Buhari Is My 2019 Presidential Option- Hilliard Eta

The National Vice Chairman (South-South) of the All Progressives Congress, Hilliard Eta, said that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is no longer an option for the 2019 presidential race as he considers President Buhari his option .

He explained that he was one of those who canvassed votes for Atiku during the APC presidential primaries in 2015 but that their loyalty shifted to Muhammadu Buhari after he became the party’s presidential candidate.

Eta explained that he and all the other party faithful cast their lot with the party and its candidate which eventually led to Buhari’s emergence as President.

According to him, even the ardent critics of Buhari have been surprised by his performance.

Eta said the President was already doing what Atiku had always aspired to do if given the chance.

The APC chieftain said, “Another cycle is about to come and Atiku is no more an option for me because I think that the option for me now is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Buhari, who has done remarkably well in keeping the promises that he made to Nigerians.”

He urged the former Vice President to join the President in building the Nigeria of his dreams.

When asked if he was pushing for an automatic ticket for Buhari, Eta said, “Well, because of the sterling qualities of the President, because of the job he has done, the totality of the membership of the party may want him to go back without contest.

“What I mean is that those who may want to contest against him may join hands with him to build the country and have him only as both the aspirant and eventually the candidate of the party. It has happened in a lot of political circumstances around the world.”

In response to Eta, the Media Adviser to the former Vice President, Paul Ibe, said every Nigerian was entitled to their opinion.

He explained that the party chieftain was expressing a personal opinion, but that he could only speak for himself in such matters.

Atiku Denies Declaring for Presidency

Contrary to claims making the rounds and a video that recently surfaced online on Abubakar Atiku declaring his intentions to run for presidency in 2019, the one time Vice President has stated that such video is a product of the ‘merchants of fake news’.

According to him, the video was based on clips from his 2011 political race.

Speaking on Friday, the former vice-president said the video was a “bad job of bad people with bad intentions.”

He said such propaganda was being deliberately promoted by political opponents in order to create acrimony, who are “incompetent and bumbling political novices who cannot see the loopholes in their own stories.”

Atiku advised those involved in such “laughable and unintelligent propaganda of lies and intentional mischief to find something useful to do with their time instead of using his name to achieve their malicious political objectives.”

He explained, “While fake news merchants don’t bother about ethics and their reputation”, the media has more to lose if they take stories from such disreputable groups without verification.

Atiku Makes Case For Educational System Review To Elevate Poverty

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has advocated for an urgent review of the nation’s educational system, saying only a functional educational system will pull the nation out of the abject poverty which he said has held the majority of Nigerians hostage.

Receiving a delegation from the US-based NURU International, the former Vice President said that a retooled education system that would emphasise functional and problem-solving strategy remained the way to go if the war against poverty is to be won.

The former Vice President said that with functional education, the high incidence of school drop outs will be reduced while products of secondary education on graduation would have acquired skills that would serve as their source of income for life.

According to him, Nigeria and Nigerians benefitted from such an educational system in the past but that things changed after the civil war when the country adopted an education system that mainly took interest in producing candidates for the universities and not for other levels of higher education.

He explained that in the past incidence of school dropouts was so low because there were government colleges, secondary schools, technical schools and craft centres which provided spaces for primary school leavers to continue their educational pursuits based on their respective intellectual/mental ability and capabilities.

“I remember that in the 1960s in Northern Nigeria all students sit for one examination and their performance determines where they will be placed for further education. Everyone is accommodated within the four levels of higher education that was available then and this reduced the incidence of school dropout to its barest minimum,” he said.

The former Vice President said that it is not every secondary student that is “a university material” adding that there is need to ensure secondary school leavers are armed with skills through which they could earn a living and raise families.

He maintained that if the school leavers do not acquire knowledge and skill to engage their energies on graduation, they become willing and available tools for anti-social activities which could manifest in youth restiveness as being witnessed in the country.

Apart from investing in education, the former Vice President said that the micro finance scheme promoted by him has empowered 45,000 families in Adamawa state by providing them with micro-finance facilities with which they started a small business.

He said that the initiative, which targeted women as beneficiaries of the loan scheme, has lifted many families out of poverty, adding that the beauty of the micro-finance arrangement which operates in all Local Government Areas in Adamawa, except two, is that it has recorded 98 per cent recovery rate just as the women have become the “bread winners” of their respective families.

The leader of the delegation and founder/CEO of NURU International, Mr Jake Harriman said that his organization, which currently operates in Michika and Madagali areas of Adamawa state aims at reducing “abject poverty” in those communities within the seven years the organisation, will operate.

