Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), for next year’s general elections has said he’s optimistic that former president, Olusegun Obasanjo will support his presidential bid.
Atiku made this known during an interview with Arise Tv on Friday.
Atiku was asked if he had Obasanjo’s support ahead of the election.
He said he was still speaking with Obasanjo, stressing that he was the best person to continue his legacies.
”I have been talking to Olusegun Obasanjo, I assume I have his support, I don’t think he has a better partner to support than myself because I have his legacies to continue,”Atiku said.
Peter Obi’s presidential bid
Atiku dismissed the presidential ambition of Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) candidate, saying it would be very difficult for Obi to win the presidential election without any strong political structure across the country.
Atiku, who was the PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2019 election, dismissed the popularity of his candidate on social media, saying 90% of Northerners were not on social media.
He noted that Obi made a mistake by leaving the PDP to pursue his ambition in the Labour Party.
He questioned the performance of the LP in the just concluded gubernatorial elections in Osun and Ekiti States, adding that because the party does not have governors, members of the National Assembly, State Assembly was an indication of their status.
“So, it is very difficult to expect a miracle to happen, simply because Peter Obi is in the Labour Party. After all, they were saying through social media, they had more than one million votes in Osun state.
“But how many votes turned for the Labour Party? And then again, mark you, you’re talking about social media. In the North, 90 percent of our people are not tuned to social media,” Atiku said.
Speaking on the zoning agitations that trailed the presidential primary of the party, Atiku said there was no agreement among leaders of the PDP where the presidential ticket would be zoned prior to the primary.
He added that even though the South-East had not ruled the country since the return to democratic rule in 1999, it was imperative for Nigerians to realise that in a democracy power is obtained through negotiation.
According to him, “PDP never sat down with anybody to micro zone any position; yes we said there should be a rotation of certain positions, between North and South as presidency and other key offices of the party.
“We started it and brought it into the constitution of our party, other parties are doing what we started. We have never micro-zoned any position to any part of the country; it has always been between North and South.
“Although, there have been agitations in the South-East, because since the return to democracy in 1999 they have not produced a president or vice president.
But in politics you negotiate power, through reconciliation, not through force and cohesion, that is why it is called politics.
When asked how he would tackle the spate of insecurity in Nigeria, Atiku said the lack of balance in appointments of head of security agencies in the country had fuelled agitations.
“You have to give every part of the country a sense of belonging. We have 17 security agencies in the country and everyone is headed by people from one section of the country,” he said.
“There is an insufficient number of police in the street. Egypt has a population of 80 million. They have over two million policemen on the street.
“But Nigeria with over two hundred million people, has less than three hundred thousand police men. There should be massive recruitment of Nigerians into the police and every part of the country has to be given a sense of belonging.”
Speaking further, he supported agitations for state police, saying it was necessary in a federal state.
“I am a supporter of the state police. In the United States they have four levels of police. State, County etc. we need to review that to provide levels of police in the country. When I was growing up there was state police, “he added.
The former vice president said his administration would support petrol subsidy removal, but provide incentives for workers, noting that it would be achieved through negotiation with labour, and stakeholder in other sectors of the economy.
“When I was vice president, we had designed subsidy removal in four phases. I was the chairman of the subsidy removal committee. I worked closely with Adams Oshiomohle who was then president of Nigeria Labour Congress.
“We removed subsidy phase one and phase two. By the time we finished phase two, we had left the office.
We expected the administration of Umaru Yar’Adua to continue with it but the policy got stuck.
“So, I think it is inevitable it has to happen. If you recall what we made in phase one and phase two, the NLC demanded transportation allowance increase.
“I believe through negotiation with labour, other stakeholders in other sectors of the economy that policy should resume,” Atiku said.
Economy, government monopoly on infrastructural provision
Speaking on his plans for the economy and infrastructures provision, Atiku said if elected his administration would initiate policies to encourage private sectors to invest in different sectors of the country and infrastructure provision, adding that tax incentives would be provided.
“Exchange rate is CBN policy, I would not interfere that much, but I expect a convergence between the CBN exchange rate and the parallel market. This is what I expect.
“Most of the reforms were initiated by me as chairman of the privatisation council, the telecom reforms, and the oil sector reforms, pension. All these reforms that we initiated, we accomplished while in office.
“We intend to continue by giving the private sector more say as far as building of rail lines to link various parts of the country.
“We can give them tax incentives to encourage them to recover their investment, or where are you going to get the money if you don’t encourage the private sectors to come in”.