By EMMANUEL OLONIRUHA
ABUJA- The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has denied media reports that he will handover federal universities to state governments if elected president in 2023.
Media Adviser to the former Vice President, Mr Paul Ibe, in a statement issued on Monday night in Abuja, described the report as false.
Ibe said that they had noticed with dismay the mischievous misinterpretation of what Abubakar said at the plenary of the 62nd annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as it related to education and how to address the crisis in the sector.
“The report is false, untrue, unfounded and not a true reflection of what Atiku Abubakar said while responding to a question on devolution of powers, a key component of his policy framework.
“What the PDP presidential candidate referred to was his plans for a phased devolution of power to the federating units.
“The report in some sections of the media is, therefore, a misleading and false account of what transpired when the PDP presidential candidate fielded questions as a panelist at the opening ceremony of the NBA conference,” Ibe said.
He said that in answering the question posed to him, Abubakar merely recalled his engagement with a university professor.
“Abubakar argued that the United States of America shared similarities with the first set of universities in Nigeria which belonged to the regional governments.
He added that with proper planning and phased devolution of power, federal universities which have now become unwieldy can be made to work better under the component federating units.
“Abubakar also maintained that education would remain in the concurrent list under his administration when elected,” Ibe said.
Ibe said that the report was clearly a misleading one designed to cast aspersion on the person of the former vice president.
He said that the report was also to create an impression that he would shirk his responsibilities if he is elected president in the next presidential poll due in February 2023.
“We wish to restate Abubakar’s avowed commitment to education as a game changer for socio-economic development and national security.
“He remains concerned about the prolonged strike by university teachers.
“He restates his position that under his watch the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) – Federal Government imbroglio will be better managed in the interest of both the students and academic staff,” Ibe said.
The media aide said that to underscore Abubakar’s commitment to addressing the structural deformities in Nigeria system, Abubakar also disclosed that he had empanelled a committee of judiciary experts to draft a presidential position paper.
The paper, according to Ibe, will guide Abubakar’s administration, if elected, from day one on the terms and conditions of transfer of power and resources to the other layers of government.
He said that was aimed at making the Federal Government leaner and more effective in its core functions.
“We implore media organisations to be wary of unfounded stories in the course of carrying out their constitutionally guaranteed responsibility of informing, educating and entertaining the people,” the statement said. (NAN)