RE: BUHARI V JONATHAN: BEYOND THE ELECTION By Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

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RE: BUHARI V JONATHAN: BEYOND THE ELECTION
By
Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

We commend Professor Chukwuma Soludo’s for his insightful and incisive article published on January 26th in the Vanguard Newspaper, The Nation Newspaper and major online news platforms under the above title. We agree with Professor Soludo that if the political parties, including ours, must justify the overwhelming enthusiasm of Nigerians about the 2015 elections we must remain focused on the issues that matter most to them, which is the progress of our country and the well being of our people. Indeed, this has been the driving conviction of our party and our campaign all along.
While we accept his critical comments on our party, more for the intentions than for the letters, we believe some clarifications would be quite necessary. We wish to emphasise that our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), presents a real option to Nigerians. Professor Soludo expressed the sentiments of most Nigerians when he spoke about the incalculable damage that the PDP under President Jonathan has done to the Nigerian economy and the unprecedented hardship that his six years of the locust has brought upon Nigerians.
However, the APC does not intend to ride into power on a mere rhetoric of ‘change’. The change that we propose is fundamental in many ways as it is critical to the very survival of our country. This in itself presents a major distinction between our party and the PDP. Perhaps, the most compelling argument against the People’s Democratic Party today is that its government and leadership does not even see that Nigeria is in trouble. While majority of our people wallow in abject poverty, and the gap in inequality gets ever wider by the day, yet PDP has basked in self-celebration of imagined accomplishments. How can a party or a government even begin to solve a problem that it does not believe exist? Like in all things, PDP is stuck in denial.
APC does not promise Eldorado. Neither our candidate nor our manifesto has made such promise. Our programs are based on the critical awareness of the difficult task ahead, while holding out a ray of hope to our people. The promises that we make reflect our innermost belief that the people must be at the centre of development. Especially, we believe that any economic growth that leaves the majority of the people behind, and does not protect the weakest and the vulnerable among us, is merely delusionary.
Professor Soludo has drawn our attention to the striking but unfortunate similarity in the nation’s economy in 1982-1984 period and what we are experiencing today. Back then, a period of sustained high crude oil prices had also ironically led to unsustainable debt levels and introduction of the austerity measure. Just as it happened more than three decades ago, it is difficult to explain how a sustained period of oil boom should ultimately lead to austerity measure except to say that huge opportunities that the period of boom presented were frittered away by mindless profligacy, wanton corruption and bad economic choices made by the PDP government, which has rewarded a protracted period of boom with uncertainty and austerity and is still asking for another mandate to do more damage.
If we sound upbeat in our manifesto, it is because we recognise that this crisis period also presents us a great opportunity to restructure the economy in a way that improves the quality of lives of our people by ensuring that our economic growth is job-led. Our party has identified job creation as a critical priority of government. We have noted with concerns that Nigeria’s unemployment rate of 23.9% should be seen as a national crisis. And if this government was more sensitive to the enormity of the challenge that this presents, it would be reluctant to jump all over the place in self celebration while so many of our youths are wasting away. In the immediate future, our priority is to tackle unemployment and provide good jobs by embarking on a massive programme of public works, building houses, roads, railways, ports and energy plants. Over the long term, we believe we must wean Nigeria off its dangerous addiction to oil, which currently provides 80% of our spending leaving us at the mercy of volatile international oil prices. Even as a federalist party, we believe that an economy that is dependent on a commodity that is so dangerously exposed to price volatility must always prepare for eventuality through savings and investments once the agreed thresholds are met. What we disagree with is the unilateral and arbitrary deductions in accruable revenues in a way that hampers the development of the federating States.
Going by the government’s own statistics, is it mere coincidence that the three States with the lowest unemployment rate – Osun, Lagos and Kwara – are all APC States? This is evidence of our Party’s ability to tackle this problem head-on. APC’s policy thrust will create an enabling environment and incentives for the formal and informal sectors to lead the quest for job creation. This will be done in addition to skills acquisition and enterprise- training to ensure our youths are equipped with the appropriate skills to take these jobs. Merely introducing a National Qualification Standards would power a whole new world of opportunities for our artisans by launching them into the international job markets. We note the issue that Professor Soludo picked with our figure of 720,000 jobs. We need to clarify that this is limited to immediate direct employment opportunities from public projects and maintenance works only. Our manifesto actually promises a lot more jobs but we see that as the product of the enabling environment we seek to create for private sector-led job creation, especially in high opportunity sectors like agriculture, construction, entertainment, tourism, ICT and sports. APC economic policy is driven by an overwhelming concern for the level of inequality in our country today. Specifically, to quote from our manifesto, we intend to achieve our job-creation agenda through:
· Massive public works programme especially the building of a national railway system (complete with tramline systems for our major cities), interstate roads, and ports. These projects must commence early in the life of the new administration.
· Establishing a new Federal Coordinating Agency – Build Nigeria – to fast track and manage these public works programmes with emphasis on Nigerian labour.
· Embarking vigorously on industrialization, public works and agricultural expansion.
· Diversifying the economy through a national industrial policy and innovative private-sector incentives that will move us away from over reliance on oil into value-added production especially manufacturing.
· Reviving textile and other industries that have been rendered dormant because of inappropriate economic policies.
· Reinvigorating the solid mineral sector by revamping our aged mining legislation and attracting new investment.
· Developing a new generation of domestic oil refineries to lower import costs, enhance our energy independence and create jobs.
· Working with state governments to turn the country into Africa’s food basket through a new system of grants and interest free loans, and the mechanization of agriculture.
· Encouraging and promoting the use of sports as a source of job creation, entertainment and recreation.
· Creating a knowledge economy by making Nigeria an IT /professional/Telecom services outsourcing destination hub to create millions of jobs.
· Filling the huge gap in middle level technical manpower with massive investment in technical and tradesmen’s skills education.
· Ensuring that all foreign contractors to include a plan of developing local capacity (technology transfer).
· Creation of six Regional Development Agencies covering the country with representatives from the Federal Government, States and the private sector to manage a new N300billion growth fund.
Our obsession with job creation stems from the fact that we believe we must focus on actions that would serve the twin purpose of closing the gap in inequality and creating opportunities for our people, especially the youth. Our current situation is dangerous for the stability of the country. The Human Development Index position ranks Nigeria 152 of 169 countries surveyed. This is incompatible with the present administration’s insistence on celebrating GDP growth and our absolute economic size hinged on a routine rebasing exercise. As many commentators have pointed out, rebasing the GDP is not an achievement. Rather, it is a mere statistical adjustment that does not impact on the real or imagined standards of living of the people. So, we also wonder what this PDP government is celebrating. And maybe it is not that difficult to explain when one discovers that a small elite has captured the state and converted our commonwealth into private gain, becoming disproportionately rich from massive corruption while poverty has deepened. The income gap and illicit capital flight are growing alarmingly. Instead of investing in modernizing our economy, massive theft has starved the country of desperately needed resources for infrastructure and public services and left us dangerously dependent on fluctuating global oil prices for our economic survival. For the ordinary Nigerian, the much-touted economic growth cited by the present administration has not translated into employment or development. Over 100 million Nigerians are struggling to make ends meet on a regular basis.
Furthermore, we understand Professor Soludo’s concern on the cost of implementing our various programmes, especially those relating to social welfare. The enormity of this challenge is not lost on us. We also know that sometimes, going into government is like buying a “no testing” electronic equipment. You may never know the true state of what you are buying until you get in. We want to assure Professor Soludo and other likeminded Nigerians that our policy team is looking at all the options – including the worst-case scenario of a completely empty treasury. We are however confident that by blocking avenues of wastages and corruption alone, savings could run into billions of Naira that could be deployed for productive use. Even so, we agree with Professor Soludo that savings from corruption alone will not tackle the enormous challenges we are likely to confront in government. We are however comforted by the fact that a four-year period provides opportunity for phased implementation while growing the resource base as well as changing the culture of graft while reducing the cost of governance.
Quite significantly, we know that periods of economic downturn also potentially provide opportunity to lay the foundation for real economic restructuring and development; and we can reflect on how Singapore under Premier Lee Kuan Yew and the United States of America under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used historic moments of economic downturn in their countries to launch a period of sustained development and a new deal for their people. General Buhari has never claimed to have the magic wand nor the answers to all of the country’s problems. His greatest assets would be his moral authority borne out of his self-sacrificing integrity, his sincerity of purpose and his patriotic zeal to return Nigeria to the path of progress and genuine development. He is committed to utilize competent and committed people of integrity wherever he may find them. This is precisely why he promised when flagging off his campaign in Port Harcourt on January 5, 2015 that if voted into power, it would be an opportunity to, in his words, “finally assemble a competent team of Nigerians to efficiently manage this country”. This is a clear sign that a meritocratic process will govern the appointment of those that would be entrusted with managing our economy and country. His stint as Head of State shows a track record of using self-sacrificing professionals in his governance team. His previous cabinet included the likes of Dr. Onaolapo Soleye, Professor Tam David-West and Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is determined to lead Nigeria in the direction of change that is so urgently required. And even as we prepare for the immediate rescue mission in 2015, our minds are also set on building the necessary democratic institutions that would entrench our ideological conviction as a progressive and people-centred party. A National Progressives Policy Institute is part of this plan in the near future but we are very clear about the enormity of the task ahead. We would not seek to underplay it. We are supremely confident that we are equal to the task and we appreciate the commitment of majority of Nigerians to this quest for change.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi heads the Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate of the APC Presidential Campaign

