- Says they may lynch the elite
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday raised the alarm that the elite may be mobbed by unemployed youths in the country if jobs are not created, stressing that job creation plays an integral role in economic growth.
The PDP presidential candidate raised the alarm in Lagos at a business summit with stakeholders in the business sector to discuss the state of the economy in line with his policy document on how to get Nigeria working again.
While pointing out that the harsh economic realities are responsible for the current wave of unemployment in the country, Atiku in company with his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi, said it was very heart-breaking to see unemployed youths begging for alms.
“We must create jobs, if not; we will get mobbed one day by the unemployed youths. They are like a time bomb. When businesses are folding up, shops are closing, industries are falling, foreign direct investments are not attracted; poverty is embarrassingly becoming our trademark, the rating of our hard working businessmen by international rating agencies is becoming decimal; when we have a government that has remained insensitive to all these, I feel it is the time not only to offer myself for service to salvage the situation but also to reiterate my aim to create a strong, resilient and prosperous economy that creates jobs and opportunities for all of us,” Atiku explained.
He also reiterated his plan to privatise the petroleum and electricity sectors while clearly stating that he has no plans to assume the role of Minister of Petroleum Resources if elected.
He promised that women would constitute 30 per cent of his cabinet, while 40 per cent would be allocated to the youths, adding that education would be given a priority attention.
On tackling corruption, Atiku said applying technology would be the right approach.
“We are more educated than the UAE and one of the ways they have been to ensure that there is minimal corruption is to introduce technology-driven governance. They tried to eliminate personal contact between members of the faculty with government officials. We can finally eliminate corruption because it is being played virtually in the public sector. Don’t think we cannot do it, we can do it. I am just too impatient to see in my lifetime when poverty becomes redundant,” he added.
NNPC a ‘Mafia’ Organisation
Atiku described the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as a “mafia organisation,” and vowed to privatise it if elected.
He said he would take the step even if doing so would cost him his life.
The presidential candidate explained that he sold the idea to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo but that the former president did not approve of it.
Atiku said he was convinced that NNPC would run better if not managed by the government.
He said, “Let me go back to my experience. When we got into office, I walked up to my boss and said ‘Sir, there are two mafia organisations in government: one is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) while the other one is the National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA).’
“I said unless we dismantle these mafia organisations, we cannot make progress. Let’s privatise them… the long and short of this is that I am committed to privatisation as I have said. I swear even if they are going to kill me, I will do it (privatise NNPC).”
Atiku also spoke on how an expert in the petroleum sector influenced his stance on privatisation of NNPC.
He narrates his experience, “I asked a Nigerian professor based in America; I said, ‘Prof, do you have ministry of petroleum in America?’ He said no.’
“I said, ‘Do you have an organisation like NNPC over there?’ He said no. And America produces oil more than any country? He said yes.
“So I asked him, ‘How do they do it in America?’ And he said taxation, and I decided that I will go by taxation too.”
He also criticised the current administration for the delay in passing the petroleum industry governance bill (PIGB).
Atiku, who said the level of unemployment in the country is worrying, narrated his encounter with idle youths during his campaign rallies.
On his part, Obi cited the Chinese economy, saying one of the ways Nigeria can tackle the issue of unemployment is to invest in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES).
“We should be willing to work with people that can learn from nations. The only way to tackle unemployment aggressively is to look at other nations you can compare us with and see how they have been able to address that.
The best nation we can learn from is China. How did China solve the problem of unemployment? They achieved that by using the MSMES. Sixty per cent of employment in China today comes from that sector. That percentage is responsible for the industrial output and GDP increase. They supported MSMES. We need to do same here,” Obi said.
He argued that fighting corruption is not an economic policy.
“No country in the world will focus on only fighting corruption, the various toll gates in government are a problem. In Ukraine and Rwanda, money goes directly from the federal government to schools unlike here where money goes through different agencies. These things should be removed from our system. You should also reduce the meeting points of money and people. And this can be achieved through technology,” he added.