• Atiku promises restructuring
•Insists APC destroying economy
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, on Wednesday said the 2019 general election would be a referendum on restructuring, adding that only aspirants who believe in restructuring would get the support of the Ijaw nation.
The governor said he would intensify consultations on restructuring, true federalism and devolution of powers with the view to reaching a consensus for a restructured Nigeria.
Dickson spoke when a high-powered delegation led by former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, paid him a courtesy call at Government House in Yenagoa.
The governor said there was no going back on his call for restructuring, and pledged to take his consultations to all parts of the country until Nigeria achieves a true federal structure.
He said the people of the Ijaw from Ondo, Edo, Delta, Rivers to Akwa Ibom States had been fully mobilised and conscientious on the importance of the 2019 general election and what it portends for restructuring.
Dickson also called on well-meaning Nigerians to protect democracy and reject a one-party system because according to him, it breeds dictatorship.
He enjoined members of the PDP to work closely to make the party more cohesive and virile.
Describing Atiku as one of the most consistent political voices for the quest for a new Nigeria, Dickson promised that Bayelsa would remain a PDP state that would fly the party’s flag at all times.
He said: “In furtherance of the sacred mandate of our people, several leaders and personalities, even across the political divide are united on the need to restructure this country and return it to fiscal federalism. Few weeks ago, I had a rare interaction with the president where I clearly conveyed the message for the need for a restructured Nigeria.
“I want to say that in the days and months ahead, I, my brothers and sisters you see here, and our leaders have resolved to carry this message to every nook and cranny of our country. And to let the people know that a restructured Nigeria is in everyone’s interest, and if you want a stable, prosperous, egalitarian and sustainable Nigeria that can survive the next 200, 300 years in peace and in prosperity, then we must re-examine the foundation of our country and make necessary adjustments.
“No nation is perfect, let’s not deceive ourselves that our country is perfect. Every nation is a work in progress. Other countries older than Nigeria have adjusted. Restructuring is a call for adjustments, consultations and consensus building.”
In his remarks, Atiku promised to ensure that the Niger Delta’s yearning for a restructured Nigeria becomes a reality in 2019 when he is voted in as the country’s next president.
The presidential aspirant boasted that he has the courage to readjust the current governance structure in the country, just like he stood up to military dictatorships in the past, insisting the Nigeria cannot run away from the rising calls for restructuring.
He, thereafter, presented a document to Dickson which he said encapsulated his views on the subject, maintaining that he would hit the ground running on the issue of re-tuning Nigeria for efficiency if elected president.
The former vice president, who also met with members of the PDP in the state, was accompanied by a former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniels, who is also the Director General of his campaign organisation; an ex-Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe; Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and a large retinue of aides.
“I have been following with keen interest your (Dickson’s) position on restructuring. If you know, I have been an advocate of restructuring since 2004. Mr. Governor, I would like to invite you to join me as we work together towards 2019 so that we can do it together.
“The governor and I are on the same page as far as the issue of restructuring is concerned. We have been consistent about it. For us to get the unity, progress and development we are looking for, we cannot escape from restructuring,” he said.
In his message titled: ‘Restructuring as a pathway to unity and development in Nigeria’, the former vice president noted that many issues that currently bedevil the country could be solved if Nigeria was truly a federal state as enunciated in the document.
While taking a swipe at the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly destroying Nigeria’s economy, he vowed to confront anti-democratic forces in the country, which are bent on taking the country many steps backward.
“I have been in the vanguard of returning democracy to this country. Some of us lost their lives, some shot among others, but we succeeded. We have stood up to anti-democratic forces, and as you know, I can stand up again to anybody or any force in this country. I know you have the courage and perseverance that I have to change the change.
“Before 2015, you knew how the economy was. Today, you know how it is. We have the largest unemployment rate in the history of this country since the APC took over office.
“Because they were never there before, they didn’t know how to create jobs, they didn’t know how to govern, and they didn’t even understand the economy,” he said.
Orubebe, who also spoke, noted that among the presidential aspirants within the party, the former vice president remains the only one qualified to rescue the country.
“I have looked through all the aspirants for who can manage it, it is only Atiku that I see. Atiku is an enigma. What we need now in PDP is a man with the capacity and vision. What they stopped the region from getting during President Goodluck Jonathan reign, Atiku will provide more,” he said.