The newly-registered Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) yesterday took a swipe at the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, saying that Nigeria's international influence and rating have waned under it.
But the PDM said President Jonathan's meeting today with his United States counterpart in New York is an opportunity the Nigerian president needed to fully utilise to assure the international community that he (Jonathan) is ready to take the country back to its enviable past.
In a letter to President Jonathan as he meets Obama today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and signed by its national chairman, Alhaji Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, the PDM charged Jonathan to take assuring steps aimed at re-kindling the hope of Nigerians. Such steps, according to Ibrahim, include the fight against corruption, insecurity, crude oil theft as well as free and fair elections.
He described such as challenges the Jonathan administration must tackle to return Nigeria to the vision of the founding fathers.
While pummeling the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its inability to tackle insecurity and poverty, the PDM assured that Nigerians will take advantage of the availability of alternative platforms to decide their fate. The PDM letter said: "I write to you on behalf of my party, Peoples Democratic Movement, and on behalf of the multitude of Nigerians who do not have a voice in how your government frames the foreign policy agenda of our country. Since you took over the mantle of leadership in 2010, the reputation and influence of Nigeria in world affairs has suffered an embarrassing setback. We feel it is time you stood up to be counted as the leader of a great country and step forward to offer our continent statesmanlike leadership.
"You have a rare opportunity to do this when you meet on Monday, September 23, 2013, with President Barack Obama of the United States of America in New York. It is a meeting you have earned on the back of your July visit to Beijing, which has served as a befitting diplomatic response to the decision of President Obama to avoid Nigeria during his three-nation tour of Africa in June.
"With the meeting taking place on the side of the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, not in the White House in Washington, your diplomatic gamble has somewhat paid off. As our President you have, nonetheless, sent the signal to Washington that Nigeria could not be ignored.
"Nigeria under you, Mr President, has issues with the US and, I believe, you are fully aware of this. It is, therefore, not enough for you to court and earn a meeting with the President of the United States. You must seize the rare opportunity provided by the New York meeting to address those critical issues which continue to dog the medium- and long-term future of Nigeria's bilateral relations with the United States.
"Corruption has plagued our institutions and has embedded itself in our governance and society as the routine, standard modus operandi for transactions amongst public and private entities alike. Despite marginal improvement, Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index still ranked Nigeria as the 35th most corrupt nation in the world in 2012. The government, the police, and the judiciary are perceived as the most corrupt institutions in Nigeria today.
"The United States and other international allies have actively collaborated with and offered assistance to Nigeria in its fight against corruption, especially between 2002 and 2009. However, its enthusiasm and that of our international allies began to wane when business-as-usual began to creep back, culminating in your grant of pardon to the convicted former Governor of Bayelsa State. That action has robbed you of the moral capital you need to fight corruption in your government and in the rest of the nation at large.
"For if corruption continues to grow at the current rate, there will be no hope of confronting and conquering insecurity, unemployment, piracy and the host of other afflictions that obstruct the nation's growth, prosperity and progress."
Ibrahim continued: "Last week, about 150 innocent Nigerians were massacred in the small town of Beni Shek in Yobe State where a State of Emergency you declared is still in force. Similarly, Ombatse, a traditional religious cult in Nasarawa State, which has been implicated in the massacre of over 100 on-duty security personnel in May, has again allegedly ransacked and burnt down a whole community while killing scores of innocent citizens who looked up to the Government for protection.
"Furthermore the uncertainty surrounding last week's shootings in Abuja points towards a crisis of confidence and trust. In a time of deep-rooted and widespread insecurity it becomes far too easy for corrupted officials and leaders to conduct operations of self-interest under the auspices of security and counter-insurgency.
On free and fair election as well as the permutations toward 2015, the PDM said: "There are ominous signs, Mr President, that desperation to stay in power by agents of your party is already pushing our country to the edge of the precipice. Statements such as '2015 is already in the pocket of PDP' is not helping matters in the face of growing discontent with and desire to change the face of politics and governance in Nigeria as we know them since 1999. See text on page 36