By Chukwudi Nweje
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday declared that he has a framework for the restructuring of Nigeria if he is elected president in next year’s presidential polls.
He said he had analysed the problems and challenges facing Nigeria before declaring his interest to contest the 2023 presidential election and that his team of experts drawn from across the geopolitical zones have drawn a framework for restructuring that will be laid before the National Assembly on his first day as president of Nigeria.
“I assembled a team of constitutional lawyers from all the six geo-political zones to give me a proposal on the restructuring of Nigeria. I already have a framework that I will lay before the National Assembly on the first day of my administration in office, but I cannot give you the details now. Amending the constitution requires the National Assembly and the state assemblies.”
The former vice president spoke at a forum organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), under the banner of the Nigerian Editors Forum on Wednesday and also vowed to run a government of national unity as a way of uniting all sections of the country.
He said, “We agreed at the 1994 constitutional conference that the next president of Nigeria will come from the south. So, in 1999 we ceded the presidency to the South and the two major political parties presented presidential candidates from the South West. Then, the country was divided between the North and the South. Though the PDP won the election overwhelmingly, we brought in ministers from all the parties and all sections of the country. With that move, we were able to unite the country. My administration will similarly form an all-inclusive government in 2023, it is part of my plan to unite the country.”
He vowed that his administration would run a private sector-driven government, noting that his administration would pursue privatisation, which he said is the trend all over the world as the government has no reason to do business.
He said, “I will continue with the economic policies we pursued between 1999 and 2007. We would liberalise the economy and promote the private sector to create jobs and wealth. I would continue with privatisation of our public assets because if you look at the greatest countries of the world, the government has very little role to play in the economy, it allows the private sector to drive the economy.
“If you look at the construction of highways and railways, they cost a lot of money. If we concession these public utilities to the private sector it would save the government money which can be channeled into other areas of governance. The concessioning will also create jobs and wealth”, he added.
On the insecurity in the country, he said his administration will invest in the recruitment and training of more personnel for the police and armed forces, even as the personnel would be trained to improve their professionalism and efficiency.
Other areas where Atiku promised to improve include education, which he said is a vital sector for national development.
He regretted that history has been removed from the education curriculum of schools and noted that such is not good for the progress of the country.
“Education is too dear to my heart, we can’t achieve all these things we want to do without education, without education all of us here will not be here”, he added.
He promised that women would have prominent roles in a PDP-led government the same way they did from 1999 to 2007.
Atiku said the PDP is reconciling the problem with the G5 governors and expressed optimism that it would be resolved before the general elections.
He said, “I can assure you that talks are going on, it is a family issue, and we regard it as such, we are discussing, and we will resolve the issues.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the president of the NGE, Mr. Mustapha Isah noted that the Editors Forum aims at interrogating candidates on their position on political developments in the country.
“The media played a key role in the enthronement of the Fourth Republic; it is in our self-interest to help nature the baby we helped birth.”
Dignitaries that accompanied Atiku Abubakar to the forum include the director General of the Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation and Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; former PDP presidential aspirant, Mohammed Hayatudeen; Founder of RayPower/ AIT, Chief Raymond Dokpesi; former Cross Rivers state governor, Lyiel Imoke, Sen. Dino Melaye, among others.