A Compendium Of Jonathan’s Unfulfilled Vows And Promises

by SONALA OLUMHENSE

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…..AND NOW JONA MAN HAS NO PLACE TO HIDE. NOTHING TO SHOW. 6 YEARS OF GOVERNANCE GONE DOWN THE DRAIN…

JONATHAN Vows to Contain Jos Crisis

(AllAfrica, Jan 19, 2010) Jonathan vows to consolidate the gains of the [Niger Delta] amnesty (CNIELTS, February 15, 2010)Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan vows to hold clean elections [Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 2010]

New Nigerian President Vows Electoral Reform Before Next Year’s Vote

[Voice of America, May 07, 2010] “…Our total commitment to good governance, electoral reform, and the fight against corruption will be pursued with greater vigor.”

Jonathan Vows to Tackle Erosion in South East

[AllAfrica, 24 February 2011]

Jonathan Vows to Prosecute Those Behind Violence

[AllAfrica, Apr 15, 2011]

Jonathan vows to end Boko Haram menace

[AFP, April 19, 2012]

Jonathan vows ‘major changes’ for Nigeria

[Dailymotion, April 20, 2011.

Jonathan Vows to Return Nation to Order

[Vanguard, 21 April 2011.

Nigeria: President Jonathan vows to address falling education standard

[West African Democracy Radio, May 18, 2011]

Nigerian President Vows to Strengthen Democratic Rule

[Voice of America, May 30, 2011]

Corruption: No more sacred cows, Jonathan vows

[Vanguard, July 26, 2011]; would rid the nation’s procurement process of all forms of corruption, he said at the fourth National Procurement Forum.

Nigerian president vows to bring terrorism under control, go after group that bombed U.N. building

[Associated Press, August 27, 2011]

UN Building Bombing – Jonathan Vows to Track Down Bombers

[Daily Trust, August 28, 2011]

Jonathan Vows To Crush Terror Groups, Says Sponsors of Terror groups now unveiled

[Nigeria Tribune, September 23, 2011]

Jonathan vows to fix public institutions, Says strong institutions recipe for Nigeria’s Greatness

(The Sun, Sep 28, 2011]

President Jonathan Vows to Combat Security as Nigeria Celebrates its 51st Independence Day

[IQ4News, October 1, 2011…

Jonathan Vows to get bombers

(Vanguard, October 2, 2010); “It is a wicked independence anniversary gift.”

President Jonathan vows war on crime, saying he had put in place a new national security strategy,

[Africa Review, October 2, 2011]

Jonathan vows war on crime as Nigeria turns 51

[Africa Review, October 3, 2011]

As Boko Haram changes gear, Mars Eid-El-Kabir celebrations in North, Jonathan vows to protect Nigerians

[National Daily Newspaper, November 6, 2011]

Christmas carnage in Nigeria, Nigeria’s president vows to bring those responsible to justice

[CNN, December 25, 2011]

President Jonathan Vows To Exterminate Boko Haram

[blanknewsonline, December 26, 2011]

Jonathan vows to “crush terrorists”

[Reuters, Dec 31, 2011]who set off a series of bombs across Nigeria on Christmas Day. “We assure Nigerians that we will protect them…We will crush the terrorists. If there are institutions … which are harbouring terrorists, we will deal with them.”

Jonathan vows to protect Nigerians

[National Daily], November 6, 2011

Jonathan vows vengeance; to “crush the terrorists” who set off a series of bombs across Nigeria on Christmas Day

[Mail & Guardian, South Africa, Dec 31, 2011]

..it’s fight to the finish, Jonathan vows [The Punch, January 1, 2012]… he would not spare any effort aimed at fighting the sect, which he described as a “group of evil-minded people,” to the end.

