Obasanjo Denies Calling For Revolution

--> Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday denied calling for a revolution in Nigeria. Reacting to reports quoting him as saying that a revolution was imminent in the country, the former president said he was misquoted as he never made such comment. He said: “The person saying I talked about revolution taking place in Nigeria is talking nonsense; he doesn’t understand English.

“What I said was that as long as we do not pay adequate attention to solving the problem of unemployment, we are all sitting on a keg of gun powder. And it is a tickling time-bomb. All of us must realise that it is a serious problem. Our leaders must pay attention to this issue.

“That is not revolution. I never used the word revolution. Unemployment is a continental problem and indeed a global problem.

If a state can have over 50 per cent of its population as unemployed, it is a major problem that needs serious attention. “I didn’t mention revolution in my speech. Who will write a cheque for us in Africa?

Asked to clarify whether he spoke about a revolution happening in Nigeria, he said: “I didn’t. And that is not what I want for Nigeria. What I want for Nigeria is job creation for the youth not revolution.” Obasanjo was said to have predicted that a revolution loomed in Nigeria unless the government took urgent step to arrest youth unemployment and poverty.

The prediction was reportedly made at the weekend in a speech at a West African regional conference on youth employment in Senegal. Meanwhile, former President Obasanjo has asked political parties to do more in enforcing party discipline, proper implementation of their manifestoes, service delivery and national integration in their quest for power acquisition. Obasanjo spoke yesterday in Abuja as chairman of the first session of a two-day roundtable conference on “Party Politics and Election in Nigeria,” organised by the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS).

The former president expressed concern that in Nigeria, political parties’ manifestoes are being abused because they are only used to win elections and thereafter dumped by political parties. He wondered how a party in office would be assessed if not through the party’s manifestoes.

He observed that in the absence of manifestoes, it becomes difficult to hold political parties accountable in office. He said: “In Nigeria, manifestoes are prepared, read and thereafter thrown away after elections.

Worse still, in other instances, some political parties do not even have manifestoes. How then do we hold political parties accountable?”

While commenting on party discipline, Obasanjo stressed that no human institution or organisation, not the least, political parties can endure without party discipline, particularly under a multi-party democracy like Nigeria. He noted that it is party discipline that subjects the activities of members of the party to checks and ensures that the ideologies of political parties are sustained. On service, the former president implored political parties to do more because at the moment.

“We rarely find political parties delivering services to the people to justify the confidence reposed in them by the electorate”, he said. The conference, which was attended by the Senate President, David Mark, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Deputy Speaker of the House of representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; former President, Ibrahim Babangida; former principal officers of the National Assembly, chairmen of registered political parties in Nigeria, serving members of the National Assembly and some visiting members of the United States of America Congress.

In his keynote address while declaring the event open, Mark explained that intra party squabbles exist because political party affiliation in Nigeria is rarely anchored on ideology or any uniting and defined philosophy, but rather largely on crass opportunism. This, the Senate President said, undermines the capacity of the political party to govern effectively, even after gaining political power.

He expressed concerns that in reality, most of the current political parties in the country are fledging and hardly able to stand on their feet, while many others exists mainly on paper, and were floated to attract the financial subventions, which the 1999 constitution hitherto guaranteed them.

According to him, even the big parties, which control various executive and legislative arms of government are often mired by internal convulsions, lack of cohesion, indiscipline and glaring absence of internal democracy. These problems, Mark said have been the bane of party politics in Nigeria.

He described as unfortunate that the term lobbying has come to acquire a pejorative connotation, despite its many inherent and positive benefits, noting that this is due largely to the abuse to which it often liable.

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