A Town Hall meeting organised by a political movement under the aegis of New Dream for Grassroots Development kicked off, on Thursday, in Abuja with the presidential candidates of the major political parties, not in attendance.
Among the presidential candidates that neither came nor sent representatives were Bola Ahmed Tinubu (All Progressives Congress); Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (Peoples Democratic Party); and Peter Obi (Labour Party).
But during the event shown live on Television, other presidential candidates reeled out their plans for a better Nigeria.
The Director-General of NDGD, Dr Onwubuya Breakforth, said the presidential Town Hall meeting was created to assist the electorates to make informed decisions as to who to elect among the 18 presidential candidates and make room for direct communication between the people at the grassroots and the candidates.
He said, “The candidates will address us on various issues but the difference will be on who proves to know how to enthrone a robust productive new Nigeria where all nationalities are neither discriminated nor denied their rights as bonafide citizens.
“We want to know the how rather than the normal rhetoric that is neither pragmatic nor evidential.
As Nigerians head to the polls, with barely two months to elect a new president along with state governors and legislators, millions of our people are ready with their PVCs.
“However, we are not in support of any candidate but will move towards a candidate who proves to have answers and capabilities to build a new Nigeria.’’
Break forth, therefore, charged voters to make the right choice in electing their leaders because their decision would either make or mar the future of Nigeria.
According to him, the NDGD has more than 22 million valued voters across the 8,813 elective wards and would use its number to make the right decision in the 2023 elections.
The presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, said his search for a better and new Nigeria was the reason he joined PDP and then later APC but however, said they were all bad government.
He said, “We believe in a new Nigeria, that was why when we started in this Republic, I started with the PDP. Unfortunately, when we were forming the PDP in 1998, we only had one issue kicking the military out.
“Then, when I became governor, we realized that we were completely different people in the same political party as people from the extreme right to the extreme left.
“We thought along the line that there should be a change especially as the party was failing, that was why we formed APC and now everybody believes it is even worse.
We thought it was necessary to bring an alternative, that was why we intended to register our party but INEC was not in hurry to do that. Therefore, we carefully selected NNPP based on its manifesto, beliefs and vision.
“We have a 152-page blueprint, we looked at all the issues and going by my antecedents as a civil servant and governor in Kano State, we believe our party is the best party to handle the crisis situation in Nigeria.”
Kwankwaso said he would tackle insecurity and increase the number of security agents and use technology and carry every Nigerian along in getting intelligence.
Kwankwaso promised to use his expertise as former governor of Kano state to bear in solving national issues.
He promised youth empowerment, scholarship and job creation to harness their potential and build infrastructure, quality healthcare delivery, and free anti-natal for women as well as boost the economy through various interventions.
“For our administration, no Nigerian child shall be denied the opportunity to write WAEC or NECO because of their inability to pay exorbitant registration and examination fees”, he said.
The presidential candidate of Action Alliance and for Chief Security Adviser to late General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, said his party studied Nigeria and noticed that the nation does not require routines but something away from the norm to address its challenges.
He said, “We discovered that there are a lot of games around the Nigerian state and unless we work it out and unless you know it, you will spend 1000 years without making a deference but adopting routines.
“We are not coming to provide leadership from the routine point of it. We are realistic, we are down to earth, we will take painful decisions, and we will take courageous decisions for the common good of Nigerians today and in future.
“So for our security, one of the major mistakes was mixing the police with the military. 23 years today, everybody is talking about hopelessness when it comes to physical security.
“We succeeded in demilitarizing the military and succeeded on the other hand in militarizing the police. So we are not comfortable with the two.”
Al-Mustapha, therefore, said the AA would do surgery in the security sector transforming it scientifically for new direction, doctrine, vision and physiological reorientation among others.
Mr Osakwe Johnson, the presidential candidate of the National Rescue Movement, Johnson Osakwe, said there was a need for the old leaders to take the back seat and allow the new generation to take over the affairs of the nation.
“Everyone will agree with me that in your wardrobe, we have what we call old clothes, the old clothes fade and you find it difficult to put them on. So, we are saying in 2023, old Nigerians, those who have governed us in the past should stand as advisers as lecturers, not forcing themselves on us so that Nigeria will continue the old ways of doing things.”
He said the NRM had a lot to offer the nation, adding that having been in the United States for 30 years and as a clergy, for 40 years he can govern Nigeria.
The presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party, Ado-Ibrahim Abdulmalik, said that although the nation was experiencing corruption, the greatest corruption was the corruption of other nations taking Nigeria’s best to their lands.
He said although the party would not be able to fix all the challenges of Nigeria in four or eight years, it could concentrate on fixing the electricity and boosting the power sector which is the bedrock of development.
“The world cannot work without electrical power, and we fool ourselves by saying we are going to do XYZ. But the basic human rights of power have not been given to us.
We must as a nation demand that from the next leader of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
“In Adamawa, I built a stand-alone power plant with six megawatts, the job requires bravery, vision, empathy but above all, the job requires that we work together.”
Abdulmalik said everybody is running from the country but the party will bring Nigerians back home.