The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, has described the two major political parties in the country as two evils that Nigerians are usually confronted with during elections.
Ezekwesilli, who addressed a press conference in Lagos yesterday, lamented that because the people were tired of choosing between those parties, only 28 million out of 67 million of the populace came out to vote in the 2015 general elections.
“So the rest stayed away from the process, this was because most of them were tired of having to choose between what Nigerians famously call evil and lesser evil,” she said, adding that the people should not be left with that kind of choice in every election year.
While stressing the need to choose a candidate who does not have an evil record, the former Vice President of World Bank, Africa Division, declared: “Nigerians must not be told that all they are deserving of is a choice between evils.
I certainly am not an evil to choose. I am the one who comes with the right orientation of what governance should be.”
Dismissing the zoning arrangement in leadership selection, Ezekwesili, who is also a former Minister of Education, contended that Nigeria is deserving of stability, of cohesion and prosperity, arguing that it does not matter where the candidate that would bring these to pass came from.
She stated: “Nigeria is in need of a leader that would shape the agenda of where the society should be going, so that equality of opportunity will be a pattern of how we govern ourselves.
The poor person in Kano does not care, whether I speak Hausa or any other language. What the person cares about is that I lead effectively to better their lot.”
She assured that if elected president, her government would focus on the core issues that make people productive and competitive, even as she expressed the belief that this would endear the heart of the people to her because of the sincerity of purpose and leadership quality she would bring to governance.
According to the presidential candidate, the current political class of the two major parties in the country speaks the language of bad politics, noting that the people were fed up with it.
On restructuring, Ezekwesili said: “My idea of restructuring is a conversation that should focus on the economic governance structure that would enable Nigeria become a modern economy of the 21st century.
Right now a lot of the political class, when they talk about restructuring, they are just thinking of it in a shallow way; that is not it.
We need the kind of economic governance structure that enables this country attain the quality of productivity and also take it to a place of prosperity.
“Restructuring is the heart of the matter. If you have all kinds of structures and yet the people are not productive and the country is not competitive, it is a big waste.
So we must make it a conversation on the economic productivity and competiveness of Nigeria. When we decide that it will be easy for us to say what kind of structure will deliver this goal to us.”
She berated the current administration, saying that it has failed to attain any key reforms, especially in the area of the economy, adding, “show me the reforms that the current government has been able to implement since it came into office. There is no major economic reform that has happened.”
While highlighting her economic plans, she said, rapid increase in standard of living, knowledge capital, longevity, human security and equality of opportunities would be the hallmark of her administration.
“I believe that every Nigerian is capable of becoming great. What we need to identify are those barriers that stand in the way of becoming great.
When you identify and remove these barriers and you have the policy of equality of opportunities what would happen is that people can be the best that they choose to be.”
She added that oil well should not be the basis to build the country’s economy, advising that oil should be made less important and that revenues from it should be considered as a bonus.
Ezekwesili said she had the vision, experience and passion to reposition the country, promising that Nigeria would witness massive turnaround if she was elected.
The candidate said the country’s economy was experiencing what she called ‘fiscal crisis’ hence the need to pursue vigorous sectoral and structural reforms to achieve real economic growth and promote the prosperity of the country.
The candidate said her economic vision for the country is an economy that would thrive on diversification, and one in which the cost of government would be drastically reduced for development.
According to her, “We need to get our fiscal crisis sorted out. Fiscal crisis in the sense that the 2017 budget performance report that was released by the Federal Government shows we are in a state of fiscal imbalance.
The oil revenue is not sufficient to cover the personnel cost of government, and when you think that we are about 186 million people and about two million people in the civil service consume the entire revenue, that tells you we are in post-oil times and we have not yet shown an understanding of the situation.
So, there has to be a drastic set of measures.
“On the expenditure side, we have to look at the cost of government. The cost of government was already put on the agenda in the Oronsanye Report. What happened to the implementation? We need to update the report and be determined to implement the recommendations therein.”
On the revenue side, Ezekwesili said the country needed to explore an economic strategy to open diverse sources of revenue. The presidential candidate said there was the need to develop the human capital to drive productivity and competitiveness in the economy.
While reacting to a question whether she would need the endorsement of Obasanjo under whom she served as minister to realise her ambition, Ezekwesili said that democracy was all about popular choice, and that she would not leave anyone out of the journey to become the president in 2019.
“I need the endorsement of everyone. I need the endorsement of the youths, the old and the oldest segment of this country who look at the country and ask ‘What happened’? I need the endorsement of everyone. I am not leaving anyone out because I am the candidate of the people. So every Nigerian is my electorate.
“There is no power greater than the power of the people. It is a collective. I am the person with the right understanding of governance. I am the people’s choice and I am in the race to win.”