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Northerners not opposed to restructuring – Atiku

Says Nigeria needs a dual system of agriculture…..

Nigeria’s former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has debunked the notion that Northerner’s are against restructuring, saying that it is a belief and vision that would take the country higher.

Atiku, who revealed that he gave a lecture on restructuring in 2014, stressed that it was wrong for the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution to contain 30 items when only 10 would have been okay for a proper federalism and devolution of power.

Addressing participants at a 3-day lecture organised by Political Academy,  Shagamu, Ogun State under the leadership of a former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the former Vice President added that he has been able to convince Northern leaders about the need to restructure the country.

The Waziri of Adamawa, who is aspiring to take a fourth shot at the presidency of the country under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  in 2019, revealed that he has engaged the services of consultants on the contentious issue.

“I have engaged consultants to work on the issue of restructuring and ensure that no part of the country is cheated with restructuring.

“The north is not opposed to restructuring. For instance, our government passed a law,  when I was the Vice President of the country that all children must be educated to secondary school.

“With the restructuring,  states and local governments would be compelled to ensure this is done. It will not be the responsibility of the Federal Government then.

“I will sit with the state governments and members of the National Assembly on the need to work on our constitution to ensure proper distribution of wealth in the country,” he said.

According to the PDP presidential aspirant, Nigeria should not rely solely on crude oil to survive,  adding that the United States of America had more deposit of crude oil than Nigeria,  but that the country does not have a ministry of petroleum resources.

The Waziri Adamawa revealed that if any natural resource is discovered anywhere in the USA, the resource belongs to the owner of the land, who would pay tax to the government.

He said further that he was committed to restructuring and federalism to make Nigeria work better.

He said, “I am a product of the First Republic and I had free education,  and my local government-sponsored my primary and secondary education.

On agriculture, Atiku stated that what Nigeria needed was dual system, where the country would combine subsistence farming with commercial farming.

He said, “Our agriculture has been on subsistence level through small-scale farming. The highest potential we recorded in the country was during the First Republic when we had subsistence and commercial farming.

“Unless we do commercial farming,  we will not be successful in food production. Commercial farming would lead to surplus in food production that would help us in having enough and export agricultural products.”

The former vice president told the participants, which cut across different groups from all over the country, that his government would allow private organisations to come into infrastructural development.

The politician gave examples of roads,  power generation, rail system and others, which he said could be best driven by the private sector.

He faulted the successive government in the country for depending on gas to generate power as he said that gas was an expensive source of energy.

He recalled how he had worked with some foreign investors that were ready to use the resources that were available in the different zones of the country to generate power,  and that the then President Olusegun Obasanjo,  who initially supported the idea, later opposed it.

Speaking further, Atiku promised that his government would empower the women, while revealing that he once empowered the women through loans in a Microfinance Bank he established in Adamawa State.

He said that he told the bank to give 80 percent of its loans to women, which he said eliminated poverty in about 45,000 families.

The issue of the killings by Fulani herdsmen was also addressed by Atiku, who blamed the current government for not handling it properly.

He said that he is a Fulani man with over 1,000 cattle, but that the security agents and the Federal Government were not doing enough to put a stop to the killings by he herdsmen.

According to him, “The creation of local government system eliminated our local administration system. In those days, your name and the number of your cattle would be registered and you would pay taxes on them.

“We can go through the village heads and traditional rulers to handle the cattle tree rearers. I will also support the creation of state police to handle issues like this.”

Atiku promised to give 40 percent of government appointments under his government to the youths,  adding that he traveled abroad to bring youths, who worked with the Federal Government during his time as vice president.

Reacting to corruption allegations being levelled against him in some quarters,  the ex-vice president declared that this was a matter of perception.

He explained that he fought both the military and civilian governments, including when he was serving as vice president, and that he couldn’t have left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)  for the PDP of he was corrupt as he could have been easily probed.

The issue of unemployment was also addressed by Atiku, who emphasised that the private sector would be given the necessary support, saying that the sector is the best employers of labour rather than the state or federal government.

He told the audience that the then PDP-led Federal Government created the Small and Medium Scale Agency, and accused the successive governments,  including the current one, of not utilising the agency, which he said has led to a high level of unemployment in the country.

The three-day workshop with the theme, “Deepening Understanding Of The Nigerian Political Environment,” held between Tuesday, May 8 and Thursday, May 10, 2018.

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