ABUJA — Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday unveiled his manifesto, tagged ‘Let’s Get Nigeria Working Again,’ framed along with his romanticised life journey from a firewood seller to a multi-billionaire.
The 186-page policy document which was unveiled in a nine-minute social media broadcast captures, among others, his plan to create 2.5 million jobs per annum towards bringing the unemployment rate in the country to a single digit by 2024.
Former vice-President Atiku Abubakar speaks during the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on October 6, 2018.
Nigeria’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has picked Abubakar to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking a second term in presidential polls scheduled for February 2019. / AFP PHOTO /
Attired in a black suit and a white shirt, with a matching wine-coloured tie, the former vice-president, who spoke from the sitting room of his Asokoro, Abuja, residence reiterated his commitment to restructure the Nigerian state, attract investments and provide world-class education to teeming Nigerian youths across the land.
He also promised a policy of inclusiveness with an affirmation that “Atiku Abubakar is 100% for 100% of Nigerians, 100% of the time.”
Introducing his policies, the PDP presidential candidate cited his experience working in the Olusegun Obasanjo cabinet where he said the government was able to achieve infrastructure and development milestones, including telephone revolution and cancellation of the country’s foreign debts.
Encouraged by the outflow of support across social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the PDP in a statement, following the midday social media broadcast, said that Atiku’s energetic presentation was unlike President Muhammadu Buhari “who is adjudged by Nigerians to be aloof, detached and unconcerned.”
The policy document, themed “Let’s Get Nigeria Working Again” was showcased in three different presentations of a ten-page executive summary, a 68-page summary and a more detailed 186-page publication which gives more detailed answers to policy issues encapsulated.
APC failed to deliver, says Atiku
Berating the government of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for allegedly failing to deliver on promises made to the electorate a few years ago, the PDP flag bearer said upon election, he would change the governance paradigm and bring about a change in the political leadership of the nation.
He said: “The sad fact today, as you know, is that too many of our people are not working and are living in poverty and insecurity. The very fabric of our society is breaking down. We have never been so divided as a nation.
“The most important question in this election is:”Are you better off than you were four years ago? Are you richer or poorer?” That is why our primary focus is to get Nigeria working again.
“However, I am not here to tell you how I will get Nigeria working again. Instead, I would like to tell you how we will get Nigeria working again together. I am strongly of the view that I am just one Nigerian and one Nigerian cannot be as wise as all Nigerians.
“That is why I will offer an inclusive leadership. Atiku Abubakar is 100% for 100% of Nigerians, 100% of the time. Too often, Nigerians have been promised better governance by those seeking their votes.
“Such individuals have preyed on the legitimate desires of our people for their conditions to be improved, that they make all sorts of promises.
“But it is one thing to promise and another thing to deliver. I am not one for making grandiose promises. Rather than promises, I believe in policies. A promise is an indication to do a future action. A policy is a plan to achieve future goals.
“I believe in setting goals and coming up with realistic plans and policies to achieving those goals. To me, leadership is having the discipline to commit to one’s goals until they are a reality.
“I have succeeded in running my private enterprises which now employ 50,000 Nigerians because I believe in policies and I have the discipline to stay with them until they become a reality.
Why I’m running for President, by Atiku
“It is my desire to run for the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not because I have a bag full of promises, but because I am prepared to lead.
“Over the last 18 months, I have worked with the best experts Nigeria has to offer to come up with policies and plans that, when implemented, will get Nigeria going in the right direction again.
“I am not talking about what I can do. I am talking of what I have done before when I was Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, I chaired the National Economic Council that gave Nigeria her highest and most consistent GDP growth of over 6% per annum.
“Despite the fact that crude oil prices at that time were much lower than they are today, under the dynamic leadership of President Obasanjo, we paid off Nigeria’s entire foreign debt.
“We also introduced the GSM revolution that saw Nigeria go from 400,000 phone lines to over 100 million today.
“We were able to achieve these, and much more because we had a plan called the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy.
“That plan worked, and today I have the pleasure of unveiling our policies and strategies, not promises, to take Nigeria from where she is right now, to where she needs to be.
“This is my plan to get Nigeria working again. A plan that will give Nigerian workers a living wage. A plan that will give Nigeria’s youth a world-class education; a plan that will empower Nigerian women, reduce maternal mortality and increase their financial stability.
“A plan that will cater for the elderly, so our people are not afraid of growing old; a plan that will invest in our failing infrastructure
“But above all, this is a plan that will help create jobs because in my many travels across our great nation, the one thing I constantly hear, is that our people need jobs.
“Without jobs, our people cannot afford to feed their families, and our children live in poverty. Without jobs, there is crime, drug use, and insecurity. Without jobs, where is the hope for a better life and a better future?
“Today, we will begin the process of sharing our policies that form my plan to create jobs, restructure the polity, and get Nigeria working again.
Giving some perspectives of his plan, he said: “If elected president, I will be pro-active in attracting investments and supporting the 50 million small and medium-scale enterprises across Nigeria for the purpose of doubling the size of our GDP to $900 billion by 2025.
“These investments will create a minimum of 2. 5 million jobs annually and lift at least 50 million people from poverty in the first two years.