Jonathan vows to work for the welfare and wellbeing of all Nigerians

[Newsdiary, January 16, 2012]

Jonathan Vows to Check Destabilisation Plot

[ThisDay, January 17, 2012]

We’ll wipe out Boko Haram – Jonathan

[The Punch, January 23, 2012]; vowed in Kano the federal government would soon wipe out the dreaded Boko Haram

Jonathan vows stronger relations between Nigeria and Ethiopia

[Channels TV, Jan 31, 2012]

Jonathan vows to increase petrol refining capacity

[The Moment, February 3, 2012]

Jonathan vows to sack appointees over 2015 campaign

[ThisDay, Feb 21, 2012]

Jonathan vows justice

[The Nation, January 23, 2012]

Jonathan vows to replicate Asian Tiger feat in Nigeria

[Channels TV, March 26, 2012]

Revenge attacks follow Nigeria church blast, Goodluck Jonathan…vows “to end the spate of mindless attacks and killings“

Al Jazeera (12 March 2012]

Jonathan vows to fast-track power masterplan

(News Diary Online, March 26, 2012].

Jonathan Vows To End Boko Haram Menace In June

[March 28, 2012, Yonhap News Agency, South Korea]

Jonathan vows to end culture of favouritism

(Premium Times, April 12, 2012 ): “You don’t have to know somebody who knows somebody before you can be given any high office to serve in the new direction we want to chart for the country.”

I will deal with Boko Haram, Jonathan vows

[Apr 13, 2012]

Jonathan to sack heads of MDAs for distorting 2012 budget

[Premium Times, April 13, 2012]

Jonathan vows “to sack heads of departments and parastatals indicted for lobbying members of the National Assembly for upward review of their budget

(The Nation, April 14, 2012)

Jonathan vows to correct structural defects in education

[Vanguard, April 15, 2012 ), lamenting that the defects in the system were responsible for the failure of children.

Jonathan vows to end Boko Haram menace

[AFP News, April 19, 2012], “security situation in Nigeria is not as gloomy as it is painted and the government “is working very hard and that we’ll bring this under control…”

Jonathan vows to eradicate polio by 2015

(Channels Television, April 24, 2012): “One thing I promise the Nigerian child, and also the Nigerian father and mother is that if we cannot solve all the health problems in this country now, one thing this present administration is committed to is to eradicate polio by 2015”.

Fuel Subsidy report: Presidency vows to bring culprits to book

[The Punch, April 26, 2012]…would punish all those found culpable in the N1.07tn fuel subsidy scam.

Jonathan Vows To Punish Oil Thieves

[Nigerian Pilot, April 26, 2012]

President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed that his administration will not shield any corrupt person from investigation or prosecution by the anti-graft agencies in the country

REVISITING THAT FAYOSE’S VICTORY DURING THE LAST EKITI STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION OF JUNE 21, 2014 …LESSONS NEEDED FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS…

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LESSONS FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS…

BY

SEGUN ADEYI

REVISITING THAT FAYOSE’S VICTORY DURING THE LAST EKITI STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION OF JUNE 21, 2014…

I have decided to effect a revisit to the above in summary, and in view of the fast approaching Valentine Day Presidential Elections in Nigeria simply to warn the APC against being complacent, and to be up in feelers, and that is with reference to the unimaginable level of brilliance, as well as the super- capabilities of the ruling party, PDP and the Federal Government when it comes to election, and their ability to deploy and use ALL the ‘weapons’ at their disposal to win any election ‘war’.

Listen guys, don’t allow yourself to be kidded, PDP treats and executes every aspect of any election like a war, and apart from the fact that PDP, having enjoyed the spoils of the ‘war’ over a period of 16 years, and even in spite of any reasonable result to show for it, will not go without a Great War. That’s the truth.

I was not just on ground during the Ekiti State election of June 21, 2014, I was in the thick of monitoring the progress of the field work in all of the 16 LGs. The field work with reference to how the election was going, the preparation and deployment of equipment and personnels, following up on the voters and the trajectory of voting patterns, while not excluding the rate at which the might of the Federal Security Agents was dealing with anything that was having to do with the interest of the APC, as well as the Incumbent Governor.

For anyone believing the whole lot of the Security Agents with their might will not be deployed and use by the Federal Government to the detriment of the opposition parties needs Brain Surgery. I cannot say it any cleaner.

While the Defence Minister, Musiliu Obanikoro ( he arrived Akure Airport, on his way to Ado-Ekiti, the Wednesday before the Saturday, 21st with 2 Private Jets! ) was having a field day on that Election Day with his nastily intimidating body / security guards, his Police Affairs counterpart was not far behind in the exhibition of every ‘toy’ in his possession. For that guy, if the stationing of those 4 / 5 helicopters on a school ground was not intimidating enough, coming round, every hour, and cycling above the Country Home of the DR. JK Fayemi’s five times before retreating, and only to come back again was a definitive statement of intention. It was spirit breaking. The scene lasted the whole period of the ballot casting that memorable and unforgettable day. We hard slept during the night of 20th, as the ‘enemy’ security agents were constantly demanding to see Mr. governor, all through the night! All amounting to some huge level of psychological warfare to break the spirit.

I got to the voting place before the Governor, as I decided to walk the almost 2 mile distance. I had the opportunity of casting my vote immediately after JK, and while I noticed the parallel folding of the ballot paper before being handed over to me, the glossy nature of the paper caught my attention as well. However, nothing was inferred, at least not at that stage.

While I applied what was supposed to be an indelible ink, and thumbed same on the glossy ballot paper, I had an immediate observation of the ink disappearing from my finger, while the one on the ballot paper was equally observed to be fading fast!

I was thinking, what’s going on! While seriously apprehensive with quick thinking that what I was observing was not in the least normal, I had a thought of thumb printing on ALL of the boxes, but then, that was going to render the ballot paper useless. I was not there to make my vote useless. JK was almost finishing with his press interview, and I was not ready to do the long walk back to the Operational Centre to face the ordeal of being harassed by those Choppers again, I decided to drop the ballot paper into the ballot box, and forcefully too, and joined HE in one of the vehicles back to the house.

Then, monitoring of the field voting activities continued. This was essentially a network system of IT and Communications infrastructures at the back-end of solution provisioning.

Between 2 and 3 pm, the observation was such that a massive deviation was noticed from the usual and the normal expectations and pattern of voting pattern. I decided to effect some notifications, and some escalations were made to the relevant quarters. While it was thought, ballot box snatching might be what the opposition might want to rely on, it was not to be. The fact was that even in those few LGs where we were expecting them to be out in droves, they were out, casting their votes in bits.

By 1600 hours, voting had effectively ended, which was surprising. Then results started trickling in from the Collation Centres. The first result was from one from a Ward that was expected to be a run-over for APC. It went to the opposition, and the same pattern was the repetition all through, and by 1900 hours, ALL the 16 Local Governments had gone to the Opposition.

We knew something was not normal, but no one was able to explain precisely what was amiss, except that we started talking about the ‘disappearing ink’. We left Isan for Ado, and on getting back to the Governor’s Lodge, and not until everyone started recounting their observations and experience of the ‘ disappearing ballot paper / ink” did we realise we had been scammed by PDP.

Thus we discovered the magic of Photochromic Scientific Rigging had been employed and tested successfully for the very first time in Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria, and on that strength, the election had been won and lost.

