experts, which said Nigeria is already a failed state, that has reached a point of no return and would collapse.

“That is where the APC government has brought us to. We need not waste our energy arguing whether the American researchers are right or not. Rather, we should focus our energies, imagination and creativity towards ensuring that their prognosis does not come to pass. We must work to reverse that march towards collapse.”

He explained that it was why the theme of the retreat was very apt, saying, “Surely Nigeria needs rescuing and rebuilding. The damage done by the APC is pretty obvious – insecurity everywhere, including shared sovereignty with criminal and terrorist gangs, a collapsed economy with a comatose manufacturing sector, soaring prices, naira near worthless, interest rates very high, with the Central Bank of Nigeria picking and choosing winners and losers and virtually running a parallel government, (which even leaves the Vice President confused), collapsed infrastructure, terrorist sympathisers in government, and confusion everywhere, as Fela would say.

“Think about this for a moment: at no point did the elites or leaders of the countries that collapsed come together and agree to collapse their countries. No, they never did. Rather, it is a combination and cumulation of words and actions by individuals and groups that led to their collapse.

“We are a big tent, indeed a big umbrella. Yes, within the party we have different tendencies, worldviews and lived experiences. But our overriding interest should be Nigeria. To bring it back from the brink. To make it better. To present Nigeria to the world again as a country of serious, competent and committed people. When we rebuild it, we will all benefit,” he said.

He, therefore, urged members to, “Let us put behind us the quarrels of yesteryears. Let us not fight yesterday’s wars but instead recognise the APC as the real obstacle and danger to Nigeria’s progress as a developed, united and forward-looking country. Let us, therefore, direct our energies towards defeating that party and implementing a programme of rebirth, growth and opportunity for our country.”

On his part, Tambuwal, who was worried about another four years of the APC, said, “Nigeria must embrace restructuring to survive. It must restructure its polity, economy, security and ways of doing things. It must embrace relative autonomy and decentralisation of power. This will unleash the energies of our people, especially, the young. It is time to allow Nigeria blossom. It is doable with all hands on deck,” he said.

Continuing, he asked: “Can Nigeria survive another 4 years of APC? The answer is a resounding No. It is too frightening to contemplate,” adding that, the PDP remained the only credible alternative to APC and the opposition party could not afford to fail Nigerians.

“We must keep hope alive. We can do it. Yes, we can, as Obama would say,” he said, explain that a revitalised PDP would be true to the words of the national anthem, “To build a nation, where peace and justice shall reign.”

Tambawul explained that, Nigeria must embrace innovation and technology as a way of life, explaining that technology would solve the youth unemployment time tomb.

“Technology will improve our agriculture, health, industralisation, education and indeed, it has implications and impacts on all facets of our lives. It is in this respect that we continue to condemn the twitter ban as a retrogressive action that should never have happened.”

The Sokoto governor noted that, the retreat came on the heels of the highly acclaimed successful 2021 PDP National Convention and that it was a time to think, plan, ponder and strategise on the way forward.

Quoting Benjamin Frankin, Tambawul said, “By failing to (plan) and prepare, you are preparing to fail. It shows unmistakably that the PDP is back. PDP is ready. PDP is poised to write a new positive chapter for Nigeria; a new Nigeria.

“A rickety vehicle cannot take Nigeria to its destination as the nation with possibilities for greatness and progress. PDP is now once again a well-oiled, serviced vehicle that will midwife the Nigeria of our dreams. It is indeed time to rescue and rebuild Nigeria. Nigeria is in an urgent need for a surgical operation. Nigeria is in a permanent emergency.

“We all know what the problems are. They are man-made. And is therefore resolvable. It requires a focused, determined, knowledgeable and patriotic organisation of like-minds to build the critical mass necessary for a great leap forward. Yes, it requires leadership, with vision and discipline.

“We suffer from a crisis of Governance. The unity of Nigeria is facing unprecedented challenges. Life in Nigeria is increasingly becoming brutish and short as insecurity ravages the land. Poverty is the forte of the ordinary Nigerian. The health and education of our people have not improved. Our people are in want. The economy is in dire straits with the exchange rate now about N540 to a Dollar from the N150 to a Dollar when PDP left office. Prices of food stuff and essential commodities are unsustainable. Clearly beyond the reach of the average Nigerian.

“Corruption still stalks the land. Nepotism, ethnic and religious bigotry reign supreme in today’s APC’s Nigeria. Our infrastructure is still comatose. Trust and hope in Nigeria is at its lowest. Our lamentations can go on, ad infinitum. But the test of leadership is the ability to solve problems. What solutions will PDP offer? What is the way forward?

“Well, this is why we have gathered here, to brainstorm and offer policy options for Nigeria. We cannot only criticise, we must provide workable solutions and clear policy alternatives. This will be presented to the Nigerian people. A sharp contrast must be drawn with the ruling incompetent and rudderless APC administration,” he lamented.