By ISAAC ANUMIHE, ABUJA
As 2015 elections cascade down, the political gladiators are busy oiling their armoury to overwhelm their opponents and take over power.
One of such politicians is the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who last week announced his economic blueprint.
He vowed to tackle what he called Nigeria’s greatest economic headaches which are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) headlong. Do succeed in this, he promised that the mafias that hold them bound would be unchained.
Atiku said until these mafias that run these institutions are chased out they will not work better.
“I remember when we came into office, I told my boss that there are two mafias in this country, one is NEPA and the second one is NNPC. Unless you break those mafias, you will never get those institutions to work. Unfortunately, up till now, we have not been able to break those mafias. So, one thing you must do is to dismantle the mafia,” he said.
He however, denied privatizing Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and the Nigerian refineries and so cannot be connected with their dysfunctional state.
On job creation, Atiku gave the indication of stimulating the private sector and getting direct foreign investment.
For him, government has the duty to create an enabling environment for the private sector that is the engine of job creation. He decried the over-dependence on the fast-drying oil revenue.
Alliance with private sector
“Right now, our revenue is on the decline. Before, we were exporting 2.3 million barrels of oil per day. Today, we exporting I.8 million barrels of oil per day and the price is falling. I bet you, if you are relying on ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to create employment, the government would have less money and the next thing will be how do we close this, how do we cancel this and so on and so forth. If you stimulate the private sector and you get direct foreign investment and you give them incentives, they will come, create the jobs 10 times more than the MDAs will create. So, stop looking at job creation solely as the government’s responsibility. It is the responsibility of government to make sure that jobs are created. And the best way to create jobs is to stimulate the private sector, deregulate the economy, ensure the flow of direct foreign investment into the country and make it very easy for investors to come and invest in the country. We have seen it work in many places. I don’t know why we are shy of doing that in this country?” he ask rhetorically.
Atiku said that he would sensitize and incentivize the private sector to create jobs, because, according to him, they are the major creators of jobs.
“I will like to sit down with each and every one of you and ready to give you tax rebate. But you must create half a million jobs for me. People have asked me, ok, you are going to lose the tax from that and I ask, why do you also forget that those that are going to be provided with jobs are also going to pay tax? So, what I am losing from giving tax rebate I am going to recover from a larger taxable base. Running government is business nowadays. Don’t think government can do everything. Government does not have the money to do everything. The jobs that are created to develop the economies are created mainly by the private sector, and not essentially by government. But we continue to make the mistake in this country by thinking that government can create all the jobs that we want. No.
What is the problem if I call Aliko Dangote and give him 10 percent tax rebate, but with mandate and agreement that he gives me a million jobs? If he says I can give you, fine. One million jobs created and out of those one million jobs, of course they will pay tax. So, why do you say that I don’t have the will? I want to challenge anybody who thinks that I don’t have the will to give me the opportunity to see whether I have the will or not,” he boasted.
These statements, preceded Atiku’s Policy Review Summit slated for October 27, 2014 at the Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.
“The Summit will host a panel of experts who will fine-tune the elemental details of the Atiku 2015 Policy Document. The Draft Policy to be reviewed was drawn up within the context of the manifesto of our Party, the APC. This document provides an overview of our policy position.
The main thrust is the explicit bid to modify the way the machinery of federal government works by clarifying and streamlining MDAs remits and responsibilities, removing overlaps and operational redundancies.
Systematically devolving and delegating operational responsibilities to states and local governments, and private sector organisations (commercial and charitable) as well as to address habits and practices that currently compromise policy implementation,” he said.
Apart from enshrining good governance as the hallmark of his administration, the summit will eventually ensure that solutions can be implemented, monitored and evaluated.
Training and manpower development
Besides infrastructure and power, the summit will deliberate on education and skills acquisition, security, citizenship and governance as well as agriculture and food security.
Also, Niger Delta and North East reintegration will be on the card.
Recall that the Federal Government has attempted to privatize PHCN by unbundling the enterprise into 17 firms but several months after the privatization, the darkness that has engulfed the nation since independence seems to be darker. For several months now, the nation has been in total darkness. Some of these companies deeply committed themselves with the banks that they have repayment issues.
As for NNPC, the mafias are still waxing stronger that it needs a stronger force to destabilize them. Whether Atiku has the will or not to do so, only time will tell.