Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, disclosed that he might consider a government of national unity if elected president next year. He said this was to help douse tension and unite the Nigerian people.
The former vice president revealed this in a statement he personally signed.
Atiku criticised the All Progressives Congress (APC) federal administration for increasing the national debt burden, saying the government has been unreasonably upbeat about the reported growth rate of 3.4%.
In a related development, the chairman of DAAR Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said the choice of Atiku, a northerner, as PDP presidential candidate was not offensive to the southern region.
In the statement signed by him, Atiku said, there “is the consideration of a government of national unity that will douse the temperature, unite Nigerians and pave the way for improved security. Improved security allows for investments and, therefore, an improved economy.”
He said, if elected, he would target tax rebate, as a measure to encourage foreign and local investments into Nigeria, adding that the economy is in deeper trouble than the APC government is willing to admit.
The PDP presidential candidate stated, “The citizens’ level of misery hasn’t changed, and the reasons are obvious. First, the key sectors of the economy, notably agriculture, oil and gas (the country’s cash cow), and manufacturing (that contributes to jobs), are either growing slowly or declining.
“Second, unabated are rising commodity prices occasioned by high energy and transportation costs (and aggravated by the disorderliness in the forex market).”
Atiku said the debt levels had continued to rise while the fiscal capacity to service the country’s debts declined. He added that all these were enough to erase the perceived gains from output growth.
He explained, “Having run out of ideas, it appears that our unprecedented level of indebtedness is whetting the government’s appetite for more debt. This is a recipe for macroeconomic instability.
“We challenge the National Bureau of Statistics to share with the public their recent statistics on poverty, unemployment, and commodity prices — the reality of which will leave no hope for the common man.
“Like I have said before, increasing debts will never be a solution to our indebtedness. My government, if elected, will halt the rate of debt accumulation and, instead, focus on private-public partnerships in financing development.”
Atiku said it was in view of the state of the nation that he was considering a unity government.
He promised, “Targeted tax rebates to attract foreign and local investments, amongst other proactive measures to attract investments to grow the economy.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with journalists in Kano, shortly after the reception for former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shekarau, who returned to the main opposition party, Dokpesi said the PDP constitution allowed northern Nigeria to present a presidential candidate up to 2027.
He explained, “In 2015, when President Goodluck Jonathan was angling to contest elections, I personally wrote to him and asked him not to do so, to either go on vacation after completing Yar’Adua’s tenure or join the incoming government, so that he can come back and complete his full eight years.”
The Benin high chief blamed Jonathan for jettisoning an established order, adding that he foreclosed the chances of the south.
Dokpesi said of the former president, “But he was advised otherwise and adhered to that and that is what led to the crisis we have today and what also allowed the north to continue producing the president till 2027.
”I have been a member of the PDP from inception. I read and I know every stage of the party’s activities. Out of the 16 years of PDP rule, the north served only two years, that was why I opposed Jonathan in 2015, when he was running for elections. I told him he should allow the north to complete their eight years, then, he will have his full eight years after resting for a while.
“So, it is not true that it is the turn of the south in PDP, what Jonathan did was what brought about the crisis, which some people are pushing up.”
He said the truth was that some social media handlers were worried that it was not possible for the north to have the chairman of the party, presidential candidate, and Board of Trustees chairman, and maybe, the campaign DG also.
Dokpesi stated, “Now, it is because we are not situating issues in their proper perspective. The truth of the matter is that the PDP has a constitution and it has said people are elected and rotated on an eight-year basis.
“So, in 2019, that was when the PDP started its rotations. From that year up to 2027, the north is supposed to still present the president under PDP, so there is nothing wrong in Atiku Abubakar’s candidacy and we are not in 2027 yet; we are still in 2023.”
He admitted, “We lost the 2015 elections because we didn’t adhere to the rotational presidency and since then what has changed? Nothing!”