By Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Former vice-president and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has described 2020 as symbolic and a year that will herald a better future for the country and Nigerians.
In a statement the former vice-president personally signed, he said that 2020 is symbolic in many ways.
According to him, 2020 heralds a brand new decade and secondly and probably more importantly, the new year will require Nigerians to stay together more than ever before to take headlong the common enemy of insecurity that challenges the everyday lives of Nigerians.
He stated in new year message: “I do not share the sentiment when some people claim that the out gone 2019 was a successful year for Nigerians. Such sentiments is reductionist and does the harm of making us have a false sense of victory.”
He said that the bitter truth is that Nigeria is still in the throes of economic instability, with more people losing jobs and the attendant outcome of more children being out of school and more families having hard time in accessing the basic needs of life.
Atiku said: “In this New Year, however, I will rather ask that Nigerians stand together with renewed vigour and determination to battle the hydra-headed demon of insecurity that has plagued us in the past decade.
“We must challenge the inadequacies that made us become the global headquarters of extreme poverty; much as we must work hard and fast enough to eliminate the scourge of out-of-school children in the country. These are the challenges that this new decade has thrown at us and we cannot afford to slumber and submit to defeat.”
The former vice-president said that the problems of extreme poverty and scant investments in education played huge roles in fueling the problems of violent extremism, which Nigerians spent the past decade contending with, adding that: “We cannot win the fight against terrorism if we do nothing to reduce or eliminate poverty and illiteracy.”
Atiku explained that the reality of this new decade requires Nigerians to recalibrate its approaches and pursue some tough choices, adding that if failure is not an option, then Nigerians must let go of the ego and conveniences.
In view of this, he said that Nigerians must start to do things differently, stating that: “If we are honest about our desire for a better and prosperous future. There must be a deliberate effort to improve the material wellbeing of the people, by lifting millions of Nigerians out of the extreme poverty belt as a start, and to prosperity. Government must rethink many of its policies that is sinking more people into the abyss of extreme poverty.”
He said that it is incumbent on government at all levels to pursue policies that will provide decent housing to the mass majority; put food on the table; provide healthcare and education.
“We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different outcome. It is therefore high time we cause a rejig of economic policies that will promote an expansion of the economy and create jobs opportunities aplenty,” he said.
At the individual level, he said that the current moment calls for more empathy and sacrifice as the New Year and a new decade come with the opportunity to make better impressions in the lives of Nigerians and in the lives of people around Nigerians.
Accordingly, the former vice-president said: “I wish to restate that our collective call for the rule of law and our history about the struggle for democratic rule did not envisage a situation where judicial pronouncements would be worth less than the paper upon which they are rendered.
“It is a bad advertisement for the country and its democracy if declarations made by the court are not respected without the executive arm of government agreeing to same. Any democracy is not worth the appellation if the principle of separation of power is not ingrained in it. In the new year, government should not pretend to be democratic, but rather act according to the fundamentals of a democracy.”
Above all, Atiku said that he expects that all Nigerians in the New Year would ensure that there will be a better observance of rule of law and greater respect for citizens’ democratic rights.
He said he anticipates a change of attitude across board in the new year and new decade, while wishing every Nigerian a happy and prosperous 2020.