FORMER Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday formally declared his interest to contest the 2011 Presidential election on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, just as he vowed not to quit the party even if he does not get the ticket to run.
Addressing a World Press Conference in Abuja yesterday, Atiku said he was offering himself as a candidate for election to the office of the President after due consultations with his family, friends and political associates.
He stressed that he was not vying for the position because he wanted to be rich or famous, but to realise his vision of a prosperous, secure, peaceful, democratic, caring and confident Nigeria.
According to him, “I am not seeking the presidency because I want to be rich and famous. Given how far I have come from my humble beginnings in Jada, Adamawa State, I feel enormously blessed. But life is not just about individual success; it is, more importantly, about our collective success.
“Life is also about those with the capacity and talent to help others and the society as a whole to roll up their sleeves and do so. I have had the privilege of travelling quite a bit outside this country and I always come close to shedding tears when I see what countries that were less endowed than Nigeria have been able to do in the effort to provide infrastructure, investment support and social services for their people. I know that we can do the same in Nigeria.
“I have been close enough to power to know the enormous potential that a President has to move this country in the right direction. We just have to give ourselves the chance to do that with someone who is well prepared for the challenges, someone with a plan to decisively tackle our collective and urgent problems.
“I am that person. We need a leader who is experienced, exposed and also keenly aware that the development of this country depends on the investments we make in our youth. I am that leader. We need a leader who understands that leadership requires both experience and youthful, creative energy, someone who is a bridge to the future and a bridge across our divides. I am that leader. We need a leader who can make good things happen. I am that leader.”
The former Vice President who noted that Presidency was not for ill-prepared persons as well as for experimentation, stressed: “Now is time for action.”
5 key areas of focus
He said he was going to pay attention to five key areas as President of Nigeria. These, according to him, are employment generation and wealth creation; power generation and infrastructural development; security, good governance and war against corruption; education, health and social services and the Niger Delta.
According to him, “we need a clear vision for our nation with a clear road map of how we hope to get there. Thus, I have had a long period of soul-searching and reflection on these and other issues affecting our dear country.
“After due consultations with my family, friends and political associates, I have come here to formally announce, with humility and a deep sense of responsibility, that I shall be offering myself as a candidate for election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2011 Presidential Election. I shall do so on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. I want to chart a new course for our beloved country and lead our people to their manifest destiny.”
“Iam seeking the presidency of our great country to realize my vision of a prosperous, secure, peaceful, democratic, caring and confident Nigeria. I intend to lead the efforts to create conducive conditions and incentives for productive investment in our country.
“These will create massive numbers of jobs which will keep our youth gainfully employed and help to tackle the high level of insecurity in the country. Our productivity can only increase significantly if we invest in education, research and modern technology, and infrastructure.
“As we become more prosperous through increased productivity we will be better able, as a nation, to provide more rewarding and enabling social services. We will become a more caring society as we give more support to those who need help in order to have a more decent life. This will include fast_tracking the development of the Niger Delta as well as addressing the cries of marginalization by different sections of the country.
“When we are able to get our acts together, we will become more confident as a people and a country. We will be confident to visit our villages or any part of the country without the fear of kidnappers and armed robbers. We will be confident to present our green passports at international entry ports without the fear of being singled out as potential criminals.
“We will be confident to pick up the phone and call foreign businesses to conclude deals without being seen as scammers. We will be confident to take on the world and influence events in ways that serve our national interest and the interests of justice, fairness and equity. I am ready to lead the movement for the realization of that vision. Together we shall make good things happen.
“I have picked five key areas for immediate intervention because of their critical impact on all other areas of development. These are: Employment Generation and Wealth Creation
Power Generation and Infrastructural Development, Security, Good Governance and War against Corruption, Education, Health and Social Services, and the Niger Delta.
Atiku who admitted that there was no way he would accomplish the task alone, however called on everyone to support him, adding, “I cannot do these alone. With your support, we will put in place attractive incentives for investors to invest in our economy and create well_paying jobs.
“Together we will fix our crumbling schools, our roads, and our health care delivery system. Together we shall fix the electricity problem by taking advantage of the varying energy resources and needs in different parts of the country.
“Together we shall address desertification, gully erosion and other lingering environmental challenges. Together we will tackle the infrastructural bottlenecks that have stalled investments. Together we shall provide our people with the tools to live productive lives independent of government handouts. “Together we shall wage a genuine war on corruption by instituting a better reward and punishment system, ensuring true independence of the anti_corruption agencies and the speedy trial of corruption cases.
“In 2007, I proposed a separate ministry of the Niger Delta in order to fast_track the development of the region, the way we have been doing for Abuja. As you can see, the idea of a separate ministry has not been fully implemented to be able to fast_track development of the region. Under my watch that will change.
“Together we shall clean up and restore the environment of the Niger Delta, speed up the development of the area, ensure that oil and gas extraction is carried out in a responsible and sustainable manner, and hold those responsible for environmental degradation accountable. Oil and gas prospecting does not have to be a death sentence for those who are fortunate to sit on vast amounts of energy resources.
“Together we shall create a country where it no longer matters which region of the country a public office holder comes from. Together we will make this country truly great. Together we shall make good things happen.
Atiku who described Nigeria as a failed state against the backdrop that as a nation, the country is still drifting like a rudderless ship, stressed that Nigeria has no reason to fail owing to the fact that it is one of the most richly endowed nations of the world.
“Despite the modest achievements of the past, our country is still drifting like a rudderless ship. It is difficult for anybody to say what vision is guiding the actions of those in charge of our affairs. Rather we seem to be stumbling from one crisis to the other.
“Our economy is still very weak and unable to deliver the goods and services needed to give our people a decent standard of living. Our infrastructure is in a shambles thereby making economic and social activities unprofitable and unattractive. Our public schools have continued to deteriorate, creating an embarrassing and unacceptable dichotomy between public and private education.
“Our health care system has been rated as one of the worst in the world. The manufacturing sector has been hobbled by a series of inconsistent policies and power failure,” he said.
On how to overcome the lingering power crisis in the country, Alhaji Abubakar said, if the Obasanjo’s administration had accepted his blueprint in 2002, the nation would by now, have overcome its power problems with the private sector investment in small and medium power plants across the nation .
“If my 2002 blueprint had been approved we would have overcome the problems of the power sector by now. The way out of the power problem in small and medium power stations which will take between two to three years to build.
“Even the Federal government does not have enough resources to tackle the current power challenges. Therefore, we have to create the environment for investors to come in to build small and medium plants. Many private investors, both local and foreign are yearning to go into this sector; all we need is the environment to be created for them”, he said.
When asked why he was declaring on the platform of the PDP when the party said there was no waiver for him, Atiku Abubakar said, “I know Iam a member of PDP, this talk about my membership is nothing, but rubbish. Waiver is an ongoing thing, today (yesterday), Iam declaring my intention to run: tomorrow (today), I will file my application to contest and let me see…”
On whether he will not quit the party if he does not get the ticket, he said, “I will not leave PDP if I don’t get the ticket”.
Notable Politicians who were present at the briefing and formal declaration were, former Senate President Iyorchia Ayu, Ex_ministers Mustapha Shettima, Funke Adedoyin, Titi Ajanaku, Dubem Onyia, Atiku’s 2007 Vice Presidential candidate, Senator Ben Obi, Alhaji Tanko Yankassai, Yahaya Kwande, Ozi Salami, former governor of Old Kaduna State, Lawal Kaita, Tonye Princewell, among others.