By EricJames Ochigbo/ Emmanuel Mogbede
Abuja, Jan. 30, 2019
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Abubakar Atiku on Wednesday said he would address growing unemployment in the country if elected in the Feb. 16 poll.
He made this known at a town hall meeting tagged ‘The Candidates’ organised by the MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with NTA and DARIA Media in Abuja.
The town hall meeting is a two-hour televised series which features Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates of four leading political parties.
The parties were selected from the results of multiple polls aggregated by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
Atiku, a former Vice President said Nigeria needed a pro business and private sector driven leadership to create jobs for its 21 million unemployed youths.
According to him, one of our major plans is to create jobs in the agriculture sector which has the largest capacity for job creation in the country.
Atiku said as an individual, he lifted 45,000 families out of poverty in Adamawa state by establishing a Micro Finance Bank with technical support from Bangladesh.
On corruption allegations against him, Atiku said he is the most investigated public officer in the country who had never been found wanting.
He dismissed allegation that he used his position in the Nigerian Customs Service to perpetrate acts of corruption.
The custom allegation followed the controversial importation of 53 suit cases into the country in 1984 by a first class traditional ruler in the North.
Abubakar was the Customs Officer in Charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport when the suit cases were brought into the country.
He also refuted allegations that one of his wives had a case of money laundering to face in the United States of America, and could therefore, not travel abroad since the allegation.
It would be recalled that a United States Senate report had accused Atiku Abubakar of laundering over $40 million in suspicious funds into the United States between 2000 and 2008, using his fourth wife, Jennifer.
According to the report, which was written by the US Senate Sub-committee on Investigations, most of the funds were through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts.
Abubakar, in the town hall meeting, however, refuted the allegation, saying his wife had never been indicted or accused of such offence.
“My Wife has not been indicted and she has not been charged, so there is no way you can hold her accountable, she has been traveling to America very often,“ he said.
The PDP presidential candidate stressed that he had the experience to ensure the development of the county and make it the envy of other nations.
According to him, the present All Progressives Congress (APC) administration has not been able to deliver on its three cardinal campaign promises in 2015, which included security, economy and fighting corruption.
He said the administration had also performed below expectations, adding that he had the business experience which he acquired over time to ensure the development of the country.
Abubakar said that he is the bridge between the future and the present, stressing that he had all it would take to get the country working again.
He also noted that there was so much bottleneck in the country`s judicial system, adding that his administration would change the narrative if he became the country`s next president.
He further said that he would introduce a judicial reform that would address the bottlenecks in the judiciary, using legislative process as was obtainable in other countries.
Abubakar, who was the country`s Vice President under the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration also said that if elected as the country`s next president, he would sustain the fight against corruption.
Abubakar had a fractured relationship with Obasonjo, his former boss, but had to mend fences with him after he won the PDP ticket to fly the party`s flag in the coming presidential election slated for Feb. 16.
His running mate, Mr Peter Obi, who also featured at the town hall meeting, said Atiku and the Adamawa State Government remain the highest employers of labour in the state.
Obi said Atiku had proven himself as an employer of labour and was determined to bring in his experience into play at the national level to address unemployment.
According to Obi, Atiku has a plan and when he is elected, implementation will begin without wasting time.
Obi said that not moving the country towards a private sector driven economy, would amount to wasting people’s lives.
Obi, a former Governor of Anambra, stressed that Atiku had the capacity to address the country`s growing unemployment statistics.
“If you look at his cumulative experience, his age notwithstanding, you will agree with me that he has what it will take to address the country`s developmental challenges,“ he said.
Obi also refuted allegations that as governor of Anambra, he used his position to register a company with most of his family members as shareholders, saying he left large sums of money in the state’s account at the end of his tenure.
The platform provided an opportunity for the studio audience which included Civil Society Organisations, Diplomatic Corps and some members of the general public who had applied online to directly interact with the presidential candidate and his running mate.
The event was also streamed online at www.dtv.media to enable Nigerians in the diaspora and those not near television screens to participate.