The former Head of State and a leading figure behind the All Progressives Congress (APC), retired General Muhammadu Buhari, has distanced himself from the proposed national conference, which he described as a ploy to hoodwink Nigerians.
Buhari's view came just as his allies in APC, former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu and former National Chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party ( ANPP), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, took swipes at the federal government for the continued closure of the nation's tertiary institutions.
While delivering a keynote address at the dinner organised by APC in Abuja Wednesday night, Buhari said he doubted the sincerity of the federal Government over the proposed national dialogue.
"There is nothing basically wrong with people sitting down and talking about our problems. The snag is whether the conference are being conceived in good faith or not. We in APC think it is not. We suspect it is an attempt to muddle the waters," he said.
The former presidentisl candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) described the conference as a mere joker by President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to distract attention to the failings of their clueless governance.
He accused the PDP-led federal government of superintending over a clueless government in the last 14 years, thus giving rise to uncertainties and doubts about the capacity of Nigeria to plays its role in world affairs.
For instance, Buhari said there had been series of probes in form of public hearings conducted by the National Assembly on alleged malpractices in various sectors but whose outcome have been swept under the carpet.
"The snag is whether the conference is being conceived in good faith or not. We in APC think it is not. We suspect it is an attempt to muddle the waters, (to distort the issues mark the features ) of a clueless government, simply acting on a problem that has arisen from its bad governance.
"People should reflect on the various hearings of the National Assembly during the last 12 months. Public hearing on the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), hearings on Pension Fund, hearing on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). No tangible action has been taken on the outcome of these probes. The government just hopes that this problems will go away. They will not and the country will continue to demand answers and solutions.
"The people of Nigeria wants and deserve basic things of life, security to protect them from violence and intimidation from whichever quarters, they want food to eat, decent shelter, schools for their children, clinics to attend to them. They want an environment where they will be employed and go about their daily duties without hindrance. None of these exist in the required measure in Nigeria today," he said.
On his part, Tinubu expressed concern over the non-resolution of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike by university teachers.
He urged students to take to the streets if the matter was not resolved by Friday.
"It is time Nigeria moves away from the spirit of lamentations to the spirit of vibration, it is time we do not allow all these inadequacies to continue, insincerity, lack of honesty and accountability in office.
"I am sorry if if ASUU do not resume tomorrow, I will ask students to be out on the streets, if our vehicles have no way to pass and if they can move to the Presidential Villa, Abuja it is their future, they should challenge. You cannot make omelet without breaking the egg. Freedom is free but it is not served free. " he said.
Onu, who chaired the special dinner lamented the problems of the country, especially continued closure of the nation's higher institutions of learning due to the lingering strike by the ASUU.
He expressed sadness that insecurity and massive unemployment have taken over the country and that our people are almost sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines.
"Our schools are no longer what they used to be, a s most of the university students only know when they matriculate , but can no longer accurately predict when to graduate, " he said.
Earlier while welcoming guests at the dinner, Lagos state Governor, Mr. Raji Fashola restated his believe in true federalism, insisting that despite all threats to her survival, Nigeria will remain one united entity.
"I stand here to proclaim that the agenda facing Nigeria is not adequately captured by the faces like ethnic cleansing or terrorism but rather by our inability to improve on our founding father's effort to build more perfect union. By this I mean that we should be ferreting something that has already begun, namely our federal republic.
"Those who speak about the break-up of the republic, speak without due knowledge of the historical precedence and repercussions of such an act. Indeed it is easier said than done. The APC family believes that this federal house will stand if we accept that real and present danger is our neglect to improve on what we already had by insisting on a federation governed by rule of law physically and politically, he said.
One of the high points of the dinner was the presence of some members of the New PDP amongst whom were the Publicity Secretary Chukwuemeka Ezeh, Youth Leader, Timi Frank, and the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government who represented his governor, retired Admiral Murtala Nyako.
Other party leaders who were at the PGF Dinner, include Governors of Lagos, Edo- Adams Oshiomohle, Borno- Kashim Shettima, Zamfara- Abdulaziz Abubakar, Yobe- Ibrahim Gidan, Oyo- Abiola Ajimobi, Ekiti- Kayode Fayemi, Nasarawa-Tanko Al' Makura, Ogun-Ibikunle Amosun Imo- Rochas Okorocha,Osun – Rauf Aregbesola, Nuhu Ribadu, Imo Deputy. gov, Eze Madumere, House of Representative Minority Leader, Femi Agbalajami, former Zamfara GovernornSani Yerima.
Others include, Tom Ikimi, Onu , Chris Ngige, Chief Bisi Akande, APC Senators, members of the House of Representatives.
APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande said the party's interim executive is targeting to register at least 15 million members nationwide as soon it commences the membership registration exercise.
He said the party recorded a resounding success in its registration exercise in Anambra from the projected 300 per a ward to more than 5,000 per polling unit.
The party's governorship candidate for the November 16 gubernatorial election, Dr. Chris Ngige who received assurances of support of the APC governors at the dinner, said he will work hard to put smiles on the faces of party members by clinching victory in the context.
Oshiomohle said the challenge facing APC in the Anambra election is for the party to able to connect with a message to the people can understand and believe.
He said one of unique offers of APC is credible leadership that will stand for justice, fair play and which will not oppress the people.
"To get the message to the ordinary people of Anambra that it has a candidate that is tested in prudent management of the state resources.There is no power in the planet that can withstand the resolve of the people. In an Anambra state, the vote of the people must not only count but be made to count, " he said.