Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said, yesterday, that he would achieve restructuring of the country in six months if elected president in next year’s elections, just as he promised to offer a matching grant of $250 million each to the 36 states of the federation to challenge them to enhance their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.
Abubakar, who stated this during a question and answer session at Chatham House, UK, also said he was not surprised by Buhari’s statement that Nigerian youths were lazy, since he had never managed a business.
He said: “It is doable. In fact, what I’ve told many Nigerians at home is that if you give me six months, I know I will be able to achieve a fast level of restructuring, otherwise the concurrent list issue.
“It’s very easy to deal with it because there is no state that you will call and say ‘I want to give you this responsibility together with the resources’, and will say ‘no’.
“I want the people of every state to be able to hold their leaders accountable because, at the moment, the federal government is being accused of everything, even when it’s not in its area of responsibility.
“I want to be able to resolve that so that citizens can hold their local leaders responsible for lapses and maladministration.”
Asked if he would consider running as an independent candidate should he fail to secure the ticket of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku said: “We’ll wait until that time”.
He said if he was elected president in 2019, he would “make Nigeria attractive for Nigerians in the diaspora to return home.”
On President’s Buhari’s description of some Nigerian youths as lazy bunch, Abubakar said the President would not describe Nigerian youth as lazy if he were an employer of labour.
He said: “On the issue of youth, I am an employer of labour and most of that labour is youth-dominated and I make a lot of profits from my businesses.
“I don’t agree with the assumption that the youths are lazy or they are indolent. Certainly, I don’t. But I’m not surprised with the fellow who made that remark because he’s not an employer of labour, he has no business, he has no educational institution so he doesn’t relate with youths in schools so I don’t blame him.
Abubakar criticised the multiple exchange rate in the country, saying it does not encourage foreign investors to put their money in Nigeria.
Delivering his lecture entitled, “The Importance of Strengthening State Economic Management Systems,” Abubakar also spoke of plans to improve the operational efficiency of revenue generating agencies.
He said: “If I have my way, the Federal Government will match state’s IGR up to $250 million per state. Even with this policy, the Federal Government will continue to offer support (in the form of intervention programmes) for states that rank below the average development index, until such a time as they are able to become self-sufficient and sustaining.”
“Beyond institutional and administrative reforms to improve operational efficiency of the revenue agencies, the federating units will be challenged to double their efforts in rebuilding the fiscal-social contract, by enhancing service delivery in key areas such as health, education, water supply and infrastructural development.
“Only this would change the predominant perception that government revenues are diverted to the private bank accounts of politicians and their cronies.”