Atiku Makes Bid For Presidency, Again •Talks On Salvaging Nigeria •Faces Stiff Opposition

By on April 29, 2017


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Aside the present President of Nigeria -Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is the other person that has passionately sought for the occupation of the country’s seat of power; Aso Rock Villa, Abuja. Since he made his first appearance at the Presidential Primary of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992, the best he could secure has been the Vice-Presidential slot.

But as the race for the 2019 general election gathers momentum, there is the very likelihood that he will be contesting for the Presidency again.

The Turakin Adamawa made his pitch at the formal public presentation of the Daily Stream newspaper, at the Banquet Hall, Nigeria Airforce Conference Centre, Kado, Abuja last Thursday.

In his paper, entitled; ‘The Challenge of Unity, Diversity and National Development: Nigeria at Crossroads’, Atiku took a cursory look at the country and its myriad challenges.He delved into its polity, balancing his argument on the synergy between – Unity and Diversity on one hand and National Development and Leadership on the other.

According to him, “The country is truly at a crossroads, and things are made worse by the cocktail of economic, social, political and problems which we have had to contend with, and which add to the abysmally low estimation of our country even by its own citizens.

“However, I am not here just to lament over the sad and unenviable state of affairs in Nigeria. I firmly believe in the viability of the Nigerian Project, I remain unshaken and completely persuaded that we can eventually change the story of Nigeria for good by collectively making Nigeria a productive, prosperous, peaceful and united nation whose people are happy and contented and one that is able to really lead Africa and assume a pride of place in the comity of nations.

“But to achieve that, we must elevate and steer conversation away from empty rhetoric and platitudes. We must instigate and see to the full and faithful implementation of profound changes in the political structure, organization, functions and performance of state, and a radical re-organization of government, its organs and personnel.”

Digging into his wealth of experience, he noted that, “We purport to operate a federal structure, but over the years our federalism has experienced fundamental distortion to the extent that there is now a huge, acrimonious debate as to the true nature and character of our brand of federalism.

“What went wrong? We have 36 states and the FCT that are almost totally dependent on proceeds from the federation account to even fund their overheads. Thus they have hardly focused on inventing avenues of diversifying revenue collection from internal sources states such as Lagos has been doing in recent years. So we are shouldering the burden of nearly 36 dependent bureaucracies, most of which commit at least 75 percent of their annual budget to recurrent expenditure. 

“We therefore have an almighty federal government that has assumed so much powers and responsibilities that it does virtually everything either alone or in tandem with the other federating units. In the end, very little gets done at both the federal and state levels. The people get disillusioned, and in frustration they embrace and imbibe all sorts of views, beliefs and ideas including ones that suggest that people from the other ethnic, religious or regional group is responsible for their woes.”

He added: “Our beloved country has been in the throes of severe and debilitating social and economic problems. Virtually all the development indices have not been favourable: massive and pervasive poverty, double-digit inflation, unemployment, dwindling foreign exchange receipts, poor GDP growth rates, high infant and maternal mortality, high levels of illiteracy, and millions of school-age children out of school.”

The solution, he stated, is to get, “the structures of our federalism and governance right. Our current system, which is characterised by a focus on sharing rather than production, is clearly not conducive to development.

“Our current system, which is characterized by a focus on sharing rather than production, is clearly not conducive to development. For Nigeria to develop – or even make any appreciable progress – we must re-structure Nigeria’s political, administrative and political architecture. 

“That way we can free resources that would otherwise go to unviable ventures and projects, then commit same to areas that directly cater for and benefit the people. Restructuring will facilitate the emergence of a leaner bureaucracy, enhance efficiency, block wastages and promote more prudent management. It will make for happier constituent units more committed to the progress and unity of the country and the emergence of a sense of nationhood.

“How do we do that? We should, first, dispassionately and painstakingly re-visit our 36-state structure vis-a-vis the idea of overly dominant federal government. Second, we should devolve power from the centre to the federating units: many of the items in the Exclusive List should be devolved to the states or any other agreed federating units. Third, that devolution of powers must include an end to federal intrusion in local government administration. The so-called States/Local Governments joint account has virtually absolved state governments of responsibilities to fund local governments while they virtually confiscate the funds allocated by the federal government to the local government. To have the federal government create local governments and directly fund them makes nonsense of the word 'local.' Those powers should be vested in the state governments. And it should include an end to federal ownership of interstate roads, schools, hospitals and the uniformity in remunerations across the country. Fourth, we must sit down, discuss, and agree on the nature of our fiscal federalism – how to share our resources. I am on record as having advocated for the control of rents by the federating units from which they are derived while the federal government retains its powers to levy taxes. That will make us all productive again and our federating units to engage in healthy rivalries and competition, which will only result in more progress.”

Atiku didn’t lose sight of challenges facing the country’s leadership; “To be sure, good leaders do make a difference in the fortunes of countries. However, leaders operate within structural constraints imposed by constitutions, laws and regulations and the local and world economy.”

But, what are his chances, the aides of ailing President Buhari are optimistic of his running for the second term.

Aside that, the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) is undergoing so much turmoil that it will take the same miracle that created it in the first instance, to salvage it from total collapse, and early enough for it to organize a national conference.

Atiku has been busy.

Reports showed that he has been weighing his options.

He has been linked to the proposed mega opposition party.

The Ahmed Makarfi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and aggrieved chieftains of the APC were said to have intensified efforts aimed at forming the party, late last year.

It was gathered that those who were participating in the talks included former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and a national leader of the APC,  Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

But no sooner was the report leaked that the former Lagos State Governor,  who is also one of the founding fathers of APC denied plotting to leave the ruling All Progressives Congress for a new party.

He denied that he was partnering with Atiku, and the Ahmed Markafi faction of Peoples Democratic Party, to form a mega party.

“This is a party I labored with others to build,” said Tinubu said on Twitter via his handle @AsiwajuTinubu. “We would not abandon it for another. Millions of Nigerians who voted are watching and praying.”

Atiku’s media aide, Mr. Paul Ibe, also stated that his boss remains a loyal All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain.

But whatever the case may be, political activities remain in top gear across the country. Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, recently, accused Atiku of already planning to contest the 2019 presidency.

Also, the National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, during the week, charged the members of the party’s National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi of having perfected ways to form another political party.He said this was one of the reasons why he and members of his National Working Committee have decided to pull out of the peace plan being spearheaded by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

At the heat of the mega opposition party controversy, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was quoted as claiming that one major condition for him to support the mega party in the offing is the non-emergence of Atiku as the party’s presidential candidate. 

This is not surprising because Obasanjo has never hidden his opposition against Atiku’s presidential ambition.

Already, promoters of a political association, Mega Party, under the auspices of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), recently paid the mandatory N1million to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the registration of the party.

A top member of the party, Dr. James Okoroma, whose name was forwarded to the commission as the National Secretary of the party, stated that the ADP paid the compulsory fee in January this year. Okoroma stated that the ADP also fulfilled the requirement for the submission of the list of its National Working Committee members to the commission in January.

It is not clear if Atiku has a hand in this development.

Nevertheless, there are many likely political permutations, the field is still open, the main opposition party, PDP is in disarray; the fate of Buhari has to be decided and while these are unfolding, it is pertinent to note that there are very few President materials out there, except, the political godfathers decide to go for another dark horse like former president Jonathan.

Source cattnews

Posted 29/04/2017 10:32:48 AM




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