the country’s diversity is being dangerously mismanaged
by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday, March 23, joined the 2023 presidential race at a colourful declaration ceremony at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. Having consulted widely across the country, Abubakar finally made public his intention to compete with other aspirants for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The theme of his declaration was Unity, at a time the country’s diversity is being dangerously mismanaged by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. “As one people with one future, we will be one country,” he said, promising to rescue Nigeria from the present dystopia.
“Presently, Nigeria is a sinking ship; it must be rescued urgently. That is why I am happy to announce my candidacy for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I offer myself to rescue the sinking ship. Under my captainship, this ship will sail to a brighter course by the grace of God.”
He philosophised that: “In the face of the worst division, this country can still unite. In the face of economic hardship, prosperity is coming. In the face of the worst insecurity, peace is possible.”
Abubakar said the 2023 presidential election is a turning point. “The 2023 election is not just like the usual elections; it is a referendum to decide whether we want greatness or continuous destruction. It is a choice between two paths: the path of unity and progress, or the path of division and backwardness. We need a new kind of leadership that will steer us to a positive path. In 2023, we want a President who has ideas on how to fix Nigeria. We want a president who understands, who inspires, and is empathetic.”
If given the opportunity to be president, Atiku has narrowed down his priorities to five key areas: “Unity of Nigeria, Security, Economy, Education, and devolving more resources and powers to the federating units.”
Dismissing the APC government as a failure, he noted that “Since the civil war, the unity of Nigeria has never been threatened as it is today. Nigerians are losing hope in the oneness of this country… The APC administration has failed in its fundamental responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of Nigeria. The most significant human right is the right to life, which has not been protected under the current APC administration. Our military forces are fighting on the front lines without the equipment and morale”.
On the economy, he said the APC has ruined the Nigerian economy. “All the macro-economic indicators are not favorable under the APC administration. APC inherited single-digit inflation; they now increased it to about 16 percent. When APC came into power, unemployment was around nine percent; now, unemployment is more than 33 percent. The exchange rate was N197 to a Dollar in 2015, but in the hand of APC, Naira suffered the worst devaluation ever. As we speak, the exchange rate is more than N400 to a dollar, the official rate. That was not the change we wanted. If we get elected, we will create alternative sources of foreign exchange supply to Nigeria, and reduce importation to increase the value of the Naira.”
He said he would guarantee ‘absolute security’ as a basis for prosperity. “They said we should go back to the farmlands. How can you ask people to go to the farms while you have not secured the farms? People cannot go back to the farm because they are afraid they could be kidnapped or killed.”
He promised a ‘liberal economy’ of lower taxes for small business and low income earners, and expansion for the private sector to spur economic growth.
On the energy crisis facing the country, he says he has the Midas’ touch. “Nigerians cannot afford to pay high petrol prices. That is why we must ensure sufficient refining capacities within Nigeria. If we do that, petrol will be cheaper because it is locally produced. In the meantime, we will protect Nigerians from higher petrol prices through a new comprehensive Energy Policy.”
On electricity, the former vice president promised “an adequate and affordable electricity supply for every Nigerian. We will ensure sufficient investment in the sector. We will leverage renewable energies to power homes and commercial centres”.
While promising to focus his policy on the youth, he said his government would be a transition from the senior citizens to the younger generation.
After four previous failed attempts at the presidency, Atiku says the vibes could not be better than they are now. “This time around is different; our journey will not end at the poll; we will get to work and rescue Nigeria. I invite every Nigerian to join me in this mission to save our dear country. I believe together, we can do it. This is what we owe to Nigeria and the future generation. I have never been this optimistic; and with your support and God’s grace, we will get to the Promised Land”.
Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, and Abubakar’s running mate in the 2019 presidential election, attended the declaration to the surprise of many people as he is seen as co-presidential aspirant under PDP. However, he sees it differently.
“The reason why I am here is that this is new. As you know, I play politics differently. And to me, politics is not a war; it is a relationship, and Atiku is my leader. He is my boss, he is a senior brother. If he invites me for anything, I will attend. Aspiring for anything does not say I should not keep my relationship that is very cordial, and everything.
“I am aspiring, but remember I always say it. Atiku is a unifier; he believes in Nigeria, he is a good man, and every time he invites me for anything, I will be there. That notwithstanding, I am aspiring; I want to serve Nigeria. We need someone with capacity, competency, and someone who can bring Nigeria together, and someone that will tackle the economy”.