Presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and Vice Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Kashim Shettima, on Monday maintained different positions on the 2023 general election, with the duo of Atiku and Obi flaying the Federal Government over insecurity and economic crisis confronting the country.
The trio, who spoke at the 62 annual General Conference of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) however noted that 2023 election is a decisive year, noting that the election is critical to the country’s existence.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, renowned author, Chimamanda Adichie and other speakers advocated the reform of the Nigerian judiciary in order to position the country on the path of transformational change.
In his remarks, Atiku observed that the country is more disunited today than it had ever been since democracy took root in 1999, noting that Nigeria had never found itself in such a very critical situation in its history.
Speaking on the theme: ’Bold transitions in the 21st century as far as our country is concerned,’ the former Vice President said Nigeria had all the negative indices of a failed nation, adding that the nation had never experienced the current level of poverty, insecurity and unemployment.
He stated, “Since the return of democracy in 1998/99, Nigeria has never found itself in such a very very critical point in our history.
“Today, we have had all the negative indices. Today, we are all disunited in the nation. We have never experienced this level of poverty. We have never experienced this state of insecurity. We have never experienced this level of unemployment. We have recognised all these negative development in our history.”
“This is where history and experience beckon to us that we don’t get it wrong at this point in time. If we get it wrong, I don’t know when we will get it right,’’ he noted.
He stated, ‘’One of the fundamental reforms I have in my policy document is to encourage the private sector as far as the development of the country is concerned — both foreign and local. It is very essential because the federal government does not have the resources to do all the things that they want to do,” he said.
Shedding more light on his plans, he stated, “The only way is to make sure that a conducive environment is available for the local and foreign investors to participate in the development of our country, whether it is infrastructure, education and healthcare.
“I had an argument with a university professor from Federal University, Lokoja. He said he read in my policy document that I intend to devolve, in other words, to return education to the states. How dare I do that?
‘’I said: ‘Mr professor, do you realise that the first set of our universities belongs to the regional governments?’ He said, ‘yes’. I said ‘who are the successors of the regional government?’ He said: ‘the states’.
“I said the children you send to America or England; who owns those universities? Mostly, the private sector. So, why is it that you think we cannot do it here? We don’t have the money.”
The Labour Party presidential candidate, Obi in his remarks said ‘’the election will not be about tribe, religion, connection, entitlement, but it must be about competence capacity and commitment to deliver.”
Obi said that Nigeria needs urgent transition from being a highly insecure country to a secured one and from a disunited country to a united one.
He added, “Nigeria has qualified to be a failed state. We have the two or three biggest characteristics of a failed state. One is when you are no longer in charge of your territory.
“Today, we are among the top terrorised countries in the world; we are among the top kidnapping countries in the world. Banditry has taken over part of the country and Nigerians are being killed.”
He called on Nigerians to elect the candidate with the capacity to rescue the nation from its current mess.
“Nigeria is in a mess. We got here simply because of the accumulative effects of bad leadership. The coming election is not about tribe or religion but about character and competence. We need a bold transition from a highly insecure state to a highly secured state,’’ he noted.
The APC Vice presidential Candidate, Shettima pointed out that his principal would replicate at the federal level the feats he recorded in Lagos when he was the governor.
Shettima said they would hit the ground running if elected into office in 2023.
In his speech entitled, ‘Democratic Transitions In 21st Century Nigeria: 2023 and Beyond,’’ the APC vice-presidential candidate stressed that Tinubu is the man to beat because of his skill-set.
“I aligned with the APC candidate because of his competence and performance,’’ he added.