Presidential townhall meeting: Tinubu absent, Okowa, Kwankwaso, Obi, Abiola proffer solution to insecurity

Some presidential candidates Sunday proffered solutions to Nigeria’s security challenge as they unanimously agreed there is need for coordinated intelligence gathering.

They spoke at the town hall meeting organised by Arise Television in collaboration with a civil society organisation – the Centre for Democracy and Development – monitored by Blueprint in Abuja.

At the meeting were presidential candidates of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi; New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso; the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Kola Abiola; and the running mate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state.

Neither Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), nor his running mate, Kashim Shettima, was in attendance at the meeting comprising some high-flying professionals and experts from all fields of human endeavours.

There was an initial protest over the participation of Okowa who represented the PDP presidential candidate, his principal, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

“We want only presidential candidates here,” chorused some members of the audience who insisted the Delta state governor should be shown the way out.

Looking unperturbed, however, Okowa turned to the aggrieved ones in the  audience, saying “the presidential ticket is one”,  with the angry youth rejecting his position with a loud NO!

However, there was calm after the moderator called the house to order, and the presidential debate, earlier  slated for 7:30pm at Arise TV Town Hall, did not take off until 8am.

Taking turns to speak to the audience, the candidates agreed that competence and not religion or tribe, would be a better guide for the job of an elected president.

They also agreed that coordinated intelligence among security agencies and devolving the police force to states and local government levels, as well as improved welfare packages, would help stem the tide of insecurity in the country. 

The candidates also agreed to increase the number of personnel in the security agencies.

In his view, Obi said: “There are failures of intelligence gathering.”

Taking his turn, Okowa said: “Until there is development of human capital in the education and health sector, we may not get things right.”

Abiola said: “We should make things work the way it should work. There is shortfall in security personnel.”

Kwankwanso said: “Security situation would not have arisen if adequate arrangement is made for the military, Air Force and the Navy.”

On proper coordination at the presidency, Senator Okowa said the presidency must work as one, while Obi said as President and the Commander-in-Chief, he would also delegate functions to the vice-president in addition to functions  the Constitution assigns him.

On subsidy, the LP standard bearer said if elected into office, he would do away with fuel subsidy.

He said the money saved from subsidy removal would be channeled into providing critical infrastructure. 

Abiola said he would ensure that the federal government builds “an economy that is production-driven and not consumption-driven. The security situation is putting pressures on the economy.” 

Tinubu tackles Atiku

Meanwhile, Asiwaju Tinubu has said he is far ahead of his PDP counterpart, former Vice President Abubkar both mentally and physically.

He also said the former VP’s reference to former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a statesman amounted to playing politics and not a genuine love for the former leader.

Tinubu said this through the Director, Special Media Projects and New Media, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in a statement Sunday in Abuja.

Fani-Kayode also claimed unlike the former nation’s number two man, Tinubu has nothing to hide, no skeletons in his cupboard and “he(Tinubu) is pure in body, spirit and soul.”

The former aviation minister who said Tinubu was fit and healthy than Atiku, also wondered how the ex-VP could call Obasanjo a statesman.

 He said: “This is the same man that is now calling OBJ a statesman and is saying he deserves a Nobel Prize and that his face should be on the naira.

“Atiku is lying. He does not mean a word of it. He is offering a Greek gift. He is playing politics. 

“Deep down he hates OBJ with a passion and he has always done because the President outfoxed and outpunched him at every turn when he attempted his treacherous move to usurp him and take his place as President.”

“No matter what you say about Asiwaju Tinubu has never betrayed those that helped him to power. He is loyal to his own to a fault whilst Atiku does not know the meaning of the word,” he said.

According to him, “Atiku cannot come anywhere near Asiwaju in terms of his mental or physical virility or acumen.  Whether mentally, physically or spiritually, Atiku is very far far behind,” Fani-Kayode said.  

“A man that cannot hold his own party together wants to be President. A man that cannot empathise with the suffering of the people and that gloats when people are suffering and when there is turmoil in the land cannot be trusted with power. 

“A man that is trying to give the impression that he was part and parcel of Obasanjo’s success as President when in actual fact he was trying to frustrate that Government’s efforts to improve the lives of our people is nothing less than treacherous and deceitful and he cannot be trusted with power.

“May God deliver our nation from the clutches of such a creature. Even Peter Obi has far more to offer than him. 

 “Atiku and his camp know that Jagaban will win this election hands down and as each day passes, it is getting clearer. That is why they are so jittery. That is why they resort to nothing but falsehood, insults and abuse. 

“That is why the only thing they talk about is Jagaban’s health and age. We want a campaign that centres on issues but Atiku and his men friends do not even know the meaning of the word.”

Ohanaeze counsels Tinubu

In a related development, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has told the APC standard bearer to adhere to the advice of Pa Ayo Adebanjo-led-Afenifere and work with Obi, the LP presidential candidate. 

Adebanjo who was absent at the endorsement of Tinubu by Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, and several South West leaders maintain that power should go to South-east.

Adebanjo was quoted in the media to have insisted on support for a South-east presidency, stating that Afenifere is not a cultural organisation for the Yorubas.

“I will continue to repeat emphatically that Afenifere is the Yoruba interpretation for the Action Group led by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who is the champion of federalism in Nigeria,” Adebanjo had said.

While Ohanaeze advised Tinubu to listen to Adebanjo, the group in a statement by the Secretary-General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, extended open arms to the APC presidential candidate to campaign in the region.

The statement reads: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide salutes the doggedness and courage of the APC presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu over the years and as he flags off his political campaigns in the southeast on Monday, 7th November 2022 at Anambra and Imo states.

“In line with Igbo tradition of giving open arms to our esteemed visitors, Ndigbo will receive the APC candidate to come and do his campaign without any problems irrespective of whether there is Sit At Home on Monday or not “.

“IPOB and MASSOB have continued to give assurances that everyone is free to come to the southeast without fear of coercion and intimidation since they are not interested in Political activities and events across the country.

“With the assurance of peace and security, this will be one of those rare opportunities to demonstrate that the southeast is the home of peace, and the APC Presidential candidate will be received and welcomed warmly and be given all necessary Igbo support for him to campaign and tell Ndigbo his plans for southeast”.

“Ndigbo believes that there should be political Justice and Equity in Nigeria, and there should be a southerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari by May 2023. 

“We are aware of efforts of S/east detractors and corrupt politicians to mortgage the conscience of Ndigbo over a pot of porridge yam and endorse a particular presidential candidate in exchange for monetary consideration which is not In our characters and alien to Igbo’s integrity.

“This is an open opportunity to access everyone and cross-check facts and figures with the sad realities in Nigeria nowadays “.

“Ndigbo will engage with APC Presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu to listen to the Pa Ayo Adebanjo-led Afenifere leadership and consider the interests of Nigerians above his interests, and support a popular choice for a better Nigeria, and Peter Obi will make Nigeria great again.”

About Duro Joseph/Emeka Nze/Benjamin Umuteme/Bode Olagoke, Abuja and Amarachukwu Egwu-Agha, Abakaliki

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