Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says he has no candidates for political offices in 2019 but prefers to remain an elder statesman with passion for greater Nigeria.

Mr. Obasanjo convened the Coalition for Nigeria Movement as a “third force” or an alternative to the ruling All Progressives Congress and opposition Peoples Democratic Party after issuing a press statement last month in which he accused President Muhammadu Buhari of performing below expectation and urged him not to seek re-election so that a younger person can become president in 2019.

But on Wednesday while receiving a youth group from Delta State led by a governorship aspirant, Frank Esanubi on a courtesy visit at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State, the former president said the coalition will not present candidates at the next general elections.

He said he convened the coalition to galvanise Nigerians to appreciate their interests and power, noting that transitions that had taken place in the country since independence neglected the people at the grassroots.

Mr. Obasanjo explained that his letter to President Buhari was not meant to disrespect the office of the president or embarrass the president but to articulate his views about the situation in the country and offer his candid advice.

He added that his statement was thoroughly thought out and not frivolously issued, stressing that as a former president, he could not hold the office of the president in contempt.

Mr. Obasanjo reiterated that CNM would remain a socio-political movement, stressing that he would cease to be a member if the coalition becomes partisan.

“In the year 2015, I said I would no longer participate in partisan politics. And I still stand by my decision. Everybody, irrespective of his or her political affiliation is free to come here for advice, I will gladly do that.

“I have no candidate, whatsoever, for any political office. I just believe that things must be done differently in Nigeria to get different result,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

 

“If you study our transitions since the colonial era, they have all taken place without taking the people of the grassroots into consideration. So, CNM is about the people at the grassroots. It is a socio-economic movement where youth and women, especially, will be given opportunity to appreciate their interests and power. Unlike before, I believe we must put the horse before the cart,” he added.

“If the system and the platform sync, I believe Nigeria will get there. And like I said, the moment the coalition gets involved in candidate sponsoring or participates in partisan politics, I will opt out of it,” Mr. Obasanjo stated.

The leader of the visiting team, Mr. Esanubi said his group’s visit to the former president was to pay homage to him and intimate him on their resolve to heed his clarion call for Nigerians to come together under the CNM for a better Nigeria.

VP Osinbajo inaugurates ERGP Labs Working Groups, charge members on commitment

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday inaugurated the Core Working Groups of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs with a charge to stakeholders to work collaboratively as one entity focused on getting new investment commitments and assisting investors think through implementation.

While inaugurating the group in Abuja, the Vice President said the Working Group comprising senior public officers from the six pilot Ministries and their agencies, has the rare privilege of contributing to the national assignment by providing sector expertise and working with the ERGP Implementation Unit to successfully plan the three initial labs and address inter-agency bottlenecks investors might bring to the labs.

He was particularly excited that the ERGP focus labs is one of those targeted initiatives of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration that drives the three pillars of its medium-term plan – restoring growth, building a competitive economy and investing in our people.

The Vice President said he was also pleased that the implementation of the ERGP less than one year after its launching by the President has resulted in early wins, from the targeted exit from recession in Q2 last of 2017 to improved stability in the fiscal and monetary markets.

“As mentioned by the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning, most of our macro indices are trending upwards but a lot more needs to be done. And this administration will definitely not relent until we bring these headline improvements to visibly impact the majority of our citizenry”, he added.

Prof Osinbajo said as the intent of the focus labs are primarily to drive new investments that create  jobs for the people across the 36 states of the federation, all hands must be on deck to get the labs project right.

He explained that the Central Steering Committee comprising nine cabinet ministers in Agriculture, Transport, Solid Minerals; Industry Trade and investment; Power Works and Housing; Petroleum Resources, Finance, Justice and Budget and National Planning are tasked with steering the labs and ensuring active collaboration with the private sector to remove inhibitions that may have impeded some of the priority projects that they want to invest in, but which have remained on the drawing board for a long time.

While commending members of the ERGP Implementation Team and all those who have been working towards the labs, the Vice President reaffirmed the commitment of the President to the labs’ initiative and look forward to joining in the working sessions ahead of the commencement of the labs in March.

Giving a background of the labs concept, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma explained that though significant work has been done on the ERGP Implementation, and in the right direction, more work needs to be done to achieve targets.

Since it is not feasible to rely on the Government to fund required investments on its own due to its ongoing fiscal deficit, he said private investment is therefore key to catalysing growth. “We have therefore chosen to conduct Focus Labs in three selected areas to deliver quick and fast results on investments and job creation”.

The labs, he explained, are intended to achieve two main objectives, namely: new investments for critical projects and resolution of complex inter-agency problems that inhibit private sector investment.

He pointed out that the ERGP Focus Labs are not meant to replace existing sectoral roadmaps and plans, rather it is meant to identify entry projects to act as showcase to bring back investor confidence to Nigeria. The ERGP will focus on mobilising private investment projects to meet the USD 245 billion investments and 15 million job creation targets by 2020, he added.

For the specified sectors, the Minister explained that for Agriculture and Transportation, the lab will look to increase private sector investments in selected crops and products (agro-business) while investment along the transport corridors will target rail, roads and ports. For Manufacturing and Processing, the Lab will look to increase private sector investments in selected manufacturing subsectors and products as well as the processing of selected solid minerals in Nigeria; while in the Power and Gas sector, the Lab will look to increase private sector investments in the power sector i.e. electricity generation across its value chain and energy mix and the gas industries including expansion of domestic market.

Responding after the inauguration, the Minister of Trade Industry and Investment, Dr Okey Enelamah emphasized the need for commitment by all concerned to realize the objective of the project, pointing out that the challenge Nigeria often faces is not crafting good plans, but that id diligent implementation.

He also charged members of the groups to approach the assignment from the perspective of “the right thing, not the right person” as there will be no “high tables, but work tables”.

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