By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A former vice-president and a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has lamented that the conspiracy theory of the political elite have been thwarting his presidential ambition.
Atiku, who is aspiring for the third time and one of the 13 presidential aspirants of the PDP, disclosed this Sunday night during the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Nomination media chat organised by United Nigeria Group (UNG) in Abuja.
Asked what is wrong with Nigeria that stops someone like him from getting elected, he stated: “It is what I called the conspiracy theory of the political elite. If you are not going to be used, if you are not going to satisfy their personal aspirations. Part of the problem they have with me is that they say I’m independent, principled and so on.
“Honestly, it is the conspiracy of the political elite and unfortunately, the Nigeria public is not politically sophisticated to override the conspiracy of these political elite. They rely on the political elite to direct them.”
Atiku said that he wants to become the president of Nigeria because presently the country is in need of a leadership that has the experience, the capacity and has the know-how to rescue the country from the socio-economic quagmire.
He stressed that the most challenging issue facing the country today was the issue of unemployment, creation of jobs and unity, adding that he believed he’s more suitable to handle all these issues.
Atiku said: “As a civil servant, I have worked 20 years in the federal bureaucracy. As a politician, I served successfully for eight years as the vice-president and in that position, I chaired the economic team of that administration and I brought so many innovations to our administration that led to the creation of jobs, creation of wealth and prosperity and relative peace and stability.”
The former vice-president lamented he has not seen Nigeria in such a bad shape since the civil war.
“Our unemployment rate is the highest, over 12 million men and women are unemployed. Our growth is at its lowest, when this administration took over, we were growing at GDP of 6% to 7%, they took it over and crashed it and drag the nation into recession.
“We are trying to come out of recession at about 1.6 % growth, considering the growth of our population. So, any country that its economic growth is below its population growth is in a danger, that is the danger that is facing our country today.
“So, anybody who can come and lift up our economy to a level where our GDP growth will surpass our population growth, I think it is the leader we should at this point in time support and give the opportunity to take our country out of this crisis, and that is what I stand for,” he said.
Atiku stressed the need to embark on economic reform policies, which include opening up the country to foreign investors in order to set the country on a path of greatness.
He noted: “When we came in in 1999, a barrel of crude oil was less than $10 in the market, we met less than $5 billion in our foreign reserve. With all that, we are still able to manage the economy of the country to the extent that we paid all our foreign debt and became debt free.
“In terms of managing our economy, we must embark on economic reform policies. Part of it is opening up the country to foreign investors. It is extremely important to open up the country to foreign investors, management of the micro economic policies is also very important. We were able to turn around the economy then, so I don’t think it is an impossible task to do now. If given the opportunity, I believe it is doable.”