By Ibrahim Obansa (Lokoja) and Myke Uzendu (Abuja)
Former vice president and presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari lack the capacity to take out the country out of her present economic downtrodden.
Atiku asserted that the economy cannot get better under Buhari because the President’s knowledge of the economy is “so archaic that he cannot respond to the present realities.”
He said that he had no problem with his former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who declared recently that he would not support Atiku’s presidential ambition.
Speaking on Thursday in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, after meeting with PDP delegates to solicit their support, Atiku declared that his major concern now is how to get the party’s ticket, adding that every other issues relating to his former boss would be tackled.
While lamenting the state of the economy which he had worsened the livelihoods of Nigerians, Atiku said that if elected as president he would work assiduously to revamp the economy through incentives to both local and foreign investors,
The Turaki Adamawa said that as part of his strategies for economic recovery, he would accelerate massive investment in rail and water transportation.
Atiku also expressed his reservations on the readiness of Buhari to hand over to the winner of the forthcoming presidential elections.
He however assured Nigerians that should the PDP candidate wins the election, Buhari would be forced to do the needful by respecting the will of the people to hand over to the winner.
The presidential hopeful said that his fears were borne out of the statement credited to Buhari when he was the military ruler in 1984 that his then government had no plan for transition to civil rule, claiming that the president was never a democrat
“If we must rebuild Nigeria, we must give priority to rail transportation. It will keep articulated vehicles off our roads which will enable our roads to last longer and remove all the potholes which dot our roads across the country.
“God has endowed us with abundance of waterways but we could not maximise them. In those days, while I was growing up, we used to have steamers all the way from Lagos through Lokoja up to the far north of Adamawa state. We have not been maintaining them, if we come on board; we will definitely open them up so that we can also have efficient water transportation.
Also testerday, Atiku condemned the Presidency and APC for denouncing the reports of The Economist magazine and HSBC.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a research arm of The Economist of London, and the HSBC, a global banking and financial services company had said that Buhari would lose the 2019 presidential election to the PDP candidate because of the prevailing worsening economic conditions in the country.
In a statement on Thursday in Abuja from the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Atiku said that he had been vindicated having earlier predicted that Buhari is unelectable.
He said: “Our attention has been called to the desperation of the Buhari government and the APC in denouncing the projections of The Economist magazine that exposed the incumbent Nigerian government for the failure that it is.”
Atiku pointed out other negative international reports and predictions under this administration including the report that Nigeria overtook India as the world headquarters for extreme poverty, the National Bureau of Statistics report of last December that 7.9 million Nigerians lost their jobs in 21 months, the Transparency International report that Nigeria is more corrupt today than it was under the PDP and has moved 12 places backward in the Corruption Perception Index, from 136 in 2014 to 148.
“They pointed out the Global Terrorism Index report which revealed that Nigeria is more terrorised and insecure today than she was in 2014 going from fourth most terrorised nation to being the third most terrorised nation.
“They equally mentioned the Bloomberg report that placed Nigeria as the fourth worst performing currency in the world under Buhari.
“Even if the Buhari administration claims that The Economist made a mistake, did HSBC, the world’s largest bank, make a mistake in adjudging the continuation of the Buhari government beyond 2019 as an economic disaster for Nigeria in the making? That these two economic giants independently arrived at the same conclusion is damning” Atiku queried.