Atiku: Why I’m Seeking to Be Nigeria’s President in 2023

•Says failure of leadership threatening Nigeria’s existence 

•Vows to tame govt’s involvement in running public enterprises

Emmanuel Addeh

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday said that he was aspiring to become the president of Nigeria in 2023 because of what he described as the failure of leadership by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a policy document titled : “My covenant with Nigerians”, Atiku stated that if he had been allowed in 2019 to take over the reins of governance in Nigeria, Nigeria would have been the better for it.

He insisted that the outcome of the 2019 elections was a lost opportunity to put in place the much needed purposeful leadership that would work to achieve the noble objectives of the “Atiku Plan” for Nigerians.

Noting that the failure of leadership by the APC led government was staring every Nigerian in the face, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart maintained that the country’s development challenges were progressively worsening and assuming frightening dimensions.

Atiku argued that at no other time has the poverty in the quality of leadership and governance been worse than it has been since 2015.

According to the politician, Nigeria’s unity has never been threatened like now, with an increasing number of Nigerian citizens openly challenging their allegiance to Nigeria’s corporate existence through violent agitations and misguided demands for ethno-regional autonomy because of widespread feeling of neglect.

He noted that Nigeria has never been so overwhelmed by insecurity in all parts of the country, explaining that sadly, the country has reached a point where the functions of the state have been usurped by separatists, bandits, insurgents, and terrorists.

Atiku pointed out that despite the country’s vast resources, Nigeria has remained one of the poorest and unequal countries in the world, with the economy remaining fragile and vulnerable.

Added to those, he said, were increasing job losses, eroding incomes and lack of citizens’ access to basic amenities which have pushed more than 90 million people below the poverty line.

Atiku explained that the public education system remains ill-equipped and has consistently underperformed, keeping millions of children out of school and producing graduates with skills and competencies which are not aligned to the needs of the communities and industries.

“Incessant industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions of educational institutions has undoubtedly affected the quality of our workforce with far reaching consequences on the economy.

“Nigeria has continued to operate a faulty, complex federal structure with a high degree of centralisation at the centre. The federal government has succeeded in accumulating many responsibilities which belong to the other (weaker) levels of government.

“ The federal government appropriates, along with these responsibilities, huge resources to the detriment of the states and local governments.

“It  has become fashionable for the APC-led government to blame the opposition and external factors for Nigeria’s economic woes. The evidence, however, is overwhelming that the country’s underperformance is largely attributable to leadership failure in the management of the state.

“The APC-led government lacks the critical competencies to implement innovative solutions to our problems and deliver on their mandate with the desired impact,” he lamented.

He added that the moment has presented another opportunity for Nigerians to ensure the emergence of an experienced, courageous, and result focused leader to find a way through the country’s tough situation and make a positive difference.

As a private businessman of many years, he noted that he possesses a deep understanding of Nigeria’s economy and its challenges, explaining that as vice president, the administration demonstrated willingness to reform, and to implement a formal development agenda.

“ As head of the economic management team, he stressed that he was instrumental to the design of a private sector revival strategy and advocated for the opening up of the economy for private sector investments in the information technology sector.

“Today, it is undeniably the fastest growing services sector in the Nigerian economy,” he stated.

He noted that his five-point agenda will seek to restore Nigeria’s unity through equity, social justice as well as co-operation and consensus amongst its heterogeneous peoples.

In addition, he promised to establish a strong and effective democratic government that guarantees the safety and security of life and property as well as build a strong, resilient, and prosperous economy that creates jobs and wealth and lift the poor out of poverty.

Furthermore, he pledged to promote a true federal system which will provide for a strong federal government to guarantee national unity while allowing the federating units to set their own priorities.

He also promised to improve and strengthen the education system to equip its recipients with the education and skills required to be competitive in the new global order which he said is driven by innovation, science, and technology.

“I believe the foundation of any government is rooted in a social contract. Government emerges and finds legitimacy in the expectation that it shall work for the common good particularly to defend man’s inalienable rights to life, property, and dignity.

“The attempt to uphold and promote the social contract is manifested in the deliberate efforts to meet and give practical expression to the terms of the contract through policies and programmes in all aspects of life that will guarantee the common good for all.

“The proposed policies and programmes in this document are not subject to the electoral cycle; but involve short, medium, and long-term strategies. Our economic agenda has an over-arching objective of providing a more hospitable environment for businesses to thrive and create jobs and wealth for Nigerian citizens,” Atiku said.

He stated that his government will re-affirm the criticality of the private sector leadership and greater private sector participation in development; break government monopoly in all infrastructure sectors, including the refineries, rail transportation and power transmission and give private investors a larger role in funding and managing the sectors.

He also vowed to allow the market greater leverage in determining prices, explaining that this way , Nigeria shall eliminate the persistent price distortions occasioned by current interventionist exchange rate management policy.

“Government intervention, where absolutely necessary, will be done responsibly and judiciously. Our economic agenda will seek to alter the current trajectory of the Nigerian economy,” he said.

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