I make bold to state that without the assistance of the Photochromic rigging, the strength of those disgruntled voters would NEVER have swung the chance of victory pendulum to Fayose at all. Fayose won the election on the basis of the successful application and deployment of that scientific system of rigging. If there was one thing we never checked on prior to the election, that was it. Of course, Oshun State benefitted immensely from our nasty experience.

So APC, let the Back-end Project Managers note all of whatever is relevant from the above, and leave no stone untouched, especially for the fast approaching Presidential Elections. Campaign ground crowd is good, but doesn’t sway me in the least. The same group of people that attended your rally will also be found when the opposition comes calling, especially as money will always be factored into it all. I am available in case you need me.

Presidency 2015: North still holds the ace

Presidency 2015: North still holds the ace

By: Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation, Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor, Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor and Sunday Oguntola

In less than three weeks Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president. As the race becomes more intense a complex mix of factors in different states would shape the eventual outcome. In this piece, Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation, Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor, Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor and Sunday Oguntola, present a status report as the race enters the home stretch.

More than at any other period in the history of the Fourth Republic, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is on the edge. It is fighting tooth and nail to cling to power in a tight race. There’s no one better qualified to confirm this than National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), who said in London on Thursday that “the emergence of a seemingly viable opposition, as well as the closeness of the race is a clear demonstration of our maturing democracy…”

Investigations by our reporters in various states of the federation indicate that the votes haul from three zones in the North as well as the outcome in the South-West could be pivotal determining the race. In the South-South-South and South-East, the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan retains strong support. However, in-fighting in the PDP in Ebonyi, Imo, Akwa Ibom and even in the president’s home state, Bayelsa, could lead to a significant drop in his share of votes cast.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) is expectedly to perform markedly better in aforementioned two zones than he did in 2011 – benefitting from the bitter fallout of the PDP squabbles and the stronger platform on which he’s running this time around.

If the elections were held today, these are the projected outcome as put together by our editorial team tracking the contest from state to state.

KEBBI

The PDP has lost more ground to the opposition in the last three weeks. Just a few days ago, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, Sen. Mohammed Magoro, defected to APC in looks like a political development that has broken the camel’s back.

The tumultuous crowd which heralded Buhari’s visit to Birnin Kebbi signposts an advantage for APC. With ex-Governor Adamu Aliero and other stalwarts of PDP now in APC, a 60-40 victory might be imminent for the opposition in Kebbi.

Verdict: Buhari

NIGER

In spite of the drafting of Senate President, David Mark, Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang and Federal Capital Territory Minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed to lend a helping hand to the embattled Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, things are falling apart for PDP in the state.

The climax of PDP’s misfortunes was the defection of Deputy Governor Ahmed Musa Ibeto to APC with 300 others. The defection suggested an undertone of backing by some kingmakers in the state because it came shortly after ex-President Ibrahim Babangida declared support for Buhari.

Apparently hitting back at one of the godfathers, an angry Governor Aliyu said: “They said I went to IBB over those who defected. I have passed the stage of begging anybody…” A 70-30 race advantage for APC is likely here.

Verdict: Buhari

KWARA

The situation of PDP in Kwara State has reached a pathetic stage that about N80million was allegedly budgeted to hire crowd to welcome Jonathan to the state. Jolted by the substantial loss of grip by the party, the new financier of PDP in the state, Hajiya Bola Shagaya and the Minister of National Planning, Dr. Suleiman Olanrewaju Abubakar, had to relocate to Ilorin to start mobilizing the crowd.

Shagaya’s politics and the poor choice of candidates at all levels by the party for the February poll has made it an easy ride for APC so far. In fact, some forces in the Presidency are already reaching out to Kwara’s games master, ex-Governor Bukola Saraki to bend a bit and concede 25 per cent of the total votes in the state to PDP during the presidential election on February 14. It is 80-20 percent in favour of APC in Kwara.

Verdict: Buhari

BAUCHI

The booing and jeering at the PDP rally on Thursday in Bauchi State showed disenchantment with the ruling party in the state. The administration of Governor Isa Yuguda is said to be owing teachers and civil servants arrears of salaries leading to protest and stoning of the presidential convoy.

The cold war between PDP leaders in the state also led to the heckling of the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed at the presidential rally. Since the PDP did not win the state in 2011, the political dynamics are yet to change – notwithstanding the fact that the national chairman of the ruling party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, hails from the state. The odds point to an 80-20 per cent vote split in favour of APC.

Verdict: Buhari

SOKOTO

The President and members of his campaign council needed no soothsayer during the week to read the handwriting on the wall that the defection of ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa had not added much electoral value to the chances of PDP.

The likely protest votes by PDP members in the state who are still angry over the outcome of governorship primaries, points to a solidified advantage for APC. Unless the Deputy Governor, Mukhtar Shagari and his faction are appeased, the contest could turn out to be 75-25 in favour of APC.

Verdict: Buhari

KOGI

The alleged poor or slow performance of Governor Idris Wada (occasioned by the indebtedness of ex-Governor Ibrahim Idris administration) has created disenchantment with PDP in the state because of salary arrears. But the ruling party is relying on its usual winning formula of ethnic and religious politics, especially in Kogi East where the Director-General of Jonathan campaign council, Dr.

Ahmadu Ali comes from.

The President realized Wada’s challenges and he has decided to mobilize more forces and loyalists like Sen. Smart Adeyemi, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), oil magnate Jide Omokore among others to secure Kogi Central and Kogi West districts. A 55-45 per cent victory is likely for PDP in Kogi State.

Verdict: Jonathan

TARABA

The recent reconciliation of warring PDP leaders and the adoption of a power-sharing formula which resulted in a no-victor, no-vanquished resolution has foreclosed any significant inroad for APC presidential candidate, Buhari who has always lost in the state.

The larger-than-life profile of former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd), the minority politics in the North, ethnic sentiments against the Hausa-Fulani and religious considerations have all combined to weigh against the APC. A 75-25 per cent race to the advantage of PDP is expected here.

Verdict: Jonathan

KADUNA

Unlike the case between 1999 and 2007, the PDP is battling for survival in Kaduna State to sustain the ‘victory’ it narrowly claimed in 2011 when it took advantage of post-election violence. The persistent insurgency in Southern Kaduna has made the ruling party lose the sympathy of minorities in the state.

Buhari’s recent campaign here was a showstopper. Kaduna is also his base as well as home state of Vice-President Namadi Sambo. The state government is currently controlled by PDP. In 2011, Buhari polled 1, 334, 244 votes to narrowly defeat Jonathan who scored 1,190, 179 votes. APC may win again with a slight margin.

Verdict: Battleground

PLATEAU

Plateau is one state to watch in the light of unfolding twists and turns by key political actors. A former Deputy Governor of the state, Paullen Tallen, Senator John Damboyi, defected to APC with some PDP stalwarts in protest against the outcome of the governorship primaries. Though APC’s mileage might improve, the equation may still favour PDP because of ethnic and religious politics.

