Full text of what Atiku said about Buhari govt, killings in Nigeria, restructuring


Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has again asked the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to work harder to improve the lives of Nigerians.

Atiku, in his keynote speech delivered at the Silverbird Man Of The Year 2017, also spoke on killings across the country.

He lamented the situation stated that security of lives and property must be more guaranteed.

On restructuring, he said if he becomes the nation’s leader, “no state receive less money from the federation account than it currently does.”

Full text of his speech below…

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to be given this privilege to give the keynote speech at the Silverbird Man of the Year 2017 ceremony.

I know the organizers have collated the votes and this will lead to the emergence of the official Silverbird man of the year. However, my man of the year are also the gallant men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces who paid the supreme price to protect us from terrorists and those who desire to divide us.

Our nation is going through a lot of challenges. There are challenges to our unity, economic challenges and most worrisome of all are the security challenges we are currently facing.

These challenges are actually symptoms. They are not the ailment. And as any doctor will tell you, you cannot get genuine long-lasting relief if you treat symptoms. You have to target and treat the root cause of the disease.

What is happening in Nigeria is that as a nation, we are caught up in a modern-day Malthusian Trap. For years, our population has been growing faster than our Gross Domestic Product, bringing us to a point where we have an ever-increasing population competing for resources that are not keeping pace with population growth.

It may sound simplistic, but if Nigeria can assemble a leadership focused on getting us out of this Malthusian Trap by gradually reversing the trend where population growth exceeds GDP growth, many of these challenges we are currently facing will slowly but surely fade away.

Last year, we celebrated the fact that we exited our first recession in 25 years. To me, that celebration was premature.

After contracting for five consecutive quarters, Nigeria came out of recession in the second quarter of 2017 with a GDP growth rate of 0.55%. In the third quarter, we fared better with 1.40%.

While this looks somewhat like we exited the recession, the reality is that when you factor in our population growth rate of 2.3%, which is one of the highest in the world, have we really exited a recession? Technically, yes, but in reality, it is doubtful.

This month of February 2018, according to the World Poverty Clock, Nigeria has just overtaken India as the world’s capital of extreme poverty. There are more extremely poor people in Nigeria than there are in India, a country that has six times Nigeria’s population.

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.

According to the African Development Bank, in 2017, 18 African countries grew their Gross Domestic Product above 5%. Nigeria, which was number one in 2014, was not amongst these nations. We must figure out what has happened in the intervening years between 2014 and 2018 and fix what went wrong.

What happened to brilliant initiatives like the YouWIN programme which gave Nigerian youths the training and funding to start their own businesses?

Nigeria has a median age of 18.3 years. Our population is young. So when we have successful and laudable initiatives like YouWIN, which according to the World Bank, was two and a half times more effective than Mexico’s similar youth job initiative and ten times more effective than Turkey’s own version, we must continue them even when there has been a change in administration.

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, the official global anti-corruption monitoring agency, has not increased our Corruption Perception Index rating. The last time we made progress was in 2014.

Not to belabour the point, but 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.
Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

We have been in denial about restructuring, but with a failing economy, worsening insecurity, and negative indices in almost all spheres of the human development index, we can no longer run from the obvious.

Nigeria needs to be restructured. We must embrace restructuring as something that must be done to fix Nigeria’s broken systems and not just a campaign gimmick that we fish out of our magic hats and deny after we have gotten what we want.

Let me say this: The Restructuring that I, Atiku Abubakar, envisions, will see no state receive less money from the federation account than it currently does. I hope that will ease the anxieties of some who oppose restructuring. Restructuring will not cheat you. It will free you.

When I was in government, we reduced recurrent expenditure by introducing the monetization Policy and by privatizing many government enterprises, especially those that were consuming resources without generating revenue. Those policies have been bastardized today and we have seen a ballooning of our recurrent expenditure and shrinkage of our capital expenditure. We must return to the basics.

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.

Many of you in the audience and those of you watching from home may be surprised to know that when I was a teenager, the Saudi Royal Family came to Nigeria for medical tourism and precisely to the University College Hospital, Ibadan.

Can you imagine how I feel that now that I am an adult, Nigerians, and especially our leaders, are Africa’s Number One medical tourists.

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.

We are in critical times, and as I conclude, I want to urge a paradigm shift in Nigeria. Our elite are treated in Europe. Big Brother Naija 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? As far as I am concerned, if it concerns Nigeria, it must be done in Nigeria, not abroad. Not abroad.

Finally, let me say to Borno, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna and now Zamfara, I feel your pains on the recent deaths you have suffered and the time has come for all Nigerians to say together, no more! These senseless killings must end!

As a wise-man once said, that no one’s religious, economic or social interests is worth the shedding of blood.

We must accept that the difference between Nigerians is not North and South, Christian and Muslim or PDP and APC. The difference is between good and bad people and we must demonstrate that the good are much more than the bad.

Let me once again thank the organizers of the Silverbird Man of the Year Award for inviting me to give this keynote speech. Distinguished Senator Ben Bruce, please carry on with your common sense messages.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen and may God bless Nigeria!”


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