He said that the essence of the visit was to solicit the support of the former Vice President so that NURU will succeed in its poverty intervention programme in the state.

Quit Notice: Atiku Warns Nigerians Against War Song

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President of Nigeria on Monday condemned a song he said wished the people of Igbo ethnic group dead, warning that the country should not be allowed to slide into genocide like Rwanda.

Atiku said the song currently circulating in some parts of Nigeria could trigger a major crisis as happened in Rwanda.

Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were killed in an inter-ethnic conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis, two major groups in the East African country in 1984, following the death of that country’s president in a plane crash.

A press statement signed by his media office, which he personally signed and titled, “Nigeria Does Not Need a Rwandan Deja vu”, Mr. Atiku urged all Nigerians to condemn what he said was “reminiscent of the beginning of the Rwandan Genocide.”

The former president called on the security agencies to fish out and bring to trial those responsible for the song. He did not give further details of the song he was referring to.

“It has come to my attention that a song disparaging people of Igbo origin, and which wishes them dead, is circulating in some parts of the nation. I totally and unequivocally condemn this development, and I call on all men of goodwill to rise up against this evil,” Mr. Atiku said.

“This song is reminiscent of the beginnings of the Rwanda Genocide. Nigerians need to be aware that the Rwanda Genocide was believed to have been ignited by a song titled Nanga Abahutu (I hate Hutus), sung by Rwanda’s then most popular musician, Simon Bikindi. God forbid that we should have such a déjà vu in Nigeria.

“I call on the security agencies to thoroughly and decisively swing into action and apprehend, try, convict and severely punish those behind this ungodly song which incites racial hatred.

“Simon Bikindi was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for igniting and aiding the Rwandan genocide. Thus, let those who think they can treat their fellow citizens so unjustly know that within and outside Nigeria exist mechanisms that will ensure they answer to their crimes.

“I call on all men of goodwill to remember those immortal lines from our former National Anthem “though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”.

“The effects of hate in any shape or form were made even more evident over the weekend, in a mass shooting incident that left many of us reeling with shock.

“I commiserate with the people of Ozubulu in Anambra State, who lost family members in the fatal shooting that also left almost a score injured. I pray that peace will return to their minds and their community soon, even as the police work hard to get to the bottom of the matter. May God comfort them as no man can.

“The difference between us as Nigerians is not a difference in our tribe or our religion. It was and remains a difference based on whether we are good Nigerians or bad Nigerians, and I am very certain that the good Nigerians far outnumber the very few bad ones.”

Restructuring, Not A Magic Bullet

By Abubakar Atiku

Let me begin with a rhetorical question: why do I, Atiku Abubakar, favour a restructured Nigeria?

The answer is simple: because I am proudly Nigerian and favour a united Nigeria that offers every man, woman and child a brighter future where each and everyone has a chance to build and share in this great nation’s potential.

The restructuring I want to see happen is changing the structure of our country to take power from the elite and give it back to whom it belongs: the people. It will help to bring the benefits of the change that our people were promised in the last general elections.

For a number of years now we have been making the case for the restructuring of our federal system. This is in response to the cries of marginalisation by various segments of country as well as the understanding that our federation, as presently constituted, impedes optimal development and the realisation of our peoples’ aspirations. As you all know, virtually every segment of this country has at one point or the other complained of marginalisation by one or more segments, and agitated for change.

Before I proceed, let me caution us all that restructuring, by whatever name, is not a magic bullet that would resolve all of Nigeria’s challenges or those of any section, region or zone of the country. Listening to some people, even those who seek to dismember the country, you would think that once their dream is achieved their part of the country or the country as a whole will become paradise.

Yet, as we all know, life is not that simple. We need restructuring in order to address the challenges that hold us back and which restructuring alone can help us address, and which will remain unaddressed unless we restructure. Period. This also answers the cynics who question whether restructuring is even important since it won’t solve all our problems. No system would.

To me, restructuring means making changes to our current federal structure so it comes closer to what our founding leaders established, in response to the very issues and challenges that led them to opt for a less centralised system.

Perhaps it is because I spent a decade in the private sector before coming back to the public sector as Vice President that I have the benefit of a paradigm that sees opportunity where others see crisis, but that is my world view.

The issue of restructuring is beyond resource control. There are other and even more important issues in this whole debate which I will address in this speech, but as resource control seems to be the one issue that many blocs are fixated on, let me take some time to address it first.

My vision of restructuring, will not make some States richer and others poorer. Restructuring is a win-win for all Nigerian states. So let me make it clear beyond any possible doubt: the Restructuring I am proposing will not reduce the share of our nation’s oil revenues that any state currently enjoys. However if we are to grow our revenues we need to change the way we think of our resources and nurture them for the benefit of all.