Being a core Middle Belt state, the people of Plateau State are unlikely to vote for an Hausa-Fulani man like Buhari. This is almost like hereditary political culture here. The success of the ongoing reconciliation of aggrieved PDP members is reuniting the ruling party in the state. A 70-30 percent split in favour of PDP is predicted.

Verdict: Jonathan

ZAMFARA

The failed bid of PDP for ex-Governor Sani Yerima has proved to be the party’s albatross in Zamafara State where the opposition is still waxing stronger since 1999. Though PDP is trying to improve its electoral fortunes, the APC may retain the state in 80-20 per cent judging by response to the campaign trains of PDP and APC.

The reduced involvement of the Minister of Defence, Gen. Aliyu Gusau (retd) in the politics of the state has sustained Yerima’s political grip on Zamfara.

Verdict: Buhari

ADAMAWA

The emergence of a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, as the party’s governorship candidate has polarized and decimated PDP in the state. To pave the way for Ribadu, the state PDP Executive Committee led by Joel Madaki was dissolved.

Other stakeholders have, however, ganged up to work against PDP. The impending loss of the state by PDP made Jonathan’s godfather, Chief Edwin Clark, to openly attack the National Chairman of the party, Adamu Muazu, last Saturday.

Realizing that the political calculation was not adding up for PDP, the Jonathan has ordered the reinstatement of the suspended State Executive Committee to embark on a reconciliation programme. But it might be too late because most PDP heavyweights have either joined APC or the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).

This was why Governor Bala Ngilari called for the postponement of the poll in Adamawa State to enable PDP put its house in order. If the ongoing reconciliation in succeeds, it might be 55-45 split in favour of APC. Otherwise, the PDP might not get up to 15 per cent of the votes because Adamawa people are really angry with the party.

Verdict: Battleground

BENUE

It is still too close a match in Benue State between the PDP and APC. For the second time since 1999, the ruling party is struggling to maintain its hold on the state. The defection of PDP bigwigs like ex-Minister Samuel Ortom and Chief Barnabas Gemade, the crisis between Governor Gabriel Suswam and workers, and opposition to imposition of the governorship candidate have made the task difficult for the President of the Senate, David Mark, who is the party’s leader in the state. The race is certainly 50-50 because APC may clinch two senatorial tickets in the state.

Verdict: Too close to call

GOMBE

The incessant clampdown on key opposition figures and the plot to arrest them en masse before the February elections points to some panic on the part of the ruling PDP. The tense atmosphere got to a level that the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan on how the state government was planning to implicate the state’s political godfather, ex-Governor Danjuma Goje. The APC is certainly creating campaign waves in the state and may clinch the state in a 60-40 per cent split.

Verdict: Buhari

JIGAWA

Going by his continuous lambasting of opposition leaders, Governor Sule Lamido still has his heart in PDP although he may not have faith in the presidential candidate of the party. Until the PDP campaign train hit the North-West, he had basically stood aloof as if he was oblivious of the stakes.

The scenario may be 80-20 in favour of APC during the presidential election because the APC candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has always won Jigawa with or without Lamido’s political structure. But in other stanzas of the February poll, which are local affairs, PDP may win 70-30 per cent.

Verdict: Buhari

KATSINA

This is Buhari’s home state and an APC stronghold. Were it not for disagreement among the leaders of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the PDP would have lost in 2011. With its house in order this time around, the opposition is very strong in the state because virtually all the leaders wielding political influence in the state are in support of the APC. Governor Ibrahim Shema is taking everything in his strides to manage the volatile political situation in the state which had been fueled by the PDP’s mismanagement of Buhari’s WASC results. The campaign so far has shown an 80-20 percent outlook in favour of the general.

Verdict: Buhari

KANO

The unprecedented crowd which welcomed the APC campaign council to Kano during the week was reminiscent of Second Republic politics. It sent jitters through the PDP and the Presidency which tried to make up with another rally to prove that it has earned some mileage too.

The defection of the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, has added much value to the rating of PDP but it is insignificant to dislodge APC from the state. Shekarau appears to be a lone ranger. A 70-30 per cent performance is expected to the credit of APC. So, the president may get the mandatory 25 per cent in Kano State if the party tries to close its divided ranks before the poll.

Verdict: Buhari

BORNO

This is a natural terrain of the opposition even though the Boko Haram insurgency has not allowed parties to embark on aggressive campaigning. Since the First Republic, no ruling party including the PDP, has been able to win the state. This is rooted in cultural history and political belief not to play second fiddle to the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy.

The Boko Haram insurgency has forced the people of the state to yearn for change and oppose PDP. Though a former Governor of the state, Sen. Modu Ali Sheriff defected from APC to PDP, his new party surprisingly dropped him as one of its senatorial candidates.

The twist may cause more headaches for PDP in the state. The permutations point to an 80-20 percent APC victory. The decision of the military to launch a full-scale war in the North-East against Boko Haram any moment from now is seen as a ploy to destabilize Adamawa, Borno and Yobe – making conditions for free and fair voting virtually impossible.

Verdict: Buhari

YOBE

Like Borno, the state remains largely a stronghold of the APC having been in opposition since 1999. A former governor of the state, Sen. Bukar Abba Ibrahim and other leaders have remained the backbone of the APC in the state and their structure in the last 16 years has proved hard to dismantle.

But the choice of a former Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri (who is contesting for the office for the fourth time) as the PDP governorship candidate, may make it a walkover for APC. Barring any improvement by PDP on its past records, the contest can be 70-30 to the credit of APC. But APC leaders have to be circumspect because of the new initiative by the military to launch a massive campaign against Boko Haram insurgents which may displace many eligible voters.

Verdict: Buhari

NASARAWA

The internal crisis within the PDP over governorship primaries has led to the defection of ex-Minister Labaran Maku to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which poses no threat to the ruling APC. The implication is that the votes of Eggon people, who are desperate to rule the state, will be split between PDP and APGA leaving other ethnic groups to queue behind the opposition coalition, APC which is doing well in the state.

The ill-fated impeachment plot against Governor Tanko Al-Makura by PDP/ presidency and the purported death of Baba Alakyo ( the spiritual leader of the Eggon), and the defection of a former Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu, have compounded the electoral woes of the PDP in the state. A 70-30per cent rating in favour of APC is likely.

Verdict: Buhari

FCT

The PDP is presently engaged in marathon and hectic campaign to the nooks and crannies of the Federal Capital Territory. The opposition needs to rev up its strategy instead of taking things for granted that people desire change. It is presently a 60-40 percent in favour of PDP in the FCT. APC can fill up the gap with aggressive outreach before the poll because the opposition used to be stronger in Kuje and Kwali Districts unlike the case now.

