10 Things Atiku Said At Lagos Island Club Business Lecture
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, was a guest speaker at the Lagos Island Club's Quarterly Business Lecture held on Wednesday.
He is a member of the club and he addressed a gathering of members of the club, with former President Olusegun Obasanjo seated in their midst.
Addressing the gathering, the former Vice President of Nigeria began with the democracy and here are the 10 things he told the gathering, as extracted from his speech.
1. Democracy Is In Peril
The meeting is coming at a time that President Muhammadu Buhari's decision to suspend Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen and replaced him with Tanko Mohammed is drawing mixed reactions.
Atiku described Buhari's decision as an attack on the Judicial Arm of government and a usurpation of the powers of the Legislature.
"After unsuccessfully abusing the instruments of state to remove the leadership of the legislature, President Muhammadu Buhari has turned his sights on the judiciary.
"The action of unilaterally suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Buhari is unconstitutional. The Constitution provides laid down rules for the suspension or removal of the CJN and this has not been followed.
"This is a grave attack on our constitution and the people of our country.
"As someone who has vigorously defended our constitution over a number of decades you can be rest assured that I will do all in my power to ensure the matter is resolved in accordance with our constitution.
"For a key part of my vision for Nigeria is respect for the rule of law, because without it you can have no society," he said.
2. Power To The Citizens
Sometimes, Nigerians are treated like they do not have a say when it comes to governance and the decision of the people at the top.
And the candidate of the PDP said it was time for citizens to make demands, as a matter of right, from people wanting to govern them.
"It has always been my view that those who aspire to govern Nigeria must begin to unveil their policy priorities and their strategies for dealing with a plethora of local and national issues from the mundane to the most complex.
"Indeed, it is time for citizens to demand as a matter of right, from people aspiring to lead them, a plan on what they want to accomplish and how.
"Political slogans should not take the place of development plans and propaganda is a poor substitute for proper socio-economic and political agenda," he said.
3. Economic Development
Nigeria's economy has continued to crawl even after wriggling out of recession, with the nation's GDP put at $420 billion.
Highlighting the nature of the fragile economy, Mr Abubakar emphasised that economic development does not happen by accident.
"A successful economic reform requires a progressive and forward looking government that has the capacity to develop coherent policies that would solve the problem.
"I have faith in the capacity of Nigeria to make a quantum leap from third world to first that Singapore, under Lee Kuan Yew, or Malaysia under Dr. Mahathir, made.
"We have the human and material resources required to make the leap and in fact, many of our nationals have helped other nations make that transition.
"I also have reasons to worry about the current status and future prospects of our great country as neither our economy or our society is working for our people.
"A decline that has occurred because of absence of coherence and comprehensive policy.
"Africa’s largest economy, with GDP of US$450 billion, remains paradoxically, ‘one of the poorest and most unequal countries’ in the world.
"According to the UN last year Nigeria overtook India, a country with 6 times our population, as the world capital for people living in extreme poverty," he stated.
On how he would address the issues he said his government would support the private sector, since it represents the engine of growth in every economy.
According to him, his government would work with the organised private sector to reduce the cost of borrowing.
"We will build a modern, dynamic and competitive economy that is capable of taking its rightful place among the top 20 economies of the world. Nigeria has the potential to double its GDP by 2025.
"We guarantee access to economic opportunities and basic things of life – health, electricity, transportation, housing.
"We will also guarantee freedom and accountability in all levels of government," he promised.
Recently in Bayelsa, over 20,000 applicants submitted their Curriculum Vitae to the Civil Service Commission, highlighting the height of unemployment in Nigeria.
The latest report of the National Bureau of Statistics says Nigeria's unemployment rate is over 23%,
"We have over 21 million unemployed persons and majority of the unemployed are young men and women.
"Each time I attend a rally, I see over 50,000 faces staring at me and majority of them are not employed," he told the gathering.
On efforts he would make to change the tide, he reminded the gathering that he had been in business for years.
"I have employed thousands of people.
"Experiences have afforded me the opportunity to think about the policies we will enact to create an environment for job creation.
5. Defective Structure
Mr Abubakar further told the gathering that social cohesion was being undermined.
"National security threatened. Nigeria has promoted, tolerated and celebrated a defective political structure.
State and Local Governments are too weak to meet their constitutional responsibilities and the Federal government is taking away those responsibilities and resources which belong to them.
"We must adopt a new political structure.
6. Shift Away From Oil Revenue
Nigeria's dependency on crude oil sales for revenue is choking the economy that shifted away from agriculture and the candidate of the PDP is optimistic that his government would end such reliance.
"The longest span I must give the oil revenue is the next 10 years (talking about the world shifting away from some petroleum production).
"My vision for Nigeria has been encapsulated in the Atiku plan launched 19 November 2018.
"Nigeria does not need a complex vision," he said.
The petroleum sector is the cash-cow of the Nigerian government, with laws governing how things are done needing reforms.
A lot is in the Petroleum Industry Bill that has been unbundled into different segments, but not all of them have received the needed attention.
For Atiku, a review of the PIB is a compulsory thing to do.
He says his government will privatise refineries that have not been able to produce to its capacity for decades now.
"We will channel the resources from the privatisation into development of education and heath," he said.
7. Human Capital Development
Nigeria's education system is in shambles with parents rejecting the government's free education system and opting for private schools with school fees that are cutting big holes in their pockets that are holding their meagre salaries.
The sector needs reform and so many persons have called for a state of emergency in the sector.
For the presidential candidate of the PDP, being a founder of a university in Nigeria, education will get the full attention of his government.
Budgetary allocation has been poor and far below the recommended UNESCO's 26%
"We will prioritise human capital development.
"We ill increase investment in human development especially in the education of our people.
"We will allocate 25% of the budget to the education sector and we will create jobs by growing the economy with programmes that will train one million apprentices every year," he said.
Growth and development in Nigeria's northeast has been retarded as a result of insurgency that has lasted for over nine years and the government of Atiku Abubakar has something to do about the insecurity.
The first thing he would do, according to him, would be to promote policies of inclusiveness, minimise frustration that leads to taking up arms.
"Social cohesion is being undermined.
"We need a united secure environment that will work for all Nigerians.
"Citizens want a better tomorrow and we will create an indivisible, diverse but strong country that protests citizens and protect social live," he stressed.
9. Review Subsidy Payment And Other Expenditure
Nigeria's Recurrent Expenditure has continued to grow in each year's budget, with payment of subsidy swallowing so much of the milk the cash-cow, the petroleum sector, generates.
But Atiku says he will not allow the process to continue.
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He said his government would reduce recurrent expenditure and increasing capital expenditure to accelerate investment to double infrastructure and unleash growth.
"Recurrent expenditure should not exceed 45% of the budget," he stressed.
"We will review payment of subsidy and funds will be channelled to education and health."
10. I Will Give N10 Million In Cash
It appears the former Vice President carries cash about everywhere he goes now.
After his speech which was mostly written in paper, Atiku made a pledge to the Lagos Island Club in support of the car park that the club was building.
"I will give 10 million Naira in support of the project and I will give that money in cash," he told the gathering which busted into cheer, welcoming his donation.
It was a meeting that offered Atiku another opportunity to share his plan with Lagos residents, as he reminded them that the general elections of 2019 were very important.
"An opportunity to rebuild begins on February 16
"Do not fail to be part of that history. Nigerians must reject the status-quo. Nigeria needs a leader with the capacity to articulate and lift Nigeria from abyss and make its people, happier, healthier and wealthier.
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