Segun Sowunmi, the spokesperson of the Atiku Campaign Organisation, and Nigeria’s minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, recently clashed over the privatization programme of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was president and Atiku his vice.
Amaechi and Sowunmi clashed at the first 2019 presidential debate hosted by The Osasu Show and held at NAF Conference Centre and Suites, in Abuja.
Sowunmi represented the 2019 PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, while Amaechi was in the audience.
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was not represented at the debate, which had other presidential candidates in attendance.
A former minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, President of the Market Women Association of Nigeria, Mrs Felicia Sani; Chairman, DAAR Communications PLC, Raymond Dokpesi (jnr), the convener’s mother, who is also former First Lady of Edo State, Mrs Eki Igbinedion; were also present at the debate, among others.
The theme of the symposium was ‘Nigeria Rising! It’s Time: Establishing Social Accountability between the Electorate and Leaders.’
Sowunmi said during the administration of Obasanjo, privatization was embraced.
Sowunmi also said the action was taken in order to move the country in a direction of sustainable growth.
He added, “We were able to privatize some key sectors which expanded their ability to create jobs, expanded their ability to be sustainable and they were able to bring business discipline into the running of government.”
According to him, the totality of the past antecedents of Atiku, “together with the fact that he was in the civil service, being a former vice president, a consummate author and is interested in restructuring, there is no better candidate to govern the country now than Abubakar.”
Amaechi, who was not on the debate panel, raised up his hands to ask questions.
The former Rivers Governor said the privatization carried out by the PDP was not for the benefit of the public.
Amaechi claimed that the Obasanjo and Atiku presidency led a privatization of Nigeria’s assets to their cronies.
“The first question is that they privatized, to who? Who did they privatize to? To themselves, and they are coming back. Then I was a young man, I didn’t have money to buy.
“Question number two, let me thank the woman who said power had improved. Under them, with $16 billion, we had 3,000 megawatts of power, now we have 7,000.
“Three, and finally, on railways, we all go to Kaduna. We are talking about the railway, who has the railway? Our government right?” Amaechi asked.
In response, Sowunmi added, “An eight-year governor of a state in PDP comes to public space, riding on the alleged integrity of just president Muhammadu Buhari, and speaking trash to the people, what exactly is this?
“Now, we had assumed we had signed up to an issue-based campaign and, we just want to beg the operators of this present government to stick to the issues.
“We speak about opening up the economy to make sure that those who have the competencies to drive growth must be given the enabling environment to create value, and our people can plug in.”
Also speaking, the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, said, “Our country needs to be rescued. I don’t want to be president of Nigeria because there is an office to occupy. I really want to lead a process of rescuing our country from the precipice in which it finds itself.”
The former Minister added that, “when one looks at the fact that the situation of things in the country are not going to get any better because the nation is trapped in bad economic policies, which means that the nation won’t grow as much as it needed to, then, rescuing the nation is a must.”