The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, says his administration will address the nation’s security challenges by taking tough decisions if elected in the coming general elections.
With about six months to the polls, the PDP candidate promised to prioritise the revival of the ‘crawling’ economy, especially through private sector participation.
He made the remarks on Tuesday at the Private Sector Economic Forum organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Lagos.
“We will take tough and difficult decisions on security matters without fear or favour,” said Atiku who was vice president between 1999 and 2007. “Investment is a coward animal and is fearful of conflicts and insecurity. I will break the jinx in infrastructure financing.”
He decried the level of poverty and the disturbing rate of unemployment which he said were among the major factors fuelling insecurity in the land.
“The Nigerian economy is crawling rather than growing. Per capita income, a measure of citizens’ well-being, has progressively fallen since 2015 because of declining output and a fast-growing population. Nigerians are worse off today than they were in 2015,” he said.
“The oil and gas sector, which is the economy’s lifeline has suffered a decline in 19 out of 30 quarters since 2014. For many economic sectors and for ordinary citizens it still feels like a recession.
“Under the present administration, our people are not working. More than 23 million people are out of jobs. In just five years between 2015 and 2020, the number of fully employed people dropped by 54%, from 68 million to 31 million people.”
Nigeria In Borrowed Robes?
Atiku believes the number of unemployed people is more than the population of Lagos, or the inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Kwara and Nasarawa states combined.
He added that the majority of the unemployed were young men and women who lack not only the means to survive but any hope for the future.
For the first time in Nigeria’s history, according to Atiku, the Federal Government paid more in debt service than it earned.
He stated that Nigeria was already breaching one of the applicable debt-sustainability thresholds by spending more than 100% of its revenue for debt service.
The former vice president lamented that capital has taken a flight while policy incoherence and flip-flops, combined with internal insecurity have continued to pose a significant risk to investment and output growth.
For him, Nigeria has lost its esteemed position as Africa’s preferred investment destination to less endowed nations, and the failure of the present administration is staring every Nigerian in the face as the country’s economic, social, political and security challenges persist and assume frightening dimensions.
“More Nigerians are poorer and more miserable today than in 2015,” Atiku lamented. “Basic commodities are now beyond the reach of the average Nigerian. A loaf of bread costs 100% more today than it did in 2020.
“Farmers now pay more than 200% more for a bag of fertilizer -if they see it-than they did in 2020. The APC-led government is dressing Nigeria in borrowed robes! Nigeria is broke. Nigeria under the APC-led government has consistently run-on budget deficits since it came to power in 2015. These budget deficits are often above the three per cent threshold permissible under the Fiscal Responsibility Law.”