Atiku: My Government Will Restructure Nigeria, Quell Separatist Agitations
Former Vice-President and Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has said part of what his government would do if elected into power was to restructure Nigeria and quell separatist agitations, particularly, in the Southeast.
Atiku also said Nigeria was in very bad shape and that rescuing it required proper preparations and attention to detail, not just in terms of general issues affecting the whole country but also issues specific to each zone and the states therein.
The PDP candidate, who spoke on Tuesday in Enugu State, when he met with party stakeholders in the Southeast, together with his running mate and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, in furtherance of Atiku’s consultations, preparatory to the commencement of campaigns for the 2023 presidential election, however, said any government that planned to solve Nigeria’s. economic crisis must carry the South East along.
He said the country was more divided today than it has ever been and that part of his responsibility if elected as president would be to reunify through equity justice and fairness.
According to him, restructuring that devolves powers from the federal government and gives states the power to set their priorities is better for this zone than what the country currently has and has had since the late 1960s.
“Since the late 1960s, Nigeria has had a faulty federal structure that concentrates too much power and resources at the Centre, thereby turning the federating states into appendages or parastatals of the federal government,” he said.
He maintained that his government would work with the legislatures to restructure the federal system and devolve more powers to the states with corresponding resources.
“That way, states will be better able to set their own development priorities while the federal government focuses on setting and maintaining standards,” he said, adding that a federal system that did not encourage the federating units to compete among themselves in order to be better was a faulty one.
He explained that restructuring would help tackle the feeling of marginalisation, which is providing an excuse for the separatist agitations in this zone and that national unity would benefit the people of this zone, who needed a wider platform to operate on.
While noting that the Southeast had supported him through thick and thin and would always remember that, he said the region has produced sons and daughters, who had played very positive roles in the development of the country.
“The region remains a key contributor to economic activities in this country and a government that wants to revive our economy and provide opportunities for our people must carry the Southeast along, “he said.
He, however, regretted that insecurity now pervades the Southeast as much as other zones, a situation which according to him, was negatively impacting the economy of the zone and the livelihoods of its people, which were being destroyed by the Monday sit-at-home.
He explained that his five priorities, which included reunifying the country, improving security, fixing the economy; restructuring the federation and improving human capital development, would have the most impact on all other aspects of development and the quality of life as citizens and as a country.
“To move in one direction to develop our country and improve our people’s lives will require giving every segment of this country a sense of belonging, not just by meeting constitutional requirements on federal character but through government policies, programmes and projects, and our body language and utterances as leaders, “he said.
In his address, Okowa lamented that Nigeria had never been disunited as it is under the APC leadership, adding that the only solution to the current problems confronting the nation would be for Nigerians to give the PDP and its candidate an opportunity to serve.
He lauded the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for providing true leadership and mobilising party members to attend the event, stressing that, “PDP is Southeast and Southeast is PDP.”
Earlier, Ugwuanyi, who was the leader of the PDP in the Southeast and candidate of the party for Enugu North Senatorial District, assured Atiku that the state was essentially a PDP state.
Atiku and Okowa were well received in Enugu by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Abia State deputy governor; Ude Oko Chukwu, former Imo State governor, Emeka Ihedioha; the Board of Trustee Chairman, Adolphus Wabara; Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Amb. Umar Damagum; the National Secretary of the party, Senator Sam Anyanwu; the Acting Chairman, former Presidents of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and Dr Bukola Saraki.
Others were members of the BOT of the party, including Senator Dr Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, Dr Okwesileze Nwodo, Senator Ben Obi and Amb. Mrs Justina Eze; the National Vice Chairman (Southeast zone), Chief Dr Ali Odefa; the PDP governorship candidates in Enugu, Abia, and Ebonyi States, Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, Prof. Uche Ikonne and Mr Ifeanyi Odii respectively, the party’s deputy governorship candidates, the PDP National Vice Chairman, Southeast zone, Chief Odefa, Senator Ben Obi and Senator Dino Melaye.
Also on the ground to receive the PDP candidate were serving and former principal officers of the National Assembly; serving and former members of the National Assembly; serving and former members of the National Working Committee of the party; former ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Speakers of the state Houses of Assembly; Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates of the party; serving and former state chairmen and secretaries of the party; state youth leaders, women leaders, publicity secretaries of the party and LGA chairmen among others.