THE TIME IS RIPE
Full text of a Speech
DR OGBONNAYA ONU
National Chairman, All Nigeria Peoples Party
Inauguration of the National Rebuilding and Inter Party Contact Committee at the National Working Committee Room of the National Secretariat
On Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Your Excellencies, most distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Nigerians are yearning for change. I can see our great party, the ANPP, leading that change if we do the right thing. We must always remember that God helps those who help themselves and that success comes to those who dare to act. The time to plan is now. The time to find out what we must do to make our great Party greater and more attractive is now. The reasons are compelling. The environment is conducive. The time is ripe. The harvest is bountiful. The people are waiting.
For the past thirteen years, the price of crude oil in the international market has remained high. For a very long period, one barrel of crude oil sold for more than a hundred dollars. We cannot easily forget that about fourteen years ago, by 1998/1999, when Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar served as military Head of State, one barrel of crude oil fetched as low as nine dollars and even less.
Our national treasury has received, in the past thirteen years, more money than it had in the forty years before then. Yet the level of poverty has continued to increase and worsen. By government statistics, two out of every three Nigerians are poor. What a shame!
In the past thirteen years, our factories have continued to shut down. Day after day, the gates to our factories are locked while the factories are relocated to neighbouring countries. This has worsened our unemployment problems as many of our young people roam the streets looking for non-existing jobs.
For the past thirteen years, the decay in our infrastructure has reached very disturbing and alarming levels such that our children now look for schools for their education in not only Europe and North America, but also in our neighbouring countries. Our sick people can no longer receive adequate medical attention at home and hence they have to travel in large numbers to see doctors in hospitals in foreign lands.
The past thirteen years would have been a long enough period to prepare for the Olympics. In the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Nigeria won two gold medals in long jump and football. We also won a silver medal in the Women’s 4×400 meters relay; three bronze medals in the Women’s 400 meters, 200 meters and men’s super heavyweight boxing competition. For the past thirteen years, our fortune in sports has so declined such that at the 2012 London Olympic Games, the 51 – man Team Nigeria returned empty handed without even a single medal.
In the past thirteen years, impunity in governance and abuse of office have reached very disturbing levels as pension funds, subsidy payments, etc have been grossly abused. Our newspapers and news magazines are filled up with shocking revelations including how our commonwealth has been abused to the detriment of the common good.
For the past thirteen years, those who lead have not been able to perform their most important and primary duty of securing the lives of our citizens. Bombs, guns and knives have struck fear and tried to strangulate the people. More than ever before, people now move in very large numbers away from the places of their birth, places where they had lived and would have loved to continue to live in but had to move away because of insecurity.
Those who escaped the bombs, guns and knives have fallen victim to the cruel hands of kidnappers. Vice Chancellors, retired military officers, priests, traditional rulers, professionals, businessmen and women have not been spared. The high level of insecurity in the country is such that no one anymore even mentions armed robbery attacks either on our roads or in our homes.
For the past thirteen years, our dear country has neither had peace nor prosperity. Our unity as one people with one destiny in one nation under God, has never for a very long time been as threatened as it is now. The stability of our nation, the very foundation of our great country, has never been as shaken as it is currently the situation. This should not be so.
Nigeria needs change. Nigerians are eagerly waiting for change. The All Nigeria Peoples Party, our great political Party, must work tirelessly to help our people have this desired change for the good of all.
Our Party is ready. Our Party is focused. Our Party is on the move. Our Party is moving in the right direction. Our Party has stabilised after the decline of the previous years. However, our Party needs to grow faster than we are currently doing. We need to bring in more and more members. More hands must be put at work for us to effectively and efficiently take care of the harvest that by God’s grace will be ours.
We need to rebuild our Party. Rebuilding a party is not an easy job. Rebuilding a party is a continuous process. It is indeed work in progress. We will never get tired, until success is ours by the grace of the Almighty God. We need to work closely with other opposition political parties. When we find those who have a similar interest and same national view with us, we should move out and quickly embrace them. A merger would be ideal. It is when this is not feasible, that other options can be considered. We have enough time to achieve our goal.
Shortly after we assumed office in late 2010, I requested and met with the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, here in Abuja. That meeting triggered off a series of events involving the two political parties. Later, this was expanded to include two other political parties: the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and the Social Democratic Mega Party, SDMP. Even though we did not realise our initial objective, but we learnt a lot and had a better understanding of the important issues involved in the process of wanting to work together for the good of our country.
One problem we all agreed worked against us, was that we started very close to the general election. By that time, people had virtually made up their minds. Seeking a common ground, became very difficult.
Learning from that experience, as soon as election petitions before tribunals and appeal courts were disposed of, I quickly wrote to the National Chairmen of major opposition political parties urging that we start working together to understand ourselves better and more importantly to start early to build trust among ourselves. I am happy with the progress we have made so far.
I have travelled widely, across the country, to meet with many important political actors to help forge this desired new understanding among the major opposition political parties with the aim of forming a political platform on which the change desired by Nigerians can be anchored. I have written letters to our founding leaders, urging them to show interest in the care of the house they helped to build. I am happy that the response is encouraging.
The time has come for a committee, made up of some of the very best we have, to be engaged in this very important assignment. We have made serious efforts to ensure that all major segments of our Party are represented in this important committee. In the course of the work of the committee, every effort should be made to work as one united body so as to take advantage of the varied experience of all members.
The committee should work with the following terms of reference:-
- To generally look at the party and recommend ways to make it more attractive, particularly on ways to get party leaders to show more interest in participating in party functions and programmes held in States not controlled by us.
- To exhaustively discuss the issue of party funding and make recommendations on how the party can be effectively funded.
- To identify party leaders who either left the party to join other political parties or have remained without joining any other political parties with a view to bringing them back to the party.
- To identify key political actors across the country with a view to getting them to join us.
- To carry out a nation-wide survey of our party across the country as a way to identify the zonal, State and local government party offices where they exist.
- To enter into merger/alliance discussions with other opposition political parties as well as organisations and civil society groups as a way of preparing for better performance in future elections.
- To submit a final report to the national leadership of the party in six months time.
Your Excellencies, most distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is required that every two months, this committee, the National Rebuilding and Inter Party Contact Committee will submit periodic interim reports to the national leadership of the Party to let us know the progress you are making. We expect that you will put in your very best efforts into this important assignment to help put our great Party at the centre of political activity in the country and for the good of our dear nation.
As you go into the field you will find out that the leadership of our great Party has already done a lot of work that will be very useful to you. Go out and build on this. I am confident that by the grace of Almighty God and you working as hard as you can, success will be ours.
It is therefore with happiness that I on behalf of our great Party inaugurate the National Rebuilding and Inter Party Contact Committee of our great Party. I cannot fail to remind us that it may lead to death if a disease afflicts you and you do nothing about it. It is better for us to be remembered as a people who came, met problems and decided not to pretend that the problems exist, but rather to face the problems squarely by working hard to find the appropriate and enduring solutions. History will be kind to us. Future generations will remember us. Our children will be happy with us. We should never be afraid of trying, because it is only by trying that success can come. I wish you God’s grace and blessings as you carry out this assignment.
May God bless the All Nigeria Peoples Party and also bless our dear country, Nigeria. I thank you so much.