The former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has indicated that Nigeria was going through numerous challenges, such that were threatening unity, economy of the nation, and that most worrisome of all, was in area of security, that seems tougher than monster Nigerian government could handle.
Atiku said that until Nigerians collectively accept that difference between Nigerians was not North and South, Christian and Muslim or that of political parties’ preference, the nation would persist yearning for ways out of the challenges plunging the country in crisis on daily basis.
To him, Nigeria needs to be restructured and that the nation must embrace restructuring as a tool that must be done to fix Nigeria’s broken systems and not just a campaign gimmick.
In his analogy, difference must be between good and bad people and that the country as a whole must demonstrate that good forces were much more than bad ideologies.
Raising concern on state of security, Atiku noted that a group of girls were few days abducted from Government Girls Secondary School in Dapchi axis of Yobe State and were yet to be located, just as Chibok schoolgirls too were kidnapped years ago by Boko Haram militants, the abductors of the former.
Delivering a key note address at Silverbird ‘Man of Year’ yesterday in Lagos, the former vice president also noted that the challenges facing the country were symptoms and not ailment and that Nigeria was caught in a modern-day Malthusian Trap, with population growing faster than Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He added that the nation’s increasing population drives competition for resources that were not keeping pace with population growth and that after contracting for five consecutive quarters, Nigeria came out of recession in second quarter of 2017 with a GDP growth rate of 0.55 per cent, fared better with 1.40 per cent in third quarter of same period
He claimed that Nigeria has overtaken India as world’s capital of extreme poverty and that there were more extremely poor people in Nigeria than in the latter, a country that has six times Nigeria’s population.
“Our nation is going through a lot of challenges. There are challenges to our unity, economy. Most worrisome are the security challenges we are currently facing.
“When people do not have jobs and the means to start a business are beyond their reach, they are incrementally much more likely to engage in criminal behaviours like terrorism, kidnapping, militancy and armed robbery.
“Nigeria has a median age of 18.3 years. Our population is young. So when we have successful and laudable initiatives like YouWIN, we must continue them even when there has been a change in administration.
Admonishing gathering at the event on solution to the nations problems, Atiku stressed that fighting corruption would not be enough for the country to tackle issues, but moving beyond sentiments and media trials, as well as looking at fact.
He added that despite the country fight against corruption in past years, Transparency International scored Nigeria even lower than in 2014, the situation of which signified that the nation need more and advance tactics to combat the vice and that of others.
“We talk of fighting corruption, but let us move beyond sentiments and media trials and look at the facts.
“We must try to identify why, though we have been ostensibly fighting corruption for the past few years, Transparency International is scoring Nigeria even lower than in 2014
“We have to kill the snake of corruption that swallows the commonwealth that should lift our people up from poverty. Whether that snake is in a JAMB Office or any other government office, we must kill it or it will kill us”.
Atiku reminded that during his tenure as vice president, his government reduced recurrent expenditure by introducing monetization policy and privatizing government enterprises, the system he claimed had been abandoned and recurrent expenditures had ballooned.
“We cannot spend 70% of our budget on recurrent expenditure at a time Nigeria has more unemployed or underemployed people than the entire population of the Republic of Cameroon.
“We have to enact laws to prevent leaders from diverting public funds from the public health sector to the treatment of the elite in the best hospitals abroad.
“If you can afford it from your own private resources, then pay for it. But do not make the tax payer pay for it.
“Our elite are treated in Europe. BBNaija is being broadcast from South Africa and Nike is unveiling our FIFA World Cup Jersey in London. Is this the extent to which we have outsourced Nigeria?, he raised concerns.