Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who has officially declared his intention to contest the presidency in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in this exclusive interview with Olawale Olaleye and Bayo Akinloye lays out his plan to reposition the country to realise its full potential.
Atiku speaks on a wide variety of issues, including youth unemployment, the troubled education system, insecurity, and restructuring.
Furthermore, for the first time, he committed himself to doing just one term of four years.
My agenda is centred on jobs.
That is what I have been doing for the past 40 years. I am first and foremost an entrepreneur. A job creator. My group of companies has a workforce of about 50,000.
This does not include the hundreds of thousands that are indirectly employed. I believe in creating jobs, providing opportunities, being united as one Nigeria, and securing it all with a military-industrial complex whose raison d’être is ‘Nigeria First.’
It is a fact of life that you cannot give what you do not have. In December of 2017, the government-owned and operated National Bureau of Statistics officially revealed that 7.9 million Nigerians had lost their jobs in the 21 months immediately preceding the Buhari government.
The current government cannot create jobs because it is headed and peopled by men and women who have never run successful businesses.
They ran their own private businesses down.
What I am assuring Nigerians is that if they elect me, I promise them that everyone who wants to work will be given opportunities.
Even this thing they are doing, called N-Power, is a product of their poverty mindset. Nigerians do not need handout. Nigerians need a leg up! Our people are not lazy.
Quote me anywhere; Nigerians are the most intelligent people on God’s planet. The reason our people are living in poverty today is that our current leaders have a poverty mentality.
I will give you a very good example. How can I be president and criminals will attack my people and I will tell them that the only thing I can do is pray?
Then, in that case, I should be a clergyman, not a president! How can a leader open his mouth and tell his citizens that it is better to give land than to die?
That is as good as telling the people that they have been conquered.
If we restructured and had community policing, the man would not be in such dire straits.
The Imam of Nghar village, in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State saved 300 Christians by hiding them in his mosque during the recent crisis. By that singular act, Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar saved 300 lives.
That was a community solution to a community challenge. Now put your thinking cap on.
Imagine how much safer that community would be if they practised community policing, which relied on community leaders like Imam Abdullahi Abubakar?
Even in revenue generation, I came up with the idea of matching grants when I gave a speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, on April 25, 2018.
Matching grants would motivate our states to be less dependent on federal allocation and more dependent on internally generated revenue.
Today, both the Federal Government and the states are broke. They depend on loans to even pay salaries and in the midst of that, someone is saying that we do not need restructuring. Reality departed from such a fellow a while ago!
Having said that, let me remind Nigerians that Buhari also gave such an undertaking in 2011, but he is not living up to it today.
My own case will be different. I am prepared to sign an undertaking to do only one term.
Are you not just saying this to get the ticket and, ultimately, get elected after which you would feel no obligation to honour your words? But how do you make us believe you, since Buhari, as you have said, failed to honour his own 2011 pledge?
I am not Muhammadu Buhari. I do not make promises I cannot keep. I am assuring Nigerians that I will keep this promise.
I am making it out here in the open. I am willing to sign a written document. If you or any other Nigerian can come up with an iron-clad legal document that binds me, I am willing to publicly commit to it.