“My team and I will also help create jobs by innovating flagship programmes such as the National Open Apprenticeship Programme through which we shall enhance the capacity of master-craftsmen and women to train one-million new apprentices every year.
“Our national innovation fund and SME venture capital fund initiatives will provide stable and sustainable long-term support to aspiring entrepreneurs.
“My plan to restructure Nigeria will lead to a vast increase in the internally generated revenue, both for the federal government and the states via the matching grants that we will provide to state governments that increase their own revenue.
“Let me be clear, no state will receive less funding than they get today. In fact, all will receive more, and the harder a state works, the more they will get. These are not just Atiku Abubakar’s plans; these will be our plans. Yours and mine.
“I started out as an orphan selling firewood on the streets of Jada in Adamawa, but God, through the Nigerian state, invested in me and here I am today. If Nigeria worked for me, I owe it a duty to make sure Nigeria also works for you, your family and your friends.
“It is time to get Nigeria working again, and these are the plans and policies I have for achieving that.”
Buhari’s Next Level dead on arrival — PDP
Responding to the broadcast, the PDP yesterday said the resounding public endorsements that heralded the policy document embodied the collective mindset, yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians in their quest for a new leadership and a better life.
While lauding Atiku’s manual for its inclusiveness, it lampooned President Buhari’s “Next Level,” describing same as dead on arrival.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondinyan, said in a statement: “The Atiku Abubakar policy document is a product of very wide, painstaking and productive consultations with Nigerians from all walks of live, critical stakeholders and development partners in key sectors, in the overall determination to chart a new course for our nation.
“The policy document foretells a new dawn as it articulates practical solutions and answers to the myriad of economic, social and political challenges facing our nation and sets out all-inclusive templates for national rejuvenation, cohesion, protection of human rights and democratic tenets, wealth creation, transparency and elimination of corruption in governance.
“The negative reactions of Nigerians to the Next Level mantra have shown that the document is dead on arrival as Nigeria cannot afford the reinforcement of failure, especially as the electorate have already seen through the deception and cheap attempt to beguile them again ahead of the elections.’’
The party further said the blueprint places utmost priority on the people by focusing chiefly on their yearnings for job creation, infrastructural development, poverty eradication, human capital development, inclusiveness, and national unity.
The statement continued: “Nigerians are particularly happy with the Atiku Abubakar policy document as it seeks to implement pro-poor policies that grant all citizens, irrespective of financial and social status, unhindered opportunity to participate in economic activities to achieve self-reliance and become active contributors to national development.
“Unlike President Buhari, who is adjudged by Nigerians to be aloof, detached and unconcerned, Atiku Abubakar has always maintained a strong bond with the people; hence his ability to understand their challenges, collective aspirations and to proffer solutions with underlining political will.”
Atiku-Agbaje Campaign group faults Atiku’s intention on NNPC
Meanwhile, the Atiku-Agbaje Media Engagement Network, AAMEN, has urged Atiku Abubakar to rescind his proposed policy on the sale of NNPC if elected.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Atiku, on Sunday, said he would sell 90 per cent of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and retain just 10 per cent of the company for the Federal Government if elected.
The former vice-president, in his policy document put together with a major delivery timeline of 2019 to 2025, also plans to sell all four national refineries.
Mr. Felix Oboagwina, Executive Director of the campaign support group, made the call in a statement issued to NAN in Lagos on Monday.
According to Oboagwina, the groundswell of opinions so far collated by the group on this matter wants Alhaji Atiku to think outside the box for solutions to the obvious ineptitude and corruption bedeviling the corporation.
“The late President Umar Yar’Adua had won accolades for reversing the privatisation of the nation’s four refineries; this demonstrates that Nigerians wanted government’s vigorous involvement in the running of the corporation.
“We urge Atiku to direct his mind towards probing NNPC, recovering looted funds and positioning the corporation for accountability, integrity, professionalism, and profitability if elected,” he said.
Oboagwina also urged Atiku to rather commit to perfecting, signing and implementing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) within six months of coming into power.
“AAMEN would want Atiku to re-open scandalous NNPC cases like the $25 billion scam alarm raised by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
“It is not always that a drastic solution should be visited on a drastic problem and for anyone to say that selling off the country’s shares in NNPC would be the only solution to the rot in the system simply means that corruption would have won,” he said.
Buhari won’t promise what can’t be achieved, says Keyamo
Festus Keyamo, spokesman of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, says anyone who promises to restructure the country between six to 12 months is telling “the biggest lie”.
Referring to Abubakar’s claim, Keyamo said Buhari will not engage in deceit by promising what cannot be achieved.
He said the time span given by Abubakar cannot work with the constitutional provisions for amendments that will allow restructuring.
“In the campaign manual, the president has not said that he will object to a constitutional amendment. He has not engaged in a deceitful nature to say I want to restructure when he knows he cannot in six months,” Keyamo said.
“Anybody that tells you that restructuring is something that should be done outside the amendment of the constitution is a lie. Restructuring is about devolution of powers, fiscal federalism. You cannot do that without amending the constitution.
“We call it the restructuring farce by the opposition. It is a farce because there is a clear procedure in the constitution for amending the constitution.”