By Dirisu Yakubu
If there were doubts about Atiku Abubakar’s preparedness for the demanding office of Nigeria’s President, last week unveiling of his policy document has in a way, put that to rest.
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 186-page document tagged, “Let’s Get Nigeria Working Again, LGNWA, succeeded in drawing the attention of fellow citizens to a plethora of challenges bedevilling the Nigerian state while providing hard-nosed recommendations on how he would tackle same if voted into power in the 2019 elections.
It is a battle of ideas between Atiku and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari whose “Next Level” unveiled same week, has suffered some bashing with allegations of plagiarism, particularly from the PDP.
Atiku’s policy prioritises national unity through the promotion of the spirit of cooperation and consensus given Nigeria’s complexity and heterogeneity. According to the former Vice President, his leadership will birth a strong, resilient and prosperous economy that “creates jobs and opportunities.”
While pledging to establish a strong and efficient democratic government that guarantees internal security, Atiku in LGNWA also talked highly of such principles as fairness, equity and social justice.
Perhaps, the biggest takeaway from the document is restructuring, with the PDP flag bearer, insisting that Nigeria would not live to her true potentials with the existing structure.
“The structure of the country as it is, is not working properly, “ he argued, adding that “if we are to grow into a strong, competitive and prosperous economy, we must restructure the economy and the polity. We must adopt a new economic management model that will cure all the federating units of this addiction to oil revenues.”
Not unaware of the difficulties on the long path to restructuring, Atiku’s attempt at simplifying his approach is commendable.
He said: “Through constitutional means, we must strive to establish a new political structure that reinforces the concept of ‘true federalism’ by conceding unfettered autonomy to the surbodinating units and ensuring government accountability at all levels.”
The manufacturing sector will receive government attention while agriculture will get the boost and support it requires to make it attractive to the teeming youths of Nigeria, many of whom are without jobs today.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan told Saturday Vanguard that Atiku’s plan for Nigerians is holistic unlike what he termed “the mantra” of Buhari’s Next Level.
According to him, the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate has nothing to offer Nigerians, warning that a trip to ‘Next Level “ may as well be a trip to hell.
He said: “Next Level is just a mantra and not a policy document. It is more of a slogan that is without concrete steps on how to grow the economy and improve the living conditions of our people.
“Nigerians having seen through the lies of the APC and their candidate, are now prepared to trust the PDP once again.
“I can authoritatively inform you that the party has been getting massive support and solidarity from Nigerians and friends of the country since we unveiled our plans for the nation.”
On whether Atiku stands a chance to defeat President Buhari in 2019, the publicity scribe said all the PDP is asking for are credible, free and fair elections, adding that the ruling party has been rejected by Nigerians ahead of the polls.
“They are afraid of credible elections but Nigerians want transparent elections. This is what we are asking for because time has come to rescue the nation from the hands of those ill prepared for the task of governance, “ he added.
In the same vein, Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome lauded Atiku’s policy document for its “inclusiveness” describing President Buhari’s as a “poorly-crafted,” blueprint.
Ozekhome in a chat with our correspondent accused Buhari of failing to make the most of the mandate freely given him by Nigerians in 2015.
He said, “It’s clear that from President Buhari’s present level,the country is in a total mess in terms of real governance. Economically, security wise,corruption index, rule of law,fundamental rights,obedience to court orders,all have gone down the drain.
So, the “Next Level,” is a poorly crafted mantra that will be counter productive. It is suggestive of taking Nigeria from its present doldrums and state of comatose and nadir to a worse “next level” of near total asphyxiation, if not annihilation.
“That is why Atiku’s blueprint of “Let’s Get Nigeria Working Again” is more apt and resonates more with the vast majority of Nigerians who have borne, for three and half years,the burden of a most vicious, insensate and clueless government that has inflicted pains,pangs,blood and sorrow on Nigerians.”
Taking a different stand, former Education Minister, Professor Tunde Adeniran tasked Nigerians to wait for the all-important Social Democratic Party, SDP, blueprint as they prepare to cast their votes.
“Neither (Buhari and Atiku) is good enough. Wait for the release of Donald Duke’ s blueprint on behalf of the SDP and all will see where Nigeria should be heading,” he told Saturday Vanguard.
Will Nigerians go with Atiku whose longing for the highest elective office dates back to the botched third republic or renew faith in Buhari whose first stint as elected President comes to an end on May 29, 2019? Time will tell.