BY EDIDEM UYA in Calabar•
Nigeria’s former Vice President and presidential aspirant, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hinted that he will run a lean government if elected president of Nigeria in 2019.
The policy, he also said would be part of the restructuring of the country, and issue that will form part of the 2019 election campaign.
Atiku disclosed this on Monday in Cross River State Government House, Calabar when he paid a courtesy call on the state Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, as part of his ongoing nationwide consultations.
Atiku who was accompanied during the visit by many of his supporters including the former Governors of Ogun and Imo States, Gbenga Daniel and Chief Achike Udenwa, respectively, said if given the opportunity to serve, he would restructure the country, and ensure that what belongs to the people gets to them.
The presidential hopeful, who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), urged the people of the state to give him the support to become Nigeria’s president in 2019.
“If you give me your support, you can expect more than what you have given me…. I can assure you that because of your impact in my life, you will continue to be my priority in the sense that you will always have federal support to ensure that you continue to achieve whatever you want to achieve in this state,” Atiku said.
The presidential aspirant commended the governor for being broad-minded in his approach to governance, which he said has ensured peace and tranquillity in this state.
“Your inclusiveness of governance has led to a number of achievements which are not only known in Cross River State but the whole country.
“There are very few states that are actually very regular and prompt in payment of salaries like this state. Honestly, we tend to praise and commend Cross River State for paying as at when due. This achievement has resonated all over the country and you are seen as an example of good governance,” Atiku said.
He noted that in spite of the lean resources of the state, the governor, through application of intellect, is rapidly industrialising the state, thus creating thousands of jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.
He listed industries built by the Ayade-led administration to include the Cross River Garment Factory, the Calendar Pharmaceutical Company, the rice seeds and seedlings centre, the banana plantation, rice mill, and cocoa processing plant in Ikom.
While describing the governor’s decision to build a superhighway and a deep seaport as remarkable, he assured him of the federal government’s support in ensuring the state achieves its dreams.
“I am not living here but we get news of all these because if you goggle Cross River State and Ben Ayade, you will see all these.
“This is technology and it is digital. Your achievement like the rice seedling centre, which is undergoing a test run now, is a major development in the agriculture sector and will employ a large number of unemployed youths. You are indeed a talk-and-do governor,” he said.
Responnding, Ayade said the state is rich in both mineral and hydrocarbons but lamented a situation where the mineral resources cannot be explored without the approval of the federal government.
He, therefore, expressed happiness that restructuring is part of Atiku’s agenda, stating that “we will like to see a federal government that will respond to our yearnings and create that platform that will allow us exploit our wealth and create a new hope for our people.”
Ayade who disclosed that the state has found huge oil deposits in its offshore locations without licences to exploit them, questioned:, “To what extent would the federal government continue to hold and sequester everything that belong to the country to herself?”
On Atiku’s presidential ambition, Ayade said: “As an aspirant of the PDP and somebody who has been a vice president, I believe that the experiential calculus shows clearly that you are capable, competent and qualified to aspire for the position of president.”
Highpoint of the visit was the presentation of a book entitled: ‘Restructuring as a pathway to unity and development in Nigeria,’ to the governor by Atiku.