A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has said he would restructure Nigeria in six months if elected president in the 2019 elections.
Mr Abubakar stated this Wednesday during a question and answer session at the Chatham House in UK after delivering a lecture titled: “The Importance of Strengthening State Economic Management Systems”.
He also said he would offer a matching grant of $250 million each to the 36 states of the federation to challenge them to enhance their Internally Generated Revenue.
He said he was not surprised by President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that Nigerian youth were lazy because he (Buhari) had never managed a business.
“It is doable. In fact, what I’ve told many Nigerians at home is that if you give me six months, I know I will be able to achieve a fast level of restructuring, otherwise the concurrent list issue.
“It’s very easy to deal with it because there is no state that you will call and say ‘I want to give you this responsibility together with the resources’, and will say ‘no’.”
He said he wants people of every state to be able to hold their leaders accountable because of how the federal Government “is being accused of everything, even when it’s not in its area of responsibility.”
“I want to be able to resolve that so that citizens can hold their local leaders responsible for lapses and maladministration.”
Asked if he would consider running as an independent candidate should he fail to secure the ticket of Peoples Democratic Party, which he recently defected back to, he said, “We’ll wait until that time”.
He added that he would make Nigeria attractive for those living in diaspora to return.
On President Muhammadu Buhari’s description of some Nigerian youth as lazy bunch, Mr Abubakar said the president would not describe Nigerian youth as lazy if he (Buhari) was an employer of labour.
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“On the issue of youth, I am an employer of labour and most of that labour is youth-dominated and I make a lot of profits from my businesses.
“I don’t agree with the assumption that the youths are lazy or they are indolent. Certainly, I don’t. But I’m not surprised with the fellow (Buhari) who made that remark because he’s not an employer of labour, he has no business, he has no educational institution so he doesn’t relate with youth in schools so I don’t blame him.”
He criticised the multiple exchange rate in the country, saying it does not encourage foreign investors to put their money in Nigeria.
He said “his federal government” will continue to offer support, despite the $250 million grant for states that rank below the average development index, until such a time as they are able to become self-sufficient and sustaining.
“Beyond institutional and administrative reforms to improve operational efficiency of the revenue agencies, the federating units will be challenged to double their efforts in rebuilding the fiscal-social contract, by enhancing service delivery in key areas such as health, education, water supply and infrastructural development.
“Only this would change the predominant perception that government revenues are diverted to the private bank accounts of politicians and their cronies.”
Mr Abubakar who defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress to the opposition PDP, on whose platform he served as vice president, is seeking the party’s nomination to serve as its presidential flag bearer in upcoming 2019 presidential election.
He criticised senators of his former party, APC, of betrayal following the “shocking and saddening” decision of the Senate not to grant devolution of power to the states during the constitutional amendment last year.
He said the decision by the APC-controlled Senate was “a lost opportunity to honour one of the party’s election promises to bring about change by shifting power closer to the people in the remotest regions of our country”.