A political support group for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate for the 2023 elections was a blessing to the country when he was the Vice President to former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007.

In a statement signed by the national publicity secretary of Atiku Support Organisation (ASO), Dr. Victor Moses and made available to newsmen , the group described Atiku as “the best vice president Nigeria has ever had since 1960 independence.”

The group was reacting to a statement by former President Obasanjo, on Saturday, who said he made a mistake in the choice of his presidential running mate ahead of the 1999 presidential election.

The statement reads: “The choice of Atiku Abubakar as Vice President in 1999 was a blessing to Nigeria – Atiku Support Organisation replies Chief Obasanjo

“We watched with dismay a video purportedly showing the former president of Nigeria, His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo stating that one of his mistakes in life was his choice of number two man during the 1999 presidential elections.

“We wish to state without mincing words that former president Olusegun Obasanjo was the best president we’ve ever had as a nation since 1999. Similarly and without equivocation, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri Adamawa was, without a medicum of doubt, the best vice president Nigeria has ever had since 1960 independence.

“His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo may recall that Nigeria under Atiku Abubakar as the head of the economic council experienced its best economic growth in history.

“As of 1998, Nigeria’s economy was in the red zone growing at -2.5%. With His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar on the economic council’s driving seat, the economy experienced successive growth for 8 years in a row and peaked at 15.33% growth in 2002. The best in Nigeria since 1969. GDP per capita annual growth rose from $498 to an impressive peak level of $1,883 in 2007. Inflation was reduced from 10.0% in 1998 to 5.39% in 2007. Nigeria’s trade balance significantly increased from negative $-1.63bn to an impressive $38.88bn in 2006. Foreign direct investment increased from $0.30bn in 1998 to an impressive $6.04bn in 2007.

“In 1998, the unemployment rate stood at 3.83%. By 2007, the rate fell to 3.62%. The banking industry was almost a near-dead industry with many banks dying in freestyle mode trapping the life savings of many Nigerians.

But His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, GCON with the support of his team members ensured a great banking reform leading to bank capitalization. Today, most banks are stable and the industry is worth over ₦102.6 trillion Naira as of 2020 as against ₦757 billion in 1998.

Nigeria’s external neck-breaking debt as of 1998 stood at over $30bn. As the head of the economic team, Atiku Abubakar contributed immensely to ensuring debt forgiveness for Nigeria and the repayment of the balance. He contributed in no small measure to assembling the best economic management team ever assembled in the history of Nigeria.

“The privatization exercise that saw the incredible revolution in the telecommunication sector was astonishing. Today, the telecom sector has created millions of direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians and it’s adding over ₦11 trillion to the economy every year.

“Generally, the Nigerian economy grew by 192% between 1999 to 2020. Under the economic council team headed by His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, the economy grew by 81% as against 25.9% under late president Umar Musa Yar’adua, 26.4% under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and 1.4% under President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Therefore, we ask. How could someone with such a pedigree and best profile in economic management and development of a nation be a mistaken choice of a vice president?

“Nigerians are quite aware of a failed 3rd term bid of His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, which created ripples that refused to heal almost 24 years after, but His Excellency Atiku Abubakar’s decision to stand against the 3rd term bid of Chief Obasanjo was not personal but to protect our young democracy.

“We called on His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to see his decision to work with Atiku Abubakar as his number two man as the best decision ever made in the overall interest of Nigeria and NOT a mistake.

“His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar is vindicated because archival facts and figures are out there to prove that he was indeed the best vice president we have ever had since independence in 1960.”

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