Verdict: Jonathan

AKWA IBOM

Akwa Ibom State has always been a stronghold of the PDP. But the state is no longer firmly in the hands of the ruling party. The APC) has swelled its ranks with defectors from PDP. Its governorship candidate, Umana Umana, is the state’s erstwhile Secretary to the State Government (SSG). More and more people are attending his campaigns. There are also 22 aggrieved PDP governorship aspirants that have vowed to be fun spoilers for the party.

However, zonal solidarity with Jonathan as well as well as an incumbent governor with a heavy war chest would tilt the state in the president’s favour.

Verdict: Jonathan

CROSS RIVER

Had things turned out the way the opposition wanted, there might have been slim hope of a Buhari upset in Cross River. And really things were moving into that direction. The PDP congresses were strongly disputed. It took massive intervention from the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the party to calm frayed nerves.

The governorship primary was another bumpy ride. It pitched long-time allies such as Governor Liyel Imoke and his predecessor, Donald Duke, against themselves. The Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, was also on a collision course with the governor.

Leading aspirants like Mr. Jeddy Agba, were disqualified from the contest, leaving the emergence of Senator Ben Ayade, a mere formality. But the PDP has managed to put its house in order, or so it seems. Agba, who was expected to contest on an alternative platform, has dropped the ambition, vowing to support the PDP and Ayade. President Jonathan is expected to win well in the state.

Verdict: Jonathan

RIVERS

With 2,537,590 registered voters, Rivers State has the highest voting population in the South-South region. Under normal circumstances, Jonathan would have gone to bed fully assured he had those votes in his kitty. But not anymore. Things have changed drastically since Governor Rotimi Amaechi led supporters to join the APC.

The choice of Dakuru Peterside as APC’s governorship candidate has improved the party’s fortunes in Rivers, eroding the massive support base of the President in his wife’s home state.

But Jonathan’s chances cannot be just written off yet in the state. He has foot soldiers such as PDP’s governorship candidate, Nyesom Wike, on ground. His wife’s kinsmen will also most certainly prefer him to a northerner, all things being equal.

The equations, however, seem to favour Buhari, who has wisely chosen Amaechi as Director General of his campaign. Amaechi has to deliver to justify the confidence reposed in him. This is why the state will be a battleground for the leading presidential hopefuls.

Verdict: Battleground

BAYELSA

Though things are not at ease with the PDP in Bayelsa State, it is almost taken that President Jonathan will carry his home state. Even if every other states turn against the President, his kinsmen are certain to stick with him, come rain or sunshine.

Governor Seriake Dickson is reportedly uncomfortable with Jonathan who believed to be indisposed to the governor’s reelection bid in 2016. The governor has flushed out elements with ties to Jonathan and his wife from his cabinet. He has also moved against activities of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), the umbrella organisation for Jonathan’s reelection campaign in the state.

Relations between the governor and presidency are at the lowest ebb but they are not expected to have any direct bearing on the voting pattern next month. The voters will certainly pick the son of the soil, Jonathan, over every other person, performance or non-performance.

The only snag is that the President’s home state only boasts 610,373 voters. Even if all of them get to vote, they are not likely to have significant impact in the general direction of the poll.

Verdict: Jonathan

DELTA

Ethnic and religious factors could work against any Buhari upset in the state but they also threaten to trim the margin of any PDP victory here. Jonathan will have to stave off mounting opposition against him in the state. The Itsekiri, for exemaple, are angry that the inauguration of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) was unceremoniously abandoned by the president under pressure from former militant leader, Chief Government ‘Tompolo’ Ekpemupolo.

There is also the shoddy handling of the governorship primaries. Even though many believe Senator Ifeanyi Okowo won fair and square, his emergence came at the expense of entrenched interests in the state. The Urhobos are aggrieved the governorship slot was not ceded to them, but a delegation of the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) pledged support for Jonathan during a recent Aso Villa visit.

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is also said not to be a happy man. He was forced to drop his senatorial ambition for the return of James Manger, an Ijaw man, said to have the backing of Jonathan. His preferred successor, John Obuh, also lost the governorship slot, coming a distant third.

Like Uduaghan, many PDP members in Delta are disgruntled. But many will still root for Jonathan but may play the spoilers in the gubernatorial poll. Buhari would benefit from some protest votes to secure the 25% he needs.

Verdict: Jonathan

EDO

With the APC firmly in control of the state, analysts are predicting its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, might record an upset in Edo.

This optimism is not out of place. Governor Adams Oshiomhole has proven to be in control of the state apparatus. His infrastructural development of the state has won many hearts. The PDP in Edo is near comatose. It operates only in the fringes.

With the APC’s structure waxing stronger in the state, it is expected that Buhari will pull many votes. A 60-40 percent votes split in the presidential poll in favour of APC is predicted.

Verdict: Buhari

OSUN

In Osun State, which is firmly under the control of the APC, Jonathan may find it difficult to get listening ears during his campaigns. Consequently, his performance at the polls will be abysmal, pundits say. The mammoth crowd that thronged the Osogbo City Sports Stadium to receive Buhari last week when he visited the state in continuation of his presidential campaign, according to observers, is a sign of things to come.

This will be no surprise in Osun where, in spite of his good showing in the region in 2011, the President still lost to the ACN by a wide margin. With Governor Rauf Aregbesola still in charge and the PDP declining in status by the day, Buhari is positioned to win massively in the state.

Aregbesola’s convincing victory during last year’s governorship election and the rancor that saw PDP losing two former Governors of the state, Isiaka Adeleke and Olagunsoye Oyinlola to the APC in quick succession will also work against Jonathan in the state. The defection of Adeleke significantly assisted Aregbesola to garner sufficient votes in Osun West Senatorial District during the last August 9 governorship election in the state, as the areas were the strongholds of the PDP. Most likely, it will be an 80-20 situation in favor of Buhari in the February election in this state.

Verdict: Buhari

EKITI

The likely outcome of the election in Ekiti is too close to call. This is because of the current political scenario in the state. During the June 21, 2014 governorship election held in Ekiti State, the APC failed to retain the state, which it lost to PDP. The surprise emergence of Ayodele Fayose as governor of the state is no doubt a boost for President Jonathan and the PDP in the February election. If the preference of Fayose, an unrepentant Jonathan supporter is to count, then PDP will carry the day.

However, the APC is not likely to go down without a good fight in the state given the fact that it is in the majority in the House of Assembly as well as National Assembly members in the state. The fact that it was in charge of the state for four years barely months back, is also an advantage for Buhari. In addition, the reconciliation of Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party in the last election with the APC leadership will give PDP more troubles. Coupled with this is the belief in some quarters that the people of Ekiti will also vote for the progressive party alongside their counterparts in other South West states.

Verdict: Too close to call

ONDO

Here, the political drama that saw the massive decamping of major political actors from one political party to the other, which started in 2014 and continued into the New Year, will have serious impact on how the people will vote in February.

