State of the nation: Atiku invites statesmen, others to rescue Nigeria

…Presidency attacks former Vice-President

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Sunday said the Nigerian government lacked the capacity to address issues facing the country, calling on stakeholders and elder statesmen to help in rescuing the West African nation which he noted was on the precipice.

Atiku’s statement was in reaction to a recent report that tagged Nigeria as the nation with the highest unemployment rate in the world.

“We are at a precipice as a nation and the truth is that all stakeholders and elder statesmen have to speak up on time, while there is still a Nigeria to save,” the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election said in a series of tweets on his official handle.

“This government obviously lacks the capacity to address our current challenges, and we must help them, not because of the government, but because of our people.”

While linking the “unprecedented” level of insecurity in Nigeria to youth unemployment, Atiku said education is the key to addressing the menace.

“I say this because the fastest way to bring down a world record unemployment rate is via incentivized education. An educated citizenry are more employable and more self employable,” Atiku, Nigeria’s Vice President between 1999-2007, said.

“Increased education has been scientifically linked with lower rates of crime and insecurity, along with lower infant and maternal mortality, and a higher lifetime income.”

Even though he commended the Federal Government for the Special Public Works programme targeted at creating 774,000 jobs, the former vice president, said “it must be done with proper agenda, rather than propaganda.”

He also rued the rising number of out of school children in Nigeria.

The figure for out of school children (aged 5-14 years) in Nigeria is pegged at 10.5m, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a development which Atiku warned that if not addressed will further plunge the nation into chaos.

“If we do not do this, then the floodgates of unemployment will be further opened next year, and in the years to come,” he warned in the thread captioned ‘World’s Highest Unemployment Rate: Time To Help This Government Help Nigeria.’

A few weeks ago, the Federal Government proposed a $1.5b budget for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery, leading to outcries from several quarters over what many believe is an ill-thought move by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Although Atiku had before now described the development as suspicious, he reaffirmed his stance on the matter in his latest comment, lamenting that the country is experiencing a paucity of funds at the moment.

“And even with the paucity of funds, we continue to ramp up government involvement in sectors that ought to be left to the private sector, with the latest being the ill-advised $1.5 billion so-called rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery that has failed to turn a profit for years,” Atiku noted.

However, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, lambasted the former Vice-President for calling on President Buhari to improve.

Adesina claimed that about 30 million Nigerians were unemployed before Buhari  took office.

Adesina said the recent report released by the National Bureau of Statistics that 23.2 million Nigerians were unemployed was not new.

The President’s spokesman said this on Sunday on Channels Television’s ‘Sunday Politics.’

Checks however, showed that the unemployment rate was 8.9 per cent when Buhari took office in May 2015 while it has now grown to 33.3 per cent under Buhari.

Adesina added, “The former Vice-President was in power for eight years. Now, he is in the opposition. You can’t take whatever he says as the gospel. The question is when former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was in government with President Olusegun Obasanjo, where did they take the country?

“Where did they leave the country? I have seen clips on social media where he said some things they promised to do, particularly on power; some people collected some trillions and didn’t deliver… Former Vice-President is part of the rot this country became.

“He cannot exculpate himself; he cannot sit in judgment over anybody. He played his part for eight years and they left the country where they left it. He cannot like Pontius Pilate, begin to wash himself clean of what Nigeria has become.”

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