To All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the essence of any party is to serve the people. The APC, he noted, has been doing that in the last three years. In his remark as the Special Guest of Honour at the 35th Annual Aminu Kano Memorial Symposium in Kano, Tinubu, said President Muhammadu Buhari has “spent tangible time clearing the mess institutionalised by past administrations as a national policy”. He was represented at the symposium entitled: “Democratic governance and the imperatives of party ideology and supremacy”, by Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
ACCOLADES and commendations are due the organisers of this event, the Aminu Kano Center for Democratic Research and Training. By extension to Bayero University, Kano, for having the vision and social commitment for having such a center that adds to the public discourse on the important issues that shape our nation.
This 35th Annual Aminu Kano Memorial Symposium and its theme: “Democratic governance and the imperatives of party ideology and supremacy” are indeed timely.
The two speakers today are among Nigeria’s finest thinkers regarding the issues at hand. Their addresses will be fertile ones giving us much to think about and much to do.
I am honoured simply to be invited to such an important event, let alone to be told that I am the Special Guest of Honour.
Our nation resides in a period of historic transition. We struggle to give birth to a better Nigeria. This also means we struggle to eject the malpractices of the past. That which is good contests against that which is not.
This contest has a high moral content and it is here that we turn to Aminu Kano for inspiration. For it is here that Aminu Kano set the path we must follow.
This great man could have lived an easy life by exploiting for selfish objectives all the opportunities opened to a man of his great abilities and social station.
Instead, he devoted himself to the welfare of the people. He took the harder path because it was the true and correct one.
As Aminu Kano did, we must do!
The spirit of this great man must guide more than our deliberations here today. That spirit must direct our political intercourse and actions.
If we do so, we shall come to the realisation that democratic governance is more than going through the motions of mimicking certain processes and functions that have been deemed to connote democracy.
We must come to a better understanding of the moral and social principles that underlie these processes and functions. The existence of parties and of elections does not of itself mean democracy is present. For form without substance is but an empty box, a hollow gift, not worth the giving.
Democratic governance must not only stick to proper form, it must bear proper fruits.
It must work for the betterment of the people and give them the chance to realise the best of their individual and collective aspirations in an atmosphere of peace, justice, and fair enterprise.
To me, this is what sets apart the current administration from prior governments of that other party.
The APC (All Progressives Congress) government may, at times be, imperfect in fulfilling the spirit of Aminu Kano, but, we are far from the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party), which has perfected the malign craft of giving selfish ambition primacy over the public good.
Consequently, the President Muhammadu-led Buhari government has spent inordinate time cleaning the rot and plugging the holes in the corrupt system the others had institutionalised as their strategic policy and national direction.
The APC has been working to steer our national ship from this awful direction in order that we may bring the people and their welfare into safe harbour.
Had the billions of dollars and trillions of naira that were stolen by past governments been used for the people, the nation would have been able to acquire the infrastructure and implement the programmes that bring greater development and economic justice to all.
Instead, the select few ate more than their bellies could contain. Distorting the cause of justice and hijacking the means of national welfare, they wildly enriched themselves and left the average Nigerian to dine on the passing wind.
Due to the drop in oil prices, this administration has had less money than those, which preceded it. However, it has done more with less.
The government has launched school feeding and stipend programmes for the poorest among us. These programmes have enabled millions to eat at least, one solid meal a day and for countless children to attend to their education instead of allowing the world to pass them by at an early age.
The programmes have also increased local economic activity by boosting consumer demand.
These things were done with the welfare of the people in mind.
When someone can do for you in three years what another did not even try in sixteen, any person with an open eye can see the difference between giver and taker, between friend and thief.
Of course, more needs to be done. I envision a time of even bolder action that modernises national infrastructure; implements an industrial plan that revives the textile sector and builds new industries; agricultural reform that provides farmers minimum incomes and greater access to credit; mortgage reform that opens the door to affordable housing for millions of families; pension reform that insulates our aged from poverty; and an expansion of the school feeding into every state and local government.
With regard to ‘Party ideology and supremacy’, let me state that ideology and principle must hold supremacy over supremacy.
I think Mallam Aminu Kano would have said the same thing in this regard.
Calling for party supremacy by and for its own sake is nothing but an invitation for people to install and then perpetuate themselves in positions of authority in the party. They will arrogate power so that they come to dictate to the rest of the party instead of serving the collective will of party members.
Recent events in our party confirm this observation. Party discipline is vital but even more vital is adherence to humane and democratic ideals and principles.
With such principles, a party exercises internal democracy, which better enables it to govern democratically.
Without such adherence, a party becomes a vehicle to lord over its members, instead of a tool to empower its members to realise good and beneficial aims.
We must always remember that the political party is meant to serve the people and not the people to serve the party.
I dare not steal more time as you have come not to listen to me but to our designated speakers and their wisdom.
Again, I thank you for honouring me with this invitation and I look forward to a robust and enlightening symposium today.