OPENING REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR KEN NNAMANI, GCON. CHAIRMAN AT IBB PRESIDENTIAL DECLARATION AT THE EAGLE SQUARE ON, 15/9/10
‘Politics should be Open, Tolerant and Ideas-driven’
Today is a momentous day in Nigeria ’s political history. Change for the better must come to this country otherwise posterity will not forgive all of us.
I am therefore highly honored to be the chairman of this event. This is a historic moment when former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, GCFR makes his public declaration seeking the presidential nomination of our great party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), for the 2011 presidential election.
I am honored to chair this event because IBB (as he is fondly and popularly known) is an illustrious son of Nigeria who has boldly offered himself to lead our great nation at this critical juncture in our history. His courage is laudable. By virtue of his entry into the presidential race, we are guaranteed a competitive primary for the 2011 presidential election.
Through a competitive primary, the best candidate will emerge. Through this process, both the party and the nation will benefit.
Let me be clear, this declaration is an internal party affair. Our great Party, the PDP has agreed on zoning because we believe that the practice of zoning will give every part of this country the opportunity to, one day, produce the President of this nation.
It is boldly written in section 7(2) C of our Party Constitution. The principle of power rotation is the true essence of “the federal character” which is captured in the 1999 Constitution section 153. I make bold to say this, we need rotation of power and zoning of public offices for inclusiveness, peace and stability of this country. People of like minds are therefore looking up to the North to rally together and hopefully give PDP ‘a common candidate’ for the 2011 presidential election.
Many times people fail to recognize that experience is critical in leadership, especially for a highly complex country like Nigeria. At this period of our national development we need a tried and tested, steady hand to lead this nation. We can no longer afford to experiment with our collective future and destiny. The man for whom we are gathered here today is a man of enormous experience and immense courage, as we all can testify.
The need for reform in our politics and in our economy is another reason Nigeria needs strong leadership in order for us to catch up with developed economies. I am a strong believer in reform, and I will urge Nigerians to demand a new style of leadership that makes the welfare of the citizen the centre of governance from all our leaders. IBB is himself a reformer and his track record speaks for him.
As leaders of PDP, we must offer a level playing field to every aspirant who declares on our party platform to give us his or her vision of change, a clear road map of where and how far he wants to take this country. This will help Nigerians to choose a leader of their conviction. And that’s genuine democracy.
The change we need will not come if we persist in the unprofitable practice where we negotiate political offices behind closed doors. Today let political office/s be decided by a fair primary and the open ballot, to determine the popular will of the people.
We are now negotiating a very critical bend in our politics when absolute care needs to be exercised so that we don’t destroy the labor of our heroes past. Many of us have read the statements credited to a former US Ambassador to Nigeria , Mr. John Campbell, to the effect that Nigeria runs risk of state failure in the 2011 elections unless real care is taken to sagaciously manage the tensions and political conflicts in Nigeria . Expectedly, many Nigerian public officials are criticizing John Campbell without properly digesting what he is saying. The correct answer to John Campbell is to work hard to make sure that the 2011 election is free, fair, credible, peaceful and satisfactory to all Nigerians. And it starts with a fair, credible and open primaries.
This is a defining election. It may well determine whether Nigeria will make it through to the next decade in full stride or continue to stumble as we have done so often before.
A few years ago there was a prognostication that Nigeria may disintegrate by 2015. Of course, we reject this prophecy. But the best way to reject this prophecy of doom is to avoid the politics of intolerance and violence. Politics in Nigeria must have principles and ground rules. It should be issues driven. And leaders must have the vision and plans to address these issues.
Today, President Ibrahim Babangida declares to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2011 under the platform of the PDP. No one will doubt that President Babangida has the experience and political courage to steer us away from the instability of the present into a stability that will be the bedrock of our recovery.
He has been there before and laid a strong foundation for prosperity. He established strong institutions and he is obviously poised to do even better for our great country. He must have learnt some valuable lessons in the course of his earlier stewardship of this country which would come in handy when Nigerians decide.
IBB will unfold his manifesto at this declaration and Nigerians will be able to judge his vision for our country. I believe in Nigeria . I believe that Nigerians are entitled to a future. I therefore feel greatly honored to chair this event and attest to the great leadership qualities of IBB.
A great patriot and a benevolent leader.
I thank you all!
Senator (Dr) Ken Nnamani, GCON