With the now ruling PDP torn into shreds and the Labour Party no longer in Governor Olusegn Mimiko’s kitty, coupled with a fast growing opposition APC in the same state, pundits say though Jonathan may still do well in the state considering its proximity to his native Bayelsa State and the large presence of Ijaw speaking communities in the oil producing area of the state, he will definitely record a lesser percentage of votes this time.

But with Buhari running on the platform of the APC this time and the general feeling of marginalisation among the Yorubas, his performance in the mainland and other parts of the state are too early to predict. The situation in Ondo is a close race with an unpredictable outcome.

Verdict: Too close to call

LAGOS

President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to kick-off his campaign in Lagos, underlines the pivotal role the electorate in this state would play in determining who wins this election.

The most popular position is that Buhari will outshine Jonathan at the polls in Lagos State. The political base of APC’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the state will naturally support its ruling party. This is because the APC image has continued to soar by the day. Campaigns by the party so far across the state have witnessed huge crowds.

Although the PDP has tried to paper over the cracks that attended its governorship primaries, Buhari is in pole position to get the mandate of the people of the state on February 14 with a 75-25 vote split scenario.

Verdict: Buhari

OGUN

An array of PDP chieftains, including controversial Buruji Kashamu, former party boss, Joju Fadairo and Doyin Okupe, amongst others, are working round the clock to deliver the votes in the state to Goodluck Jonathan. They are no doubt determined to beat the APC to second place in the February election.

But matching the popularity and the wide acceptance of Governor Ibikunle Amosun is a huge task for Jonathan’s men. Consequently, Buhari’s visit to Abeokuta few days back was a huge success that saw the people of the Gateway State trooping out to see him.

An earlier visit by Jonathan also saw a mammoth crowd but the frenzy that greeted the APC rally gave indication of where the votes may go. Amosun’s track record of achievements, especially in the area of urban renewal, which has seen the massive construction of roads and bridges across the state will be an added advantage for his party.

Also, the seeming ‘siddon look’ attitude of people like former Governor Gbenga Daniel, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Jubril Martins Kuye and a host of other aggrieved PDP leaders may work against Jonathan in the state unless something urgent is done.

The indisputable political place of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and his unhidden opposition to Jonathan’s aspiration will also work in favor of Buhari and his party. Expect a 70-30 percent vote split on February 14.

Verdict: Buhari

OYO

In Oyo state, the tattered state of Jonathan’s party may aid Buhari’s victory. He may likely do far better than Jonathan in the state given the fact that APC is in control of the state. Pundits also say apart from being an APC controlled state, Oyo is a core Yoruba state where the feeling of marginalisation is deep rooted.

Although the likes of Jumoke Akinjide, Jonathan’s Minister from the state, and Senator Teslim Folarin, gubernatorial candidate, are of the opinion that the people will vote for the Presdient in February, indications that this may not be so are numerous. The daily defection of party leaders from the PDP, which started with the exit of former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala remains an issue.

With APC determined to hold on to the state, enjoying the support of all the first class monarchs including Alaafin of Oyo, Soun of Ogbomosho, Olubadan of Ibadan etc, Jonathan may find it difficult getting votes in Oyo.

Verdict: Buhari

ABIA

Since 1999, Abia has remained a PDP stronghold, notwithstanding the brief period when the former governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, in protest against alleged marginalization, floated a rival party, PPA, to which he carried the state machinery to complete his second tenure.

Abia had since returned to PDP and the current governor, Chief Theodore Orji, is a passionate supporter of Jonathan and, as insiders say, a very close friend of the president.

This being the case, there is no doubt that the governor, who is also flying the party’s senatorial flag for Abia Central Senatorial District, is poised to throw his weight behind Jonathan’s re-election and PDP’s victory in all the elections.

Aside utilising the governor’s incumbency factor to win votes for Jonathan, the fact that the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan’s mother hailed from the state, has been maximally utilised to mobilize support for Jonathan in the state.

Jonathan is likely to win the presidential election in Abia but not with 98 percent as was the case in 2011. In fact, most respondents to The Nation’s questions are optimistic that Buhari may get above 20 percent votes here unlike the abysmal 0.31 percent he got in 2011. His reception during his recent campaigns says a lot about current political sensibilities here.

Verdict: Jonathan

EBONYI

Changing realities have made the political story of Ebonyi State very intriguing. Although a traditional PDP stronghold, which gave Jonathan 95.57 percent of its votes in 2011, Ebonyi State has become a major battle ground in the February 14 presidential election.

Under normal circumstances, Jonathan and his party, the PDP, would have easily cleared the votes here but for the ripple effects from the crisis in the party, which culminated in the political coup that dislodged control of the party from Governor Martin Elechi, the emergence of his deputy as the PDP flag bearer and the decision of Elechi’s men to the Labour Party.

Considering assertions that Elechi had firm control of the PDP political machinery at the grassroots before the coup from Abuja, and that he allowed his men to carry everything to Labour Party, analysts are contending that Labour may not only win the governorship election in the state, but may, in order to prove a point, vote against Jonathan at the presidential race.

Added to this is the increasing strength of the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, where Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu’s influence has come to play.

Bookmakers say any of the two leading presidential candidates can take the prize at the February 14 election, given the depth of bitterness, betrayals, and resolve to pay back.

Verdict: Too close to call.

ENUGU

Enugu State is another PDP stronghold where a Jonathan victory would have been seen as a given. But the rivalry between the outgoing governor, Sullivan Chime, and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, just before the last primaries, dealt a major blow to the party in the state. Insiders said the opposition political parties – especially the APC used that opportunity to make great incursion into the state at the grassroots.

However, following the dramatic reconciliation of the Ekweremadu-led faction of PDP in Enugu and that of Chime, Jonathan’s supporters are optimistic he will still win in the state, where he got 98.54 percent votes against Buhari’s 0.36 percent in 2011.

While it may not be out of place for PDP to be optimistic that Jonathan will win in Enugu, informed observers cannot deny that many interests have been hurt in the pre-election politicking. This includes but not limited to the bitterness of the Senator Ayogu Eze’s camp of the PDP, which some close associates insist is yet to be properly handled.

Added to this is the dynamic campaign of Okey Ezea-led APC, which is poised to serve as a major boost to Buhari’s political fortunes in the state in February. With its Catholic dominated population, there is also the fear in the PDP camp that Father Ejike Mbaka’s recent sermon, may sway some precious votes to Buhari’s box. An 80-20 percent split in Jonathan’s favour is expected.

Verdict: Jonathan

ANAMBRA

Though an APGA-led state, Anambra has consistently voted for PDP at the presidential election. In 2011 Jonathan got 98.96 percent of all the votes cast at the presidential contest.

