At a campaign rally recently in Abeokuta, Ogun State, the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is reported to have announced to the teeming crowd of supporters that, as far as he was concerned, once he comes into power, all anyone needs to get done to receive contracts during his administration is simply to win their polling booth.
He is quoted as having said: “The only way, as far as I’m concerned, if I’m President, if you come and say you want a job or you want a contract, I will ask you, let me have the result of your polling booth, and that is what I’m going to direct to everybody because unless we do that, we will not win the elections.
“You are all members of the PDP and supporters of the PDP, you want PDP to return to power, please, I beg of you, make sure you win your polling booths,” he said.
This clearly shows what to expect from an Atiku presidency. In fact, this isn’t something new.
Atiku Abubakar has always been known to be a transactional person. It is on record that he has promised to sell off the country’s oil refineries. How this is going to play out remains to be seen, but such sell-offs may not really be based on expertise.
Atiku’s policy direction
In a recently released policy document titled ‘My Covenant With Nigerians’ an updated version of his 2019 policy document titled ‘The Atiku Plan’, Atiku once again articulated his policy direction if elected president.
The policy direction is hinged on a 5-point development agenda which seeks to restore Nigeria’s unity through equity, social justice, as well as cooperation and consensus amongst the country’s vastly heterogeneous population.
Secondly, he plans to establish a strong and effective democratic government that guarantees the safety and security of life and property. Thirdly, he plans to build a strong, resilient, and prosperous economy that creates jobs and wealth and lifts the poor out of poverty.
Fourth, promote a true federal system which will provide for a strong federal government to guarantee national unity while allowing the federating units to set their own priorities and improve and strengthen the education system to equip its recipients with the education and skills required to be competitive in the new global order, which is driven by innovation, science, and to lead healthy, productive, and meaningful lives.
According to the blueprint, his 5-point agenda is to: To return to unity in diversity, ensure the safety of life and property, build a dynamic economy for prosperity, restructure the polity to foster unity and stability, and provide qualitative education.
Here are 5 things that will happen if Atiku becomes Nigeria’s next president:
Privatisation of more national assets
As previously stated, Atiku has long advocated for the relocation of major national assets such as oil refineries. He recently restated this during an interview with the Voice of America (Huasa). Now the issue isn’t so much about the sales but much more about who he is going to sell such assets to. Will they truly be deserving of such infrastructure, with adequate capacity to manage it, or will they be sold solely on the basis of loyalty and friendship?
Atiku saw to the privatisation of several enterprises by the Bureau of Public Enterprises while he was vice president and it is clear many did not turn out well. Case in point being the privatisation of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).
Fight against Corruption
According to Atiku, he plans to fight corruption through strong institutions. This claim however leaves much to be desired. Among the three frontline candidates, Atiku is a major personality with lots of corruption allegations trailing him.
From his time at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to the involvement of his company NICOTES which later became known as Intels Nigeria Limited which has featured prominently in money laundering investigations in the United States, to indictments by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the management of the Petroleum Technology Development Funds (PTDF). Atiku has loads of corruption entanglements and it remains to be seen just how well he fights corruption himself.
Young people will be brought into the political system
Atiku has a history of bringing young people into the political system. It is on record that he was instrumental in bringing on board the likes of Oby Ezekwesili, El Rufai, Ngozi Konjo Iweala (now DG, WTO), AfDB President, Akinwunmi Adesina during the Obasanjo administration.
On this, he is reported to have said: “I have a proven record of bringing young, unknown professionals into service. Many of the professionals and ministers I brought in were in their 30s and early 40s. Some of those young leaders have become governors in their states. I went to the World Bank and met a bright lady, convinced her to come back home, and she became a star in our government. To show you we had effective leadership, the same lady could not replicate her exploits under a different government.”
Restructuring of Nigeria
Atiku Abubakar has promised to restructure the country should he be elected president in February 2023. According to him, the nation badly needs peace and unity at this time, and restructuring is one way to achieve this.
Creation of jobs
Atiku Abubakar has often touted himself as a man grounded in economic principles and with the requisite knowledge on how to bring this about. According to the People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate, he is just the right man to get this done with his experience as an entrepreneur.
According to his policy document, Atiku plans to create three million jobs annually, and these are in sectors such as the informal sector, micro, small, and medium enterprises, and information and communications technology.