Nigeria’s unity not negotiable, say Anenih, DG
NOTWITHSTANDING the uncertainties and fears that precede elections in the country and the divisive tones in the current campaigns, an assurance has come from Acting Director General of the Directorate for Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), Shuaibu Suleiman that Nigeria won’t disintegrate.
In the same vein, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tony Anenih has said that Nigeria must remain united during and after the forthcoming polls regardless of the nation’s existing religious, regional and ethnic fault lines.
Suleiman who gave the assurance in an interview with journalists in Abuja, noted that Nigeria occupied a strategic leadership position in Africa, and had over the years, offered numerous aid to other African countries in the areas of peace keeping, capacity building and technical cooperation; and had also become so important that the rest of Africa and the world would not watch it break up.
Suleiman, who was speaking at the end of a monitoring and evaluation capacity building workshop for the staff of DTCA, stated that leadership was sacrifice and there was no country in Africa that had sacrificed like Nigeria.
“Even all the countries in Africa know that no country will give them help like Nigeria,” he said.
“Look at the issue of peace keeping. Even with all our challenges, of course, the government is considering the recall of our troops on missions abroad but with all the challenges we have, Nigerians are performing peace keeping missions all over Africa. The challenges here are being resolved and they will be resolved.
“Whether you like it or not, even in the midst of our challenges, a number of African nations are looking up to Nigeria. That is why if there is any challenge in Nigeria, a number a Heads of States in Africa will tell Nigeria to do whatever it can to resolve it, because they cannot afford Nigeria’s disintegration or it being crippled by challenges,” he said.
Speaking on the scope of projects being implemented across Africa, Suleiman noted that the Nigerian government in 2004 instituted the $25 million Nigerian Technical Cooperation Fund (NTCF) which was domiciled in the African Development Bank (ADB), to implement programmes that cut across various sectors in order to facilitate integration in Africa.
However, according to him, some African countries were yet to be fully appreciative of this gesture.
“Some of the countries we’ve assisted need to reciprocate and acknowledge what Nigeria is doing. Of course, there are a number of them that have come out to make statements to thank Nigeria for the assistance given to them. The Liberian government did that, so also the ambassador of Sierra Leone, but we believe we should be more recognised by others,” he said.
He added though that Nigeria, despite this, would continue to discharge its leadership duties to Africa.
“The fact that you are a leader, sometimes you have to live with the burden, because there are expectations and people are looking up to you to give leadership. Our population is scattered all over Africa. We have Nigerians out there and we have to also show leadership,” he said.
Speaking earlier at the workshop titled “Effective Programme Delivery for Sustainable Development through Monitoring and Evaluation”, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Danjuma Sheni commended the DTCA for how well it had done in the implementation of programmes across Africa.
He commended the vision to train the staff of the Directorate in monitoring and evaluation, pointing out that one of the reasons numerous projects failed and were abandoned was lack of skilled manpower to carry out the monitoring and evaluation exercise and, thereby generate feedback on such projects.
“I, therefore, urge the Directorate to keep up with its concerted effort in the capacity building of her staff in various special skills,” he said.
Director, Office of the Honorable Minister II, Bala Ahmed Gusau, in his remark, stated that a total of 123 project applications were considered under the NTCF between 2006 and 2014, while 69 were approved. Of the approved figure, 24 had been completed while 45 were on-going.
According to Gusau, some of the countries that had benefitted from the fund included Liberia, Morocco, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Malawi.
According to Suleiman, the period between the receipt of applications to the disbursement of funds for the approved projects used to take up to a year. He called for the review of the timeline to about three months so that Africa could develop rapidly.
“What we are advocating now is to shorten the time to three months. It is not good if a project is approved and it takes three years to get the funds. Inflation would have eaten up the funds. There is one of such we did in Liberia. Unfortunately it couldn’t take off because of some challenges there. It took three to four years. So by the time they were ready to revisit it, it didn’t make sense again. We know we can shorten the period.
“Also, we will like to shorten the time of implementation of the projects. Some consultants take a longer period unnecessarily. We have had to cancel about four projects like that because they were taking much longer than necessary,” he said.
Also, in a statement titled, “2015 Elections: Nigeria must keep moving forward in unity”, Anenih acknowledged both national and international concerns about the ability of the country to conduct free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
According to him: “While I acknowledge that these concerns are not without foundation, I have no reservation whatsoever in assuring my fellow Nigerians that whatever the odds may be, Nigeria will keep moving forward in unity.
“As the PDP Chairman of the Board of Trustees, I am unwavering in my belief that the unity and advancement of our country is better protected by the PDP than by any other party.
“In the past four presidential elections, many of you agreed with me and voted our party to victory. For this privilege, you’ve repeatedly given our party to steer the ship of state since our nation’s return to democracy in 1999, I thank you once more.
“I am also calling on all Nigerians to once again vote the PDP in 2015. It is a matter of verifiable fact that the PDP, besides faithfully discharging its foremost duty to Nigeria of sustaining a stable and functional state, has recorded many achievements in agriculture, aviation, education, road, rail, industrialisation, women and youth empowerment and many other sectors.”
Anenih, who is the National Campaign Adviser of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, assured that when re-elected, the PDP-led Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan would build more on the achievements on ground.
He specifically commended the revolution in the Almajiri education in the north aimed at integrating the teeming Almajiri population into the regular education scheme, pointing out that the Federal Government has already completed more than 150 purpose-built schools with many more under construction for the programme.
Anenih noted: “The PDP has successfully carried out a strategic restructuring of what was largely a state-run economy to a free-market economy, thereby engendering greater human development, free enterprise and irreversible economic expansion.
“These policies have created new jobs and empowered Nigerians from the North, South, East and West, thereby fostering more inclusive economic growth, especially in agriculture and the Small and Medium Enterprises sector through programmes such as SURE-P and YouWin.
“It is a universally-acknowledged principle that inclusive economic growth for the populace is the best guarantee that we have not only for our political and democratic stability, but also in ensuring that Nigeria keeps moving forward in unity.”
He appealed to Nigerians to support President Jonathan, whom he described as the best candidate for the job, with a renewed mandate at the polls.
The BoT chair assured that the president and the PDP “shall redouble their efforts to stem the evil tide of terrorism and insurgency, fast-track greater access to qualitative education across the country, pursue an even more aggressive infrastructure development programme, while still safeguarding the democratic ideals of free speech and liberty which we all enjoy today.”
He further urged them, irrespective of tribe, religion, region, or political affiliation, to eschew all forms of mudslinging, disorder, and violence as they turn out en-masse to vote for President Jonathan.
“Let us prove the naysayers wrong. Let us show the world that as Nigerians, regardless of our differences, we are determined that Nigeria must keep moving forward in unity,” Anenih said.