By ADEYEMI ADELEYE
LAGOS- The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to restructuring, to facilitate national unity and development.
Abubakar, who appeared at the Editors Forum, an initiative of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), in Lagos, said that before setting out for the presidential race, he sat down to analyse challenges facing the country.
He said that he came out with a five-point development agenda with policy options for the country.
The former vice president said that his broad policy options covered the unity of the country, security, restructuring, economy and education.
On restructuring, Abubakar said that he started advocating restructuring since he was in office.
“I am still going ahead on this because it is something that I believe will bring more unity to this country and give every part of this country the opportunity to develop at its pace and with its own resources.”
Abubakar added that he had assembled a team of constitutional lawyers on issues bordering on restructuring.
“When we have the proposal on legislation, we will put this before the National Assembly,” he said.
He, however, reiterated that amending the constitution required the inputs of the Executive, National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly.
Abubakar explained further that the restructuring would bring about a measure of resource control.
“Of course, when we say devolution of powers, obviously, devolution of powers must go hand in hand with a certain measure of resources control.
“It is the same with revenue sharing,” he said.
The former vice president said that he would address the issue of state police in its restructuring agenda.
On plans and how to unify the country, the candidate said that he intended to form a government of national unity that would bring in members of opposition parties.
He promised to ensure that all geopolitical zones get fair representation in government.
“We need to restore the unity of our country and give each and every part of this country a sense of belonging in our federation,” he said.
On security, the former vice president pledged to double the strength of the police and armed forces and provide more equipment and training,
“By the time we finish this, we would have taken more than one million people out of unemployment,” he said.
Abubakar said there was a need to secure the country first in the face of security challenges .
On blueprint for economic recovery, he said that he intended to continue with the economic policies embarked upon between 1999 and 2007.
He said that the policies allowed liberalisation of the economy to empower the private sector to drive development and job creation.
The former vice president said that the issue of education of every Nigerian child remained dear to his heart.
He said that this was because of his belief that it was only through education that the country could get to its dream land.
“Education is so important in all our human endeavours. All these things we are talking about cannot be achieved without education. All of us can see the imperative of education in our lifetime,” he said.
Abubakar noted that after coming up with the five policy options, he had assembled a team of experts on each of the sectors to advice him on how to achieve the objectives.
According to him, a draft document on his policy options is available.
On 35 per cent affirmative action for women in decision making process, Abubakar said that the PDP government would continue to bring in more women into governance.
On crisis rocking the PDP, Abubakar said: “I believe we are going to reconcile. It is a family issue, we are talking to ourselves and we will resolve our family issues.”
Speaking on his vast experience and capacity, Abubakar noted that he had been in Lagos since 1969 and married in the state, and that most roads, bridges and flyovers were built in his presence.
“I spent a better part of my career in the South. So, I know the South as much as I know the North.
“I consider myself morally a true Nigerian and a very true Nigerian in the real sense of the word,” he added.
Abubakar commended the members of the guild for their fight to restore democracy in the country.
“Many of you have sacrificed lives for us to come this far. Let me pay tribute to the contributions of the guild as far as our democratic restoration is concerned,” he said.
Earlier, the President of the NGE, Mr Mustapha Isah, said that the forum was interested in knowing the candidate’s plans for the country.
He said that the forum would host other candidates, urging all of them to address key issues that concern the people and avoid attacks on individuals and false claims as campaigns continue.
“On our part, we pledge to be neutral. Nigeria must get it right next year,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Abubakar’s entourage were PDP gladiators such as former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Gov. Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom.
Others include: Alhaji Mohammed Hayatudeen, Sen. Liyel Imoke, Alhaji Muktar Shagari, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Bashorun Dele Momodu, Sen. Dino Melaye, Chief Timi Alaibe, Dr Abdul-Azeez Adediran, the Lagos State Governorship Candidate.(NAN)