SATURDAY COUNERPOINT STORY
By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; mobile phone: (08182223348 – SMS Only)
Dateline: December of 2017, in a civil and painstaking reaction to a truculent letter supposedly written by a popular Nigerian comedian, Francis Agoda (aka “I Go Die”) Atiku declared unambiguously his sundry achievements while in office between 1999 and 2007.
Hear him: “My legacy as Vice President, I would say is the banking consolidation process, for which I gave political backing for. Many big people were putting a lot of political pressure to not change the status quo, but we knew that if that consolidation was not done, Nigeria could not grow. Because of that banking consolidation, Nigerian banks don’t fail anymore the way they used to.
“I oversaw the telecoms revolution, which is why young people like you, I Go Dye , now have a flourishing career. Under our tenure, we witnessed a large repatriation of Nigerians back to Nigeria, driven by the hope of the recovering economy. It is sad that many of those young people are heading back abroad now – this is to show you that leadership matters.
“In my home state of Adamawa for example, I’ve created over 50,000 direct jobs and 250,000 indirect ones. We are the largest private employers of labour in the state, only second to the state government. It’s not a lot, but it does help reduce unemployment.
“As VP, I assembled what is arguably the best Economic Team ever in Nigeria. It was made up of young, world class professionals, who came home to work. Some of those professionals are now political leaders, governors and world leaders in their own right.
“I have a proven record of bringing young, unknown professionals into service. Many of the professionals and ministers I brought in were in their 30s and early 40s. Some of those young leaders have become governors in their states. I went to the World Bank and met a bright lady, convinced her to come back home, and she became a star in our government. To show you we had effective leadership, the same lady could not replicate her exploits under a different government.” (Me: that must be Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala).
There are other testimonials of the 72-year-old politico’s accomplishments while in office… though a little lean on post-2007 material witnesses …. Amongst the positives fronted by his supporters include these: that Atiku led the National Council on Privatisation which supervised the sales of public enterprises which were considered as drains on the public treasury; and he successfully led the opposition to the rascally constitution amendment attempt to trigger a third term for the OBJ presidency. Of course, there are others who will use same accolades as metaphors for spoon-feeding greed, avarice and niggling over-ambition.
However, just as we did last week on the matter of his major opponent, President Muhammadu Buhari, the best window into the personality and purpose of Atiku’s candidature are the many promises he has thrown at us, to convince us that he is serious. Here is a shortlist of “The Atiku Plan”:
“Working towards achieving the lowest corporate income tax rate in Africa, in order to make Nigeria one of the most attractive destinations for foreign direct investment;
“Achieve a sustained increase in manufacturing output. By 2025, the manufacturing sector’s output shall be expanded from 9% to 30% of GDP.
“By 2025, Nigeria shall produce a minimum of 5 million per (sic) barrels per day… Increase the contribution of the downstream sector to GDP from 0.5% to at least 2% by 2025 by increasing the quantity of petroleum being refined, consumed and exported.
“To improve domestic supply of refined petroleum products government will incentivise those investors that are willing to cite (sic) modular refineries in the North to source crude from neighbouring Niger and Chad via pipeline to be constructed under Public Private Partnership.
“As we double our refining capacity to 2 million barrels of crude daily, we shall aspire to export 50% of that capacity to ECOWAS member states.
“Substantially increase the manufactured export funding window (the Export Stimulation Fund) currently, N700 billion to N1.5 trillion to enhance access to credit by manufacturers of finished, non-oil products.
“The privatisation of State-Owned Enterprises including all three government-owned refineries and the concession of Nigeria’s sea and airports to reputable, strategic, and technically sound buyers…
“The liberalisation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to, among others, allow market-determined prices for Petrol Motor Spirit (PMS) and eliminate subsides (sic) for its consumption.
“Set up a Special Purpose Fund for the utilisation of all monies saved from subsidy removal in building infrastructure in education, health and the empowerment of women and youth…
“Accelerating the privatisation and decentralisation of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
“Concessioning segments of the national grid to the private sector… “Creation of up to 3 million self-and wage-paying employment opportunities in the private sector annually, across all the economic sectors…
“Lift at least 50 million people out of extreme poverty by 2025. “An estimated 1m youth shall benefit annually from our apprenticeship scheme in the informal sector…
“Construction of up to 5,000 Km of modern railway lines…
“Undertake immediate operational improvements to significantly decongest Lagos ports…
“Intensify rural electrification projects to ensure electricity access to over 80 million Nigerians currently without access to grid electricity ….
“Prioritise investment in nameplate capacity and ensure that Nigeria starts to refine 50% of its current crude oil output of 2 million bpd by 2025
“To increase the nation’s refining capacity, we shall privatise all four-outstanding government-owned refineries to competent off-takers with mandates to produce agreed levels of refined output…
“Relocate the Niger Delta Ministry from Abuja to the region to enable it become closer to the stakeholders and beneficiaries of the initiatives…
“Local Governments shall remain as independent tier of government. Grassroots development requires the recognition of the Local Governments as independent structures of government not as appendages to the office of the State Government…
“Once power over minerals and mines is devolved to the concurrent list, states where deposits of mines and mineral resources are found will have control over those resources and only pay royalties to the center….”
Well, there you are: who will be your man of the election year 2019? With these random promises and prognoses, are you persuaded that Mr. Abubakar is ready for the business of equitable nation building? Or you are terrified by the prospect of a locust-like visitation? Are you perplexed by the distressing options of the deep-sea/bleak-mountain scenario foisted on us as a two-pronged presidential contest?
Whatever your state of mind, the elections shall come and go, and Nigeria will be run by one of these men for the next four years, to the chagrin of neutrals… so, do your posterity a complete make-over by choosing one or the other based on your understanding of the perceived capacity, competence, character and commitment of either candidate to bring home the dividends of their mile-long aspirations and vision.
Not sentiments of bigotry, clannishness, hatred, tribalism, unscrupulous partisanship, prebendalism, and such odious excuses for purposeless voting on February 16, 2019.