The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said that the future of Nigeria should not be handed over to a greenhorn or leaders of a political party that brought the country to this sorry state.
Atiku, who was at the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, Presidential Dialogue on the Economy, at the Summit House, Lagos insisted that many of Nigeria’s current challenges are connected to poor economic performance of the present government.
He said: “It is critical, therefore, that we get the economy right. I have been a private business man for a long time and have also been a public servant at the highest level of decision-making and implementation. Thus, I feel comfortable among captains of industry and public sector economists and practitioners.
And I am uniquely positioned to understand the economic challenges facing the country and what we must do to get our economy growing, provide jobs, incomes and wealth for our people and thereby reduce hunger, unemployment and related social problems, including insecurity.
“When we create economic opportunities for our people it will have a significant positive impact on social cohesion and national security. Increased jobs and income opportunities will reduce the likelihood of our youth being involved in crime, violence and conflict motivated by the manipulation of religious or ethnic differences.”
He said Nigeria is in transition, and hoped that the All Progressives Congress, APC, would leave the stage and the PDP would take over in May with the support and goodwill, of Nigerians, cautioning: “You have a responsibility to take stock of the assets (if there are any) and liabilities (which will be massive) of the APC administration.
“You also have a solemn responsibility to interrogate those who aspire to govern this country. You must assess their understanding of the environment, their policy priorities, and their strategies for dealing with a plethora of local and national issues.
Avoid past mistakes
“Experience is important and we must avoid the mistakes of the recent past. It is too risky for Nigerians to hand over their future to a greenhorn or to the National Leader of the very party that brought us to this sorry pass.”
On tackling the scourge of insecurity, he said “We will take tough and difficult decisions on security matters without fear or favour. We shall put more boots on the ground and ensure that the security forces are well-equipped, well-trained and well-paid. Those who confront deadly criminals everyday must have the resources needed to do their job and be well-rewarded for doing so. In the medium to long term, I shall work with National Assembly and state governments towards allowing state police for the states that so desire.”
He continued: “My government will tackle the deficit in infrastructure financing head-on. We will establish an ‘Infrastructure Development Unit’ in the Presidency, with a coordinating function and a specific mandate of working with the MDAs to fast track and drive the process of infrastructure development in the country.
“As a short-term measure to ensure enhanced power supply I shall, within the first year of the new administration, initiate and implement an emergency power programme (EPPs) that can deliver additional capacity in certain key areas.
Over the medium term, I will propose legislation for the removal of the entire electricity value chain from the exclusive list and give states the power to generate, transmit and distribute electricity for themselves.
It is counter-productive and injurious to let an industrial dispute with the Federal Government in Abuja to affect an industry in Lagos or a factory in Aba or Kano or even an average Nigerian who simply desires to get home, watch the news and sleep under a ceiling fan”.
Atiku, who plans to support MSMEs with $10 billion, said: “We shall incentivize private investor to invest in the entire electricity value chain while the Federal Government focuses on policy, regulation, and standardization. A tariff structure for operators, which reflects costs, will be one of such incentives.
“We will stimulate growth to create jobs and wage war against hunger. The economy must grow for economic opportunities to abound.
“Poverty reduction shall be the centrepiece of our economic development agenda and economic performance shall henceforth be measured by the number of jobs created and the number of people lifted out of poverty rather than by the amount of money spent.
“Early in our administration, we will create an Economic Stimulus Fund with an initial investment capacity of approximately $10 billion to prioritize support to MSMEs across all the economic sectors.”
He thanked NESG for inviting him to speak about his plans to revive and grow our economy if Nigerians, in the coming elections, choose him to lead the country.