The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) 2019 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has promised to lift 50 million Nigerians out of poverty, in the first two years of his administration, if he wins the election.
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Atiku, former vice president, also promised that his government would attract investments and support 50 million Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises.
Atiku who spoke when he unveiled his policy launch through a live Facebook address in Yola, Adamawa, yesterday, said the idea is to double the size of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to $900 billion by 2025.
He said the investments would create a minimum of 2.5 million jobs annually and lift at least 50 million people from poverty in the first two years.
He said his team would also help to create jobs by innovating flagship programmes such as the national open apprenticeship through the capacity of master-craftsmen and women to train one-million new apprentices every year.
“Our national innovation fund and SME venture capital fund initiatives will provide stable and sustainable long-term support to aspiring entrepreneurs,” he said.
Atiku said his plan to restructure the country will lead to an increase in the internally generated revenue of states and federal governments.
He said if the country is restructured, “no state will receive less funding than they get today, in fact, all would receive more and the harder a state works the more they will get,” adding that they were not just his plan, but that of Nigerians.
The former vice president said above all, it is a plan that would help create job.
“Without jobs, there is crime, drug use and insecurity. Without jobs, where is the hope for a better life and a better future? We will begin the process of sharing our policies that form my plan to create jobs, restructure the polity, and get Nigeria working again.”
He said that would be done via the matching grants that we would be provided to state governments that increased their own revenue.
He also pledged to offer an inclusive leadership, because “Atiku Abubakar is 100 percent for 100 percent of Nigerians, 100 per cent of the time.”
The PDP presidential candidate said that he was not out to make promises without plan as witnessed in the past, adding that it is one thing to promise and another thing to deliver.
“I am not one for making grandiose promises. Rather than promises, I believe in policies. A promise is an indication to do a future action. A policy is a plan to achieve future goals.
“I believe in setting goals and coming up with realistic plans and policies to achieving those goals. To me, leadership is having the discipline to commit to one’s goals until they are a reality.
“I have succeeded in running my private enterprises which now employ 50,000 Nigerians because I believe in policies and I have the discipline to stay with them until they become reality.
“It is my desire to run for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not because I have a bag full of promises, but because I am prepared to lead,” he said.
Abubakar said in the last 18 months, he had worked with the best experts Nigeria had to offer to come up with policies and plans that when implemented would get Nigeria going in the right direction again.
He recalled that as vice president from 1999 to 2007, he chaired the national economic council that gave Nigeria her highest and most consistent GDP growth of over six per cent per annum.
He said said in spite of the fact that crude oil prices at that time were much lower than they were today, under the leadership of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria paid off its entire foreign debt.
“We also introduced the GSM revolution that saw Nigeria go from 100,000 phone lines to over 100 million today. We were able to achieve these, and much more, because we had a plan called the national economic empowerment and development strategy.
“That plan worked, and today I have the pleasure of unveiling our policies and strategies, not promises, to take Nigeria from where she is right now, to where she needs to be.
“This is my plan to get Nigeria working again. A plan that will give Nigerian workers a living wage. A plan that will give Nigeria’s youth a world-class education.
“A plan that will empower Nigerian women, reduce maternal mortality and increase their financial stability. A plan that will cater for the elderly, so our people are not afraid of growing old.
“A plan that will invest in our failing infrastructure.”
The Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, however, faulted Atiku, as it argued that anyone who promised to restructure the country between six to 12 months “is telling the biggest lie.”
Festus Keyamo, spokesman for the group, said Buhari would not engage in deceit by promising what cannot be achieved.
He said the time span given by Atiku cannot work with the constitutional provisions for amendments that will allow restructuring.
“In the campaign manual, the president has not said that he will object to a constitutional amendment. He has not engaged in a deceitful nature to say I want to restructure when he knows he cannot in six months.
“Anybody that tells you that restructuring is something that should be done outside the amendment of the constitution is a lie. Restructuring is about devolution of powers, fiscal federalism. You cannot do that without amending the constitution.
“We call it the restructuring farce by the opposition. It is a farce because there is a clear procedure in the constitution for amending the constitution.”
Asked how the Buhari administration plans to fund the projects listed to be completed in four years, Keyamo said: “They will find a way. It is important to have a plan on the table, expecting resources to come.”