THE presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice-President of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, has said that he will unite all Nigerians, strengthen national security and build a strong and robust economy as elected president of the country.
Atiku, who made his intention known while featuring at an interactive session organised by the Arewa Joint Committee, on Saturday, said without unity and national security, it would be difficult to build a prosperous nation.
He noted that with a political career that spans more than three decades, he stands shoulder-high as a Northerner who has built bridges of unity across the country.
“I have been in politics for more than three decades and I am a Northerner. So, if you ask me why I am the best candidate to lead Nigeria in 2023, I will simply say that what Nigeria needs is a pan-Nigerian president, not whether he is Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa-Fulani.”
The AJC had hinted that it would select prominent Northern elders and leaders from the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation (SABMF), Jamiyyar Matan Arewa (JMA) Arewa House (Centre for Historical Development and Research) and Arewa Research and Documentation Project (ARDP) to parley with six of the presidential candidates from 15 October to Monday 17 October.
Atiku at the party affirmed that he is committed to rebuilding the country’s battered economy.
“I am committed to articulating and implementing transformation and development agenda of a united, secure and prosperous country,” he avowed, noting that Nigeria’s unity has never been threatened like now with an increasing number of citizens openly challenging their allegiance to Nigeria’s corporate existence through violent agitations and misguided demand for ethno-regional autonomy because of widespread feelings of marginalisation and neglect.
“Nigeria has been overwhelmed by insecurity in all parts of the country. Sadly, we have reached a point where the functions of the state have been usurped by separatists, bandits, insurgents and terrorists.
“Despite her vast resources, Nigeria has remained one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world. Our economy is fragile and vulnerable. Job losses, eroding incomes and lack of citizens’ access to basic amenities have pushed more than 90 million people below the poverty line.
“The public education system is ill-equipped and has consistently underperformed, keeping millions of our children out of school and producing graduates with skills and competencies which are not aligned to the needs of our communication and our industries.
“Incessant Industrial actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions of educational institutions have undoubtedly affected the quality of our workforce with far-reaching consequences on the economy.
“Nigeria has continued to [maintained] a faulty, complex federal structure with a high degree of centralisation at the centre.
“The Federal Government has succeeded in accumulating many responsibilities which belong to the other weaker levels of government. The Federal Government appropriates, along with these responsibilities, huge resources to the detriment of the states and local governments”.
But Atiku said he has solutions to all these problems and has gathered enough experience to address the challenges. He, therefore, appealed to the gathering to give him the opportunity to bring his wealth of experience to bear and provide good governance for the country.