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Poverty Is Bigger Than Our Division

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By Kabir Aregbesola

President Muhammadu Buhari must end well. Because he is the product of the longest running, successful and unprecedented North – South progressive alliance. A fusion premised on delivering for this country a Presidency for the poor and silent majority. On this mandate, this presidency has stood itself out, unleashing the boldest socio-economic programmes this country has ever seen, also arguably the largest in Sub Saharan Africa.

On the social front, over 1 million youths have so far been engaged under the NPOWER programme. Over 5.5 million school children fed through the Home Grown School Feeding Programme. Over 1 million poor families supported through the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme. Over 2.5 million traders and market women supported through the TraderMoni and Market Moni Programmes. All these are targeted at eliminating extreme poverty.

On the economic front; over 3.1 million farmers have been supported through the famous Anchor Borrows Programme to ramp up local food production and preserve forex. The price of fertilizer was crashed from pre 2015 price of N11,000 to N5,500 supporting millions of Farmers and reviving dozens of local fertilizer mixing companies; Over 400 kms of rail infrastructure is being delivered with the Lagos-Ibadan rail service,a failed project that has survived many administrations before our own, which was commissioned just a few a days ago. Over 1000 kms of Roads Infrastructure is being delivered with the iconic; Second Niger Bridge now over 60% completed and on course for completion by 2022, among many more pro-poor, inclusive, populist and progressive programmes championed or completed by this Government.

Lest we forget, all these were achieved with dwindling crude oil revenue and a devastating global pandemic.

So, when this President finishes, with the best of efforts, the development work still won’t be enough. This is because the rots of decades can’t be reversed completely in 8 years. Therefore, the legacy of progressive, pro-poor and inclusive development we seek for our people is not an 8 year play, it’s a 40 year one. If we agree, that this is a long term play, then we must realise that the sustainability of this North-South progressive alliance is the single most important political arrangement and test for the current leadership of our great party, the All Progressive Congress, for the sake of our children, your grand children and nation. We must rise to guarantee this alliance by all means.

By 2050, just 30 years from now, Nigeria’s population is estimated to hit about 500m. We have a ballooning a population and dwindling revenue, assuming that some of us might not be here by then, certainly however, our children, your grandchildren will be. Even if they were to leave this country they will be second class citizen where ever they go, so we must therefore face our current challenges with the boldest of visions and best resources at our disposal. There is no other option.

For us to deliver mass prosperity and a stable social, economic and political future, we must see beyond 2023. We must rise beyond our selfish interests to a bigger and bolder vision for our children, your grandchildren. We must rise beyond the divisions of self- interest, ethnicity and religion and such other narrow self serving considerations to solve the bigger problem, POVERTY. Poverty of the mind and of the pocket ravaging the social fabric of our Nation; on all fronts; Productivity, Values and Security. Poverty that knows no Tribe or Religion. We must rise beyond our divisions to deliver Functional Education for all, Affordable Healthcare for all, Safe and Secure Homeland and many more progressive solutions through this bold progressive and political platform, the All Progressives Congress; for our Nation.

To deliver this legacy of progressive and inclusive development the Nation needs, change which must start from within. Our great Party, The All Progressives Congress, which produced the current President and must produce the next one, must be led by the boldest of progressive values that see beyond just 2023. If we are to truly secure a long term legacy of inclusive and populist development for our people and for President Muhammadu Buhari, The All Progressive Congress, must champion from within; Internal Democracy, Bold Youth Engagement, Fiscal Federalism, Fiscal Independence of Local Councils all set within a clear and well defined progressive charter which the party can be held to by Nigerians. This is the great test for Now.

Nigeria is a young country, with 50% of our population aged between 30-45 years. To achieve our goals of delivering a long term progressive legacy, sustaining North-South progressive alignment and produce the next President for our Nation, our great party, the All Progressive Congress, must rejig it’s relationship with the most energetic constituency of our Nation; The Youth. What we do on this matter and when we do it, will shape politics of our country for years to come. The APC must rally leadership and leverage the energy of the younger generation to be the Model Political Party for our Country and deliver Nigeria as the model of development for Africa.

The APC must re-energize the younger generation in a transformational way to secure the party’s future and the country’s progressive legacy.

a. Your Excellency Mr. President & Mr. Chairman, The Time has come to leverage the younger generation as the engine room for participation, growth and opportunities for our long term survival.

b. The time has come for the APC to energize the younger generation in a transformative way to take charge of their our future through our great political platform; the APC

c. The Time has come for us to lower the maximum age to contest as councilors to 30 years.

d. The Time has come to lower the maximum age to contest as a Local Government Chairman to 40 years.

e. The Time has come to mainstream the younger generation in all party formations, structures and committees beyond inclusion.

f. The Time has come to mainstream the younger generation in Government MDAs, structures and committees.

g. The future is here, and we are the most at risk. The Time has come to help us take charge of our Future.

Nigeria is Great and it’s has so been for centuries. In this Land, Our people ran a civilization that built paved roads, street lights and massive moats and giant walls before encountering the colonizers. In this land we ran a civilization that went as far as the fringes of Libya, and had an ambassadorial post with the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. In this land, are civilizations that thrived as early as the best civilization we read about. In this land, we built the first Television Station in the southern hemisphere. In this Land we produced one of the most successful apprenticeship traditions the world has seen. In this land we produced Groundnut Pyramids. In this land, we produced a Doctor who operated on a baby from the womb and delivered her successfully.

Our forebears were great, we have greatness built in us; we must rise above our primordial sentiments to unleash our greatness for the sake of our people, our children, our Nation, our race and for the World.

In summary, Our President must end well, we must sustain North–South Progressive alliance. This is the Time for our great party to mainstream the younger generation into Politics and Governance for our long term survival.

THANK YOU.

The paper, “SHALL WE RISE?” was presented at the maiden edition of Progressives Youth Conference held in Abuja on Monday.

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