So, let us start by not thinking as if our resources consist only of oil. Oil is not infinite. In fact, within the industry, the oil majors and multi-nationals are looking for ways to further invest in alternative energy because in the next 10-20 years the proportion of the energy market share that fossil fuels hold will shrink and almost vanish even as those of alternative energy are set to rise dramatically.

Automobile manufacturers such as Volvo and Peugeot have announced plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars. This is not a conspiracy. It is a fact. The man just elected as France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, has told the world that petrol and diesel cars will be illegal to make or sell in France by 2040. Norway has said it will do the same but earlier: by 2025.

On a recent visit to the United Kingdom I noticed that senior members of the Conservative Party were driving the Toyota Mirai, a car that runs on hydrogen and emits water instead of harmful carbon monoxide.  Professor Tony Seba, a world renowned global economist, has published his findings that all new cars will be electric by 2025.

So the world is not waiting for us to see reason and reengineer our economy. If we do, they will work with us. If we do not, the world will leave us behind.

For the last decade, Nigeria has made an average of $30 billion per annum from oil. This may look like a lot of money, but when you factor in our population of close to 200 million people growing at one of the highest rates in the world at 2.6% per annum, that money starts to look relatively small. We must begin to look for other and more sustainable sources of income that are also realistic.

Africa, especially sub Saharan Africa, imports 82% of her food from outside the continent. Every year, Africa spends $35.4 billion on food imports from Europe, Asia and America.

I have been to virtually all the world’s continents and to many of her nations, and scientists everywhere agree with what the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) says, that Africa and particularly Nigeria has some of the most fertile soils on planet earth. Why can’t most of that $35.4 billion, which is bigger than our annual revenues from oil, come to Nigeria instead? It is not coming now  because our focus is on how to share the $30 billion we get from oil every year and when your focus is on sharing, you cannot be creative.

The whole purpose of restructuring is to eliminate those policies that feed the mindset that drives the sharing behavior so that we can have a paradigm shift towards a mindset that drives creative and productive behavior.

We do not have to look too far. We are already seeing it in Nigeria.

I just told you that I was recently in the U.K. One of the things I learned on that visit is that Britain is very pleased with the increase in vegetable imports from Nigeria, especially pumpkin leaves. You in the Southeast call it . One state, Anambra, has decided to take her share of the $35.4 billion Africa spends importing food and is now exporting   to other nations including the U.K.

Some oil producing states are owing workers’ salary, Anambra is not owing. A number of oil producing states took the Federal Government bailout, Anambra did not take it. Anambra State is proof that restructuring is good for our states and will not bankrupt them.

If Anambra, a state that suffers from soil erosion and has a very high population density, can export £5 million worth of pumpkin leaves to foreign nations, 1 million tubers of yam to Europe and millions of dollars-worth of scent leaves, locally known as nch?anw?, then much larger states like Kano, Borno, Kaduna, Kwara, Ogun and Rivers should be able to do even more.

Our national wealth is being drained by a select few instead of building a country for all of us. It has to end. We need to return resources and power back to the local level, and from the elite to the people.

Only by restructuring can we guarantee unity, equity and security for our nation… When people hear the term restructuring, all sorts of emotions are evoked. Why is this so? Some feel a sense of impending triumph; others feel a sense of impending loss and defeat.  But it doesn’t have to be so. If our people see that restructuring will benefit all of us, some of the contentions will abate.  We can move quickly to demonstrate some of those benefits with those aspects of restructuring that do not require constitutional amendment.

Take education and roads for instance. The federal government can immediately start the process of transferring federal roads to the state governments along with the resources it expends on them. In the future if the federal government identifies the need for a new road that would serve the national interest, it can support the affected states to construct such roads. Thereafter the maintenance would be left to the states, which can collect tolls from road users for that purpose. The federal government does not need a constitutional amendment to start that process.

We do not need a constitutional amendment to transfer federal universities and colleges as well as hospitals to the states where they are located. The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Ife (now OAU) were built by regional governments when we had a thriving federal system.

The excessive concentration of power and centralisation of resources in the federal government led the government to extend itself into virtually every aspect of our lives including as an investor in an array of businesses. And almost as a rule they were badly run.

The Nigerian federation is a work in progress. We just have to continue that work, a truly serious work, to build bridges across our various divides. That’s what we need in order to create the kind of country where our young people can thrive and realise their full potentials, young people such as Ms Immaculata Onuigbo, the best graduating student and Valedictorian for the Class of 2017 at the American University Nigeria, Yola. We owe it to them and the generations to come.

