2023: Atiku, Obi, Adebayo meet CAN, unfold restructuring, security agenda, others - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

2023: Atiku, Obi, Adebayo meet CAN, unfold restructuring, security agenda, others

By Editor

The Presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, and their Social Democratic Party counterpart, Adewole Adebayo, on Tuesday, met with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, to discuss issues of concern to Christians in the country ahead of the 2023 elections.

The three candidates also unfolded their agenda on restructuring, insecurity, economy, power and corruption.

While Atiku shared how he planned to address the age-old issue of restructuring and devolution of power to the federating units, if elected in the 2023 election, Obi highlighted his vision for the economy and wealth creation, and Adebayo said he would priorities food security, housing, education and infrastructure development. 

The three candidates spoke as the CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, maintained that the apex Christian body had not agreed to rescind its decision to take exception to same-faith presidential ticket. 

CAN, however, presented an 11-point demand titled, 'Charter for Future Nigeria' to the presidential candidates which outlines key areas of interest for the good of the common man.

The religious body also added that a holistic amendment of the 1999 Constitution was a desideratum for justice, peace, unity, prosperity and progress of the nation.

At the interactive session were leaders of CAN and representatives of various Christian blocs; Atiku's running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; and the PDP national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.

Others include Governor of Taraba State, Dairus Ishaku; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Vice President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi; and Chairman Emeritus of Daar Communications Plc, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi..

Also present were a former governor of Cross River, Liyel Imoke; Senator Philip Aduda, Senator Dino Melaye, Timi Alaibe, Kenneth Imasuagbon, Dele Momodu, former Governor Boni Haruna of Adamawa State, and other PDP, LP, and SDP chieftains among others.

The leadership of CAN had an audience with the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, first.

Dressed in a light brown garment with a local cap to fit, Atiku assured the Christian leaders of devolving power to the component regions and states of the federation, noting that restructuring of the country was imperative for Nigeria to make progress 2023 and beyond.

Broaching the issue which has been a sensitive and contentious subject between the Northern and Southern regions, the PDP flag bearer agreed with CAN that state police and fiscal restructuring were constitutional matters requiring the urgent attention of the country next president. 

He took a swipe at the the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying they deceived Nigerians in 2015 by promising to restructure the country which they didn't till date.

He said the proposal CAN presented to him aligns with his beliefs as a statesman even when former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was his principal and his constituency in Adamawa disagreed with him.

Atiku said to tackle insecurity, he will increase the size of the police force, train and equip them.

He said, "My brothers and sisters, I stand before you here. Not to campaign but to tell you the honest truth. What you have presented to us is what I have always believed in and if I have the opportunity. I swear to God I will do it.

"We cannot have state police without having a constitutional amendment, so we will go into constitution amendment where we will have different levels of police. These are our plans to tackle the security challenges facing the country.

"For sure we need a judicial amendment, first of all, there is poor wages for Judges, very poor working conditions. Again, the judiciary has levels, federal judiciary, state, but we will attempt as much as possible to have a judicial reform where we will improve dispensation of justice and also the welfare of Judges."

He vowed to expunge the sections of the 1999 Constitution that reinforces indigeneship at the expense of citizenship. 

"I am a supporter of the removal of clause of definition of indigeneship in our constitution, once you reside in any part of the country, and you pay your taxes, you should be entitled to indigeneship," he noted.

Obi takes the stage

Speaking when he took the centre stage, the Labour Party presidential candidate said he would rescue Nigeria from its status as a failed state if elected president in 2023.

Like Atiku, he reiterated that insecurity would be a thing of the past under his administration; declaring that he was committed to unlocking the greatness of the country and lifting her from a consuming country to a producing one while 

The former Anambra governor said that all the 18 presidential candidates will make same promise, but he asked Nigerians to check the sincerity of their promises and support who they can trust.

According to him, his target is to move Nigeria from consumption to production, secure and unite the country.

Obi said that Nigeria has met the qualifications to be characterised as a failed state, because the country is no longer in control of its territory and economy.

"All presidential candidates will tell you the same story, everybody's story will be as sweet as the other ones. What you are going to is to check the sincerity and the truth and the one you can trust. 

"It is now who among these 18 presidential candidates can you trust, because there is no promise that we are going to make that has not been made in the past, that promise has always been there.

"What I want to do is to move the country from consumption to production, it is not a productive country, our priority is to secure and unite the country, it is the number one thing you need to do.

"Nigeria has hit the two most critical things that qualifies a country to a failed state, number one, when you are no longer in control of your territory, we are no longer in control of our territory, number two, is when you are no longer in control of your economy, nobody can tell you today how much they are going to sell a bag of rice tomorrow. No country can function like that.

"You saw the last report where we have 133 million people living in poverty, no country can have such number of people living in poverty and won't face the crisis we are facing", Obi stated.

He said that the figures of poor people in the country increased as a result of cumulative effect of leadership failure over the years.

"I assure you that I am committed to the charter, the only thing there is how do we implement it, the will to implement it, and I can tell you that we need to restructure, but even as bad as the present constitution is, there is a lot of guarantees in it and there is a lot things that you can implement that can make it work, it is not what is stopping us from production, that is not the problem of production, over the years, we have had incompetent leadership", he added.

The ex-Anambra State governor added that he would positively change the narrative, noting that Nigeria was not bereft of ideas but lacked institutional and the political will to effect genuine change that would better the lives of Nigerians.

State and religion like Siamese twins - Adebayo

When it was his turn to speak, the SDP presidential candidate stated that it was wrong to separate the state from religion in the pursuit of common good for all.

According to him, both are like Siamese and mutually reinforcing each other for the peace and progress of the nation, but regretted that unscrupulous politicians seek to break that bond between the two. 

"That is why leaders when they are doing wrong, I mean political leaders, and religious leaders come out to talk, rhey will say, separate religion from state.

"But when the state is in trouble, we'll call religious leaders to come and explain. When we have failed in our credibility, because we have no provided for the people, and they're not listening to us. We go to religious leaders for help," he explained.

Adebayo promised to fully implement CAN's 11-point demand, if elected president in 2023.

We won't endorse any candidate - CAN

In his remarks, the CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh stated that CAN is very careful not to be partisan and it still maintains that position.

He said, “We have not changed our position (on same-faith ticket). If we want to change any position, we'll let the Nigerian public know.

"And so, when people read insinuations, in the social media, I will advise that people come to come to verify, and to be sure that what you see out there is truly the position of the Christian Association of Nigeria.

"This year, Christian Association of Nigeria have decided to expand this interactive session to include the media and, and other leaders so that the conversation will be seen to be as open as possible, and that the people will see that there is no secret. There are no secret meeting and there is nothing hidden at all in any conversation.

"We gave two dates and we wrote to all the 18 presidential candidates and we invited all to interactive session on the 15th of November and 16th of November.

"We are not going to endorse any political party. And we also want to let you know that Christian Association of Nigeria has taken the stand on a number of political issues in this country, not for because of the church alone, but for the welfare and well being of internet address and the future of our country. 

"And we are not about to change those positions we have taken because it took us a long time to arrive at those positions and decisions.

"And if for any reason, we have to change any position. We're not going to do that in the bedroom. We will not do that in the kitchen. We will do that in the public and let Nigerians know."

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