agos State Governor Babatunde Fashola lashed out yesterday at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government, saying it has failed Nigerians.
Delivering the former Bayelsa State Governor, Timipre Sylvia’s birthday lecture in Abuja, Fashola said that Nigerians are worse off than they were four years ago before the present administration came into office.
In the lecture titled “The challenge of democratic governance”, Fashola noted that the present administration continued to lie to Nigerians on many issues, including the abduction of over 200 Chibok girls and the alleged missing money from the Federation account.
According to him, the election of a university graduate as president has not helped to develop the country in the past three years.
He pointed out that states controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC) are performing better than the PDP-controlled states.
The governor urged Nigerians to vote out the PDP in the 2015 election.
But the Presidency faulted the position of the Lagos State governor on poor performance of the Jonathan administration.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, described Fashola’s statement as “blatant and obvious lies, delibrate and skillful misinformation.
“Nothing can be further from the truth than this. We admit that Governor Fashola may have been too occupied in Lagos and that may have narrowed his vision or precluded him from appreciating lofty developments by this administration all over the country.
“The government of President Goodluck Jonathan, has never lied about its achievements, programmes, commitments and even challenges within the Nigerian context.
“In the last three years, through the execution of its transformation agenda, this administration, contrary to the assertions of Governor Fashola, has made significant achievements in all sectors of the economy.”
In the lecture, Fashola spoke on political parties, party ideology, people and members of the party, and leadership of government amoung other sub topics.
He said: “Until recently, we all used to think that our national development was inhibited by the fact that we never had a university graduate as leader of any national government in an executive càpacity.
“We now have two graduates, a zoologist and an architect, at the helm of our national affairs, and I think majority of Nigerians will tell you today that their lives are worse off today than they were four years ago.”
According to him, there is more to leadership than university degree.
“There are needs for more attributes that you can’t find in a classroom or in a school.” He added
He said he found it strange for the government to invite parents of the abducted Chibok girls to Presidential Villa for commiseration, which he said was un-African.
“The event has been followed by other round of liès. The abduction of the girls have been enmeshed in lies. They have also lied about the economy, within the same household, within the central bank and the federal ministry of finance, we had very clear difference, whether $48 billion or $20 billion.
“The ideas of the freedom to think, to sleep and to ask questions is too valuable for me to exchange for development under an autocratic or democratic government.
“If the only options left for me to chose were between freedom and development, I for one will rather surrender development than freedom. So, I worry when I hear some people say today that it is part of their achievement that they allow us to express ourselves. I think that is utter rubbish.
“I am really convinced beyond doubt that democracy can still deliver development.
On political parties, he said: “If we must achieve development in democracy, the vehicle of politics, the political parties must first be developed as first class institutions. The first thing to seek is the idea behind governance and this is often contained in the programme of political parties.”
He said there is clear identified difference between the APC and PDP.
He said: “If you look at the level of progress and development in the states govern by the old and new opposition parties and government, there is a clear daylight in terms of development.”
“For example, it is no coincidence that only two states, Lagos and Rivers, governed now by APC governors are executing rail projects on their own mass transit.”
“The party in government has lied about when there will be stable electricity for 16 years. An APC state, Lagos has led the way, in showing what is possible. There is power initiative in Egbin, Akute, Lagos Island, Alausa, Ikeja and Lekki to be delivered later this year.”
“The party in power decides to continue importing fuel with the attendant disruptions and monumental …, Lagos believes that in a partnership, it is possible, if you provide land, for Nigerians to produce enough petroleum products for consumption and still export within a four year period.”
He said: “They have lied on security. The first thing they said was that those who are undermining security were in government. Now the story has changed, they say it is the opposition. This is not quite the same thing as bringing down the country because government can be removed by legitimate and constitutional means, that is the ballot box.”.
Stressing that the manifestos of political parties across the globe change from elections to elections and need not be cast on stones, he said that there is misunderstanding between endorsement of a candidate and god-fatherism by the ruling party.
According to him, democracy is a participatory government where everyone have a say whether he or she voted or not.
Making a remark, Sylva warned of impending danger towards the 2015 general elections, maintaining that the present administration failed to tackle security challenges, poverty and corruption.
He said terrorism has taken over the northern part of the country, Ebola virus disease ravaging in the West, kidnapping business flourishing in the south while kidnapping headquarters has remained in Anambra, Eastern part of the country.
He said: “As confused as I am, nobody knows what is happening in this country. If over 200 girls have been abducted and could not be located, how could they locate one man?”
“When we talk about 2015 and people take it lightly, I wonder because there is a real danger. Nobody has thought it wise to commiserate with the people on the abduction of Chibok girls.”
“2015 is very serious. The issue of security, are they in a position now to resolve the issue of security confronting us now. They have proven beyond reasonable doubt that they cannot.”
On corruption, he said: “Can they tackle corruption except pursuing people who are not in their good book.”
“When you say you are ready to follow them, all charges against you are withdrawn. If I say I will support you, then I will not be corrupt again. What kind of government is that? He queried.
He also said that the government has no idea of tackling the poverty in the land.
On Sylva, who stepped down for him to emerge as the National Chairman, he said: “The minute he decided to throw his weight behind me, he has never looked back. He has been one of my greatest assets since I assumed office.”
Former Head of State Gen. Muhammed Buhari said Fashola’s lecture was well researched.
“I congratulate Sylva for mobilising who and who in the APC to his birthday.”
He also congratulated Nasarawa State lawmakers for stopping the manipulated moves to impeach Governor Tanko Al-makura. The Chairman of the occasion, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Uwais, said he was not qualified to speak on Fashola’s lecture as he is not a politician.
He said: “A lot of it is political and I am not a politician. And I don’t consider myself qualified to comment on the paper. But I am sure that the paper will serve a useful reference point for all those who are concerned with democratic leadership of this country. I congratulate his excellency for a well-researched paper.”
Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi said: “I thank his Excellency for such a brilliant lecture on democracy.”
On Sylva, he said: “I am here to really celebrate leadership, the sacrifices he has made in spite of his persecution. His best is yet to come.”
Reading the profile of the celebrator, The Chairman Editorial Board of The Nation, Mr Sam Omatseye said: “You can attack him, and he will be angry but he will not bear malice. That is Timipre the friend. The one who is hearty, fearless in comment, sensitive to criticism but generous nonetheless in putting it in perspective.
“But the greatest assets about him is his simplicity, sometimes close to naivety. He is the sort of person who needs those who love him more than those who want to take advantage of him.” He said
Among the dignitaries at the occasion were former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senator Bukola Saraki, former Speaker of House of Representatives, Bello Masari, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir el-Rufai.
Others are former Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, Audu Ogbe, Senator Olorunmibe Mamora, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
Former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni and Senator Chris Ngige.