If not for the changing political sensibilities in the South-East zone, one would have predicted the same trend, since APGA, as it did in 2011, is not fielding its presidential candidate but has pledged to queue behind PDP’s Jonathan.

Given that boost, Jonathan will do well in Anambra State. But as the prose master, Chinua Achebe, who hails from this state, wrote in one of his great novels, things are ‘No longer at ease’ here. The political atmosphere is likely to influence the voting pattern, meaning that the opposition will make great impact here during this election unlike what played out in 2011.

The factors that are poised to make the change in February include the Dr Alex Ekwueme factor, the Rev Father Mbaka’s factor and Chris Ngige-led All Progressives Congress’ growing influence in the state. Jonathan is likely to win in Anambra State but Buhari is almost certain to get 25 percent votes here.

Verdict: Jonathan

IMO

Imo State, which used to be a People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) stronghold, is currently an APC state under the Rochas Okorocha -led government. The state boasts of very strong and popular politicians in PDP, who have sworn to ensure a return of the state power to the party. But as former Vice President Ekwueme pointed out in1958037_821477471249742_7163255002926202140_n-2 his recent interview, Imo is not isolated in the crisis rocking PDP in the South-East. In fact, the elder statesman was quoted as lamenting that Imo PDP is “not serious.”

Given this scenario and the fact that Okorocha, whose first term scorecard is widely rated very high, is flying the governorship flag of APC for the February elections, there is the likelihood that more than any other South-East state, APC presidential candidate, Buhari is poised to defeat his major opponent, Jonathan in this state.

Verdict: Buhari

‪#‎NationNews‬

President Obama’s State of the Union Address — Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

President Obama’s State of the Union Address — Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

There is a ritual on State of the Union night in Washington. A little before the address, the White House sends out an embargoed copy of the President’s speech to the press (embargoed means that the press can see the speech, but they can’t report on it until a designated time). The reporters then start sending it around town to folks on Capitol Hill to get their reaction, then those people send it to all their friends, and eventually everyone in Washington can read along, but the public remains in the dark.

This year we change that.
For the first time, the White House is making the full text of the speech available to citizens around the country online. On Medium, you can follow along with the speech as you watch in real time, view charts and infographics on key areas, tweet favorite lines, and leave notes. By making the text available to the public in advance, the White House is continuing efforts to reach a wide online audience and give people a range of ways to consume the speech.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.

But tonight, we turn the page.

Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.

Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service.

America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:

The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.

At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?

Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?

Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another — or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?

In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan. And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas.

So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.

It begins with our economy.

Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way.

They were young and in love in America, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

“If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”

As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise. Ben is back in construction — and home for dinner every night.

“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.

America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.

We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.

We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.

We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.

We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.

At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.

So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way. We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.

Today, thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives. Wages are finally starting to rise again. We know that more small business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007. But here’s the thing — those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. We need to do more than just do no harm. Tonight, together, let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American.

Because families like Rebekah’s still need our help. She and Ben are working as hard as ever, but have to forego vacations and a new car so they can pay off student loans and save for retirement. Basic childcare for Jack and Henry costs more than their mortgage, and almost as much as a year at the University of Minnesota. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.

In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. We set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity. We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet — tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them.

That’s what middle-class economics is — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success — we want everyone to contribute to our success.

So what does middle-class economics require in our time?

First — middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement — and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.

Here’s one example. During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority — so this country provided universal childcare. In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.

Here’s another example. Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.

Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.

These ideas won’t make everybody rich, or relieve every hardship. That’s not the job of government. To give working families a fair shot, we’ll still need more employers to see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest. We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice. But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage — these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families. That is a fact. And that’s what all of us — Republicans and Democrats alike — were sent here to do.

Second, to make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills.

America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world. But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more.

By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. Two in three. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.

That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.

Forty percent of our college students choose community college. Some are young and starting out. Some are older and looking for a better job. Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt. Understand, you’ve got to earn it — you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time. Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible. I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today. And I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.

Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships — opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.

And as a new generation of veterans comes home, we owe them every opportunity to live the American Dream they helped defend. Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs. Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.

Finally, as we better train our workers, we need the new economy to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our workers to fill.

Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago — jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

So no one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future. But we do know we want them here in America. That’s why the third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy anywhere, the place where businesses want to locate and hire.

21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.

21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.

21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.

I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.

I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs — converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars. In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space. Good luck, Captain — and make sure to Instagram it.

Now, the truth is, when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber. Members of both parties have told me so. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments. As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight. They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do.

This year, we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.

Helping hardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy. Maintaining the conditions for growth and competitiveness. This is where America needs to go. I believe it’s where the American people want to go. It will make our economy stronger a year from now, fifteen years from now, and deep into the century ahead.

Of course, if there’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separate our work at home from challenges beyond our shores.

My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America. In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military — then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. That’s what our enemies want us to do.

I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.

First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.

At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.

Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.

Second, we are demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

That’s how America leads — not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.

In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. And after years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs. Welcome home, Alan.

Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.

Third, we’re looking beyond the issues that have consumed us in the past to shape the coming century.

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.

In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola — saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts. But the job is not yet done — and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate extreme poverty.

In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules — in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief. And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does — 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.

That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement — the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.

There’s one last pillar to our leadership — and that’s the example of our values.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.

As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice — so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. Since I’ve been President, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half. Now it’s time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It’s not who we are.

As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties — and we need to uphold that commitment if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks. So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.

Looking to the future instead of the past. Making sure we match our power with diplomacy, and use force wisely. Building coalitions to meet new challenges and opportunities. Leading — always — with the example of our values. That’s what makes us exceptional. That’s what keeps us strong. And that’s why we must keep striving to hold ourselves to the highest of standards — our own.

You know, just over a decade ago, I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn’t a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America — but a United States of America. I said this because I had seen it in my own life, in a nation that gave someone like me a chance; because I grew up in Hawaii, a melting pot of races and customs; because I made Illinois my home — a state of small towns, rich farmland, and one of the world’s great cities; a microcosm of the country where Democrats and Republicans and Independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith, share certain bedrock values.

Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this vision. How ironic, they say, that our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it.

I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong.

I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long. I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown; in Boston, West, Texas, and West Virginia. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains; from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.

So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who, every day, live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper. And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example.

So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes. I’ve served in Congress with many of you. I know many of you well. There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for — arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.

Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns. Imagine if we did something different.

Understand — a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.

A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.

A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.

A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America.

If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments — but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.

We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.

Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.

We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.

That’s a better politics. That’s how we start rebuilding trust. That’s how we move this country forward. That’s what the American people want. That’s what they deserve.

I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol — to do what I believe is best for America. If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.

Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth — that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.

I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.

I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen — man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.

I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America.

I want them to grow up in a country where a young mom like Rebekah can sit down and write a letter to her President with a story to sum up these past six years:

“It is amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times. Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We’ve laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter — together — and let’s start the work right now.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.

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