Top executives of the Federal Government, governors elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the national leadership of the party converged on Kebbi State, last week.
The strategic meeting was designed to form a tripartite policy synergy on development demands for the country. But more importantly, it offered them an opportunity to look inwards and reassess their performance with regards to their party manifesto and campaign promises.
Present at the meeting were (14 state governors and 5 deputy governors, Lagos was represented by the state SSG).
On the part of federal government team were the minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu; and minister of Information, Lai.Mohammed .
Others were National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Babagana Munguno Rtd; Special Adviser to President on Investment, Hajiya Maryam Uwais; and Attorney General and the minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led top party hierarchy of APC to the meeting.
The meeting planned to coincide with the official visit of the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo to commission N10bn WACOT Rice Mills in Kebbi State, the largest private sector modern rice mill in Africa.
The commissioning of the rice mill was instructive as it underscores the policy of Federal Government towards development.
Still, the parley for governors to share experiences, challenges and strategies on developmental issues as it concerns the citizenry, couldn’t have come at a better time, analysts opine.
While the country battles to exit the recession zone, the tension in the polity arising from various agitations has been worrisome.
However, with 2019 in mind and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeming to getting its act together, the APC wouldn’t want to be caught off guard.
But according to the organisers of the evident, the whole idea of the meeting was “The FG – PGF Parley has the objective of evaluating current challenges faced by state governments in accessing opportunities and resources provided by federal government’s policy initiatives as well as ensuring that APC states are able to take full advantages.
“The parley will focus on Security, Finance and Revenue Generation, Agriculture, Education and Social Investment. “
The chief host of the meeting Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu in his welcome address said that the governors would discuss issues of national interest, social development and security.
According to him the governors will continue to work diligently in line with the responsibilities and manifestos of APC to serve people well in view of the huge expectation from people for them to deliver .
He said that efforts would be prioritized on ensuring the eradication of poverty in the country.
The governor added “The enthusiasm and patriotism of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, demonstrated that Nigeria is getting its footsteps right. All that helps Nigeria to develop is now brought to debate and discussion table, and we should always cherish what we discuss significantly in order to enhance our development,” he said.
Bagudu implored Nigerians to continue praying for the peace and unity of the country. He also announced that Kebbi’s breakthrough in agriculture has helped in no small measure to fighting poverty and providing job opportunities for young people of the state.
In his speech at the occasion, chairman of the APC governors and Imo State helmsman, Mr. Rochas Okorocha said that the governors have a pact, and mandate to deliver to Nigerians.
He stressed that they were in Kebbi State to work with the federal government on how to deliver on the dividends of democracy. He appealed to Nigerians to keep being optimistic and patient adding that they should not judge the APC led administration on the sins of the past regime.
The governor who urged Nigerians to wait until their tenure expires before they judging them, said that the APC led administration came at a time when Nigeria was at the brink of economic collapse and engulfed by serious security challenges and uncertainty.
He added “We want to appeal to Nigerians not to judge us from the past sins or within two years we have been in the mantle of leadership of this great country; you should judge us from our achievements when the mandate entrusted to us expired.
“Our party has the best governors ever produced in the history of this country from Sokoto, Adamawa, Kebbi, Lagos, Imo, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Kogi and others.
“When you visit those states, you will know that Nigeria has not made mistakes electing us to lead their states affairs. We had resolved to fix the economy and it has already being fixed ‘’.
He explained that the forum in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture would put resources together to stamp out hunger and impoverishment.
Governor Okorocha called on Nigerians to remain one united indivisible country and avoid utterances capable of disuniting the country.
He said “We are united and Nigeria will always remain indivisible nation; we don’t know who is Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, our determination is to only stamp out hunger and bring democratic dividends to our citizens”, he said.
The APC governors forum Chairman however commended the Kebbi State Government for saving the country a lot of foreign exchange through agricultural revolution. He said the emergence of Bagudu as governor was a great choice.
On the party front, the APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun remarked that APC was out to unite and achieve development. He added that the party was a bridge builder which came out to salvage the economy and unite Nigerians.
