The former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, in Abuja, declared his intention to contest for president, saying his generation of Nigerians must solve the country’s problems before passing over leadership to the younger generation.

Mr Abubakar spoke at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, where he formally declared his intention to run under the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He advised Nigerians and his party members to ensure that only experienced leaders are considered for the highest office in the land. “We cannot pass all these mess to the next generation, we must clean it up,” he said. “This is not the time for a novice. This is not the time for ill prepared leaders. This is not the time for risky experiments. It is time for action.”

Recipe for power problems

While outlining his plans to solve the nation’s power problems, Mr Abubakar stated that former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, did not accept his proposed solutions. “If my blueprint for sufficient power in Nigeria in the year 2002 had been implemented, by 2006 we would have been self sufficient in power,” he said. “I have the solution to the power problem.” The former number two citizen explained that an immediate solution to the power problem was the building of “small and medium power stations” in different parts of the country through the encouragement of the private sector.

Speaking on his achievements while in office, Mr Abubakar stated that “as vice president in the Obasanjo administration, I assembled the economic team, [and] pursued privatization program of the government. I [also] played an important role in the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”

While condemning the increase in armed robbery and kidnapping in the country, Mr Abubakar stated that “Governance at the highest level as been reduced to the announcement of award of contracts, to the sharing of oil revenue … and not to development.” He also said that in spite of the modest achievements of the past, the country is still “drifting like a rudderless ship,” adding that it is difficult for anybody to say exactly what vision is guiding the actions of those in charge as the country seems to be stumbling from one crisis to the other. He expressed dismay that the nation’s economy is “weak and unable to deliver the goods and services needed to give our people a decent standard of living to the people.” The reason, according to him, is because the infrastructure is in “shambles” thereby making economic and social activities “unprofitable and unattractive.” He also condemned the decay in infrastructure and the collapse of public education which has led to an increase in private schools in the country.

Five point agenda

Mr Abubakar said he has decided to pick five areas for intervention because of their critical impact on all other areas of development. The five areas are: Employment generation and wealth creation; power generation and infrastructural development; security, good governance and war against corruption; education, health and social services; and the Niger-Delta. While commenting on the position of the PDP, as stated by the party’s publicity secretary, Rufai Alkali, that he could not vie for the party’s ticket as he has not asked for, and has not been granted a waiver, Mr Abubakar said he was only waiting for the formal declaration. “Tomorrow, I will file for my application, let’s see whoever will stop it,” he said.

The former vice president, whose campaign slogan is ‘Make good things happen,’ said that he would vie for the presidency under the PDP, and will not leave the party even if he does not win the primaries. Mr Abubakar recently returned to the PDP from the Action Congress, on whose platform he contested the 2007 presidential elections. Though a founding member of the PDP, he left the party following disagreements with Mr Obasanjo in 2006.

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