Excerpts of a speech by Abubakar, former Vice President, at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka on Wednesday.

Why Nigeria Is Not Making Progress — Atiku

Atiku Abubakar the former Vice President of Nigeria gave a talk and spoke about how Nigeria will keep bein in the same place they have always been and how they wouldn’t be making Progress for some particular reason, he then made mention that Nigeria will  continue to  grapple with the crisis of severe and debilitating socio-economic problems unless it gets the structures of the federalism and governance right.

Atiku made it clear in a paper he titled: “The Challenge of Unity, Diversity and National Development: Nigeria at a Crossroads’’, which he delivered at the formal public presentation of the Daily Stream newspaper, at the Banquet Hall, Nigeria Air force Conference Centre, Kado, Abuja.

According to him, the current system, which is characterised by a focus on sharing rather than production, is clearly not conducive to development.

He noted that virtually all the development indices had not been favourable to Nigeria: 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.

“For Nigeria to develop – or even make any appreciable progress – we must restructure 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.’’

He said restructuring would facilitate the emergence of a leaner bureaucracy, enhance efficiency, block wastages and promote more prudent management.

He said this would make for happier constituent units more committed to the progress and unity of the country and the emergence of a sense of nationhood.

“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,’’ he added.

Atiku, who narrated his experiences from his recent trip to Malaysia, said he had concluded arrangements to assemble a class of economic experts to brainstorm on the best ways to boost the economies of the three tiers of government in Nigeria.

The former vice-president, who affirms that Nigeria is truly in crossroads, said “the problem with our federalism is that over the years it has become so skewed in favour of the centre that it impedes our economic development, distorts our politics, weakens our people’s commitment to the country and threatens our existence as a united country’’.

He, therefore, stressed the need to discuss and agree on the kind of federal structure desirable for the country.

“Reverting to the regions of the past seem untenable because those minority groups which feel that they have been liberated from their bigger, dominant neighbours, are unlikely to accept a return to that older order.

“We may consider using the existing the geo-political zones as federating units because they will be more viable economically and address some of the minorities’ concerns?

“If we prefer to keep the current state structure, could we consider introducing a means-test such that a state that is unable to raise a specified percentage of its revenues from internal sources would have to be collapsed into another state?’’

Abubakar, who described himself as more of a businessman than a politician, said he would never implement a uniform National Minimum Wage structure across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said under his leadership, state governments in Nigeria would be allowed to pay their workers’ salaries based on their respective financial standing.

Nigeria Does Not Need Ministers For Agriculture, Health, Atiku Says

A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has restated his call for true federalism as a panacea to Nigeria’s problems.

While speaking at the Obafemi Awolowo University at a program organised by the Faculty of Law on Thursday, Mr. Abubakar said in a true federal system, the federal government would have little or no need for some ministers as their issues would be handled by the federating units.

“We have a government that gives power to the central government and leaves the federating units with nothing,” he said.‎

“The current structure can be called unitary federalism.”

The politician, who is rumoured to be interested in the 2019 presidential race, said the current Nigerian structure makes the country economically indolent and doesn’t serve the citizens well.

“The restructuring of our federalism is not really a threat on our unity,” he said.

“The federal government has no point having a ministry of agriculture and health; they ought to only have units that will monitor the ministries. But instead they go on to appoint ministers.”

“What is the federal government’s business with having a health minister and minister of agriculture?” he asked.

Mr. Abubakar also accused his former boss, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo of not heeding to one of his advice on power projects.

“I once advised the president not to invest in independent power projects but focus on captive power projects, but I was not listened to; the world is shifting from oil to other sectors and we are not doing that in Nigeria,” he said.

Commenting, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Anthony Elujoba, said Mr. Abubakar’s visit, though unexpected, was well appreciated by staff and students.