In his remark, Acting Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo urged the governors to redouble their efforts to deliver on their promises to Nigerians in 2015.
He pointed out that the policy of APC led government was centered on core welfare and happiness of people while acknowledging that Nigerians still have hope in the present government even as there is a task of clearing decades of debris which will take time.
He stressed that the expectation on the APC-led administration to deliver on their promises to make life better for the people, demands a greater need for collaboration between federal and state governments.
He called on states to take visible and practical steps to meet their obligation to the people in their respective areas just as government at the center took visible steps in meeting its obligations and made refunds on debts owed to states.
“When the Federal Government provides relief resources, the resources are used for the agreed purposes. The second is to implement agreements that have been reached in specific sectoral context. For instance states must continue to work towards implementing their parts of the fiscal sustainability plan in order to improve their individual fiscal situations which impacts on the national fiscal picture ‘’.
The acting president, reiterated that the administration was diversifying the economy in the direction of agriculture to make Nigeria self sufficient in food production, stop importation of foreign rice, boost rice farming. He commended the leadership role and political will of Kebbi State governors on the rice production.
Osinbajo also touched on anti-corruption war and corrupt practice in all government dealings. He underscored the place of reorient Nigerians on discipline and proper conduct, noting that fighting corruption is the most difficult challenge the federal government is facing. “Corruption in Nigeria is systematic and endemic, a major hindrance to Nigeria’s development”, he said
He talked about the social welfare scheme of the federal government which is multi-dimensional, including poverty eradication, job creation and improving education at the grassroots.
‘’We believed that the way to go is energies agriculture, fund agriculture. We are able to raise the living standard of our people many of them subsistent farmer so that they are able to provide for themselves, their community and the country.
“Our economic policies especially on agriculture is based on the hard work of our people, that is why we are here in Kebbi State where we have seen the demonstration of what the future of Nigeria will be, a future where we grow what we eat and export our resources “.
The Acting President also addressed the fight against insurgency in the country, improving the health sector, efforts at rehabilitating those displaced by Boko Haram insurgency and improving the energy sector.
He didn’t hide the zeal of this administration to help the states through quick disbursement of funds in order to raise the living standard of their people but warned that states must be prudent and and transparent.
He emphasized that President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that all federal government activities must be transparent and prudent, therefore states and local governments must follow suite.
From there on the Federal Government delegation reeled out presentations and postulations. Ministers of Agriculture, Finance, Education took time to explain the current activities of their ministries towards fixing the economy of the country.
Minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and the minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, took on vital questions on agriculture and the economy.
Ogbeh elaborated on the efforts of government in improving rice production and how Nigeria can stop importation of foreign rice by end of this year.
On her part, Adeosun explained the effort of the federal government in fixing the economy.
She appealed to governors of the various states to do more on tax collection and create other means to generate revenue rather than waiting for the federal government to always come to their aid.
The finance minister added that with time the money being given to them by the federal government would not be meaningful to meet developmental needs of the states.
She also pointed out that the current revenue accruing to the country was not enough to meet its developmental needs which underscores why governors need to start looking inwards with a view to creating means of generating revenue for their respective states.
Presentations at the parley, were tailored towards developing a road map to guide the relationship between the federal and APC state governments in ensuring state governments align themselves with the initiatives of the federal government.
While the move is commendable, analysts had observed a seeming disconnect in policy formulation and implementation between the party and the government. Most of its manifestoes are yet to be implemented, perhaps because of a mixture of paucity of funds, poor political will and political intrigues.
More so, while more focus has been on government at the center, there has been demand for state governments to pull their weight in the development cycle.
Nevertheless, although, it is expected that a template has been set for streamlining policy issues towards development, it is expected that the National Assembly would be at the same page with the party’s new move.
The back and forth between the two arms of government has increasingly become more distracting than developmental with regards to governance, pundits aver.
For a National Assembly that is controlled by the APC government, many analysts had expected a more healthy synergy between the legislature and the executive. However, the plethora of needless bickering, perhaps arising from the political differences, have yet to abate, analysts opine.