Credit:Premium Times

Atiku Renews Call For Nigeria’s Restructuring

Nigeria as currently constituted is an entity that is rooted in corruption, impunity and injustice and thus must be reconstituted, a former vice-president said on Monday.
Atiku Abubakar, who served under former President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999-2007, said at a forum in Abuja that the current system is the bane of Nigeria and not the individuals running it.
“Political and civic leaders from across the country must come together, discuss, negotiate and make the necessary compromises and sacrifices needed to restructure our federation to make us a stronger, more united, productive, and competitive country,” Mr. Atiku said while expanding on a paper titled: “Nigerian Federalism: Continuing Quest for Stability and Nation-Building.”
Mr. Atiku has been at the forefront of renewed calls for a reconstituted Nigeria since the beginning of the year.
In June, he used his remarks at a book launch, also in Abuja, to call for a more federal system which would put to rest the disparate yearnings of Nigerians from all sections of the country.
Mr. Atiku said there’s a perennial cry of marginalisation from every section of the country, a situation, he said, was caused by the flaw in the country’s constitution.
“No section of this country can claim correctly that its people are better served by the current structure of our federation. When we were not dependent on oil revenues and when the federating units had greater autonomy of action and were largely responsible for their affairs, they, that is our regional governments, did not owe workers their salaries for several months.
“They did not shut down schools and universities for several months because of teacher strikes and inadequate funding. Take a look at the industries that the regional governments established and ran and the quality of schools that they established, and see if you can see a state government or a group of state governments that have bested them since the emergence of our unitary federalism.

“And also ask yourself which of those establishments taken over or established by the federal government since, has performed as well as they did under our pre-1966 federal system.”
The former vice president said Abuja should be prepared and willing to relinquish some of its powers over the remaining 36 federating units.
This call, Mr. Atiku said, does not mean a call for a break up of Nigeria, but only a call for the imposition of a system where transparency, efficiency and equity will prevail.
“National unity does not mean the absence of disagreement or agitations. In fact disagreements and peaceful agitations indicate vibrant and living relationships,” Mr. Atiku said. “The key to making national progress is to manage those disagreements in peaceful and mature ways.”

Atiku Says Fight Against Boko Haram Not Won Yet

A former Vice President and stalwart of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday disagreed with the position of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government that Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated.

The Turakin Adamawa, who spoke in Yola, the Adamawa capital, at the 11th Founder’s Day Ceremony of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, averred that the terrorist group remained deadly.

“The insurgents still occupy a specific geographical space. They (Boko Haram) still retain the capacity for occasional deadly attacks. Many citizens in the zone still remain vulnerable and live in fear,” he said.

This comment seem to counter repeated claims by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Information minister, Lai Mohammed, that Boko Haram had been Technically defeated, and was no longer holding any territory in the country.

In his 2016 Democracy Day speech, Buhari had insisted that the sect has been defeated, saying: “We marshaled our neighbours in a joint task force to tackle and defeat Boko Haram. By the end of December 2015, all but pockets and remnants had been routed by our gallant armed forces”.

Before then, Lai Mohammed had stated that the Boko Haram terrorists remain largely decimated, dispersed and disoriented, adding that “in reality, insurgency has been weakened as a cohesive terror force”.

But Atiku, in his Saturday speech, said it was premature for anyone to claim victory over Boko Haram at the moment, adding that, “We cannot say that the problem is over until every displaced person is able to return home, to the office, to the market, to the farm, and resume normal activities.

“We cannot say it is over until we rebuild the schools, the churches, the hospitals, the markets, and the homes that had been destroyed. And we cannot say it’s over until the survivors of this insurgency receive the help they need, including psychological therapy to deal with the trauma that they have been through.

“I visited an IDP camp on Saturday and had the privilege of teaching a math class to some children. But the site of hundreds of children running around and unable to attend school was very gut wrenching. It still breaks my heart. So we cannot say the insurgency is over until all the displaced children return to their schools.

“And, as I indicated last year, it would not be enough for people to simply return to their pre-insurgency lives. We must do better than that otherwise we would only have papered over the wound without really treating it.

“People must return to something better, to hope, to improved schools, to improved economic opportunities, to freedom of worship and improved inter-religious harmony.”

Why Nigeria Finds It Hard To Progress – Atiku

Former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has stated that the continued concentration of power and resources in a central government would continue to suppress the advancement of the nation.

Atiku, who has been a strong advocate for the restructuring of Nigeria, said this yesterday at the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) Congress held in Enugu.

Atiku, who is the Chairman of the African Veterinary Association (AVA), said “if we diversify the economy but still let the state dominate economic activities as a major investor and competitor against the private sector, we will be unable to unleash our peoples’ productive and entrepreneurial energies.

“One cannot expect a state that confiscates economic resources such as rent to genuinely and enthusiastically promote diverse economic activities.

“Can we realistically expect such a state to embark on the political difficult task of levying and collecting taxes from its citizens and allowing itself to be held accountable?”

The Turakin Adamawa urged the congress to “consider these issues and the role of democratic government in the quest for the diversification of Africa’s economies.

“Does it help or hurt for people to have a say in how they are governed including economic governance, policy development and the accountability of leaders?”

Atiku, therefore, charged AVA and NVMA, to play a critical role in improving African agriculture and the prospects of earning vital foreign exchange from exporting meat and dairy products to the rest of the world.