BEING TRANSCRIPT OF HIS EXCELLENCY ATIKU ABUBAKAR REMARKS AT A PARLEY WITH CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS HELD AT THE TRANSCORP HILTON, ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 20 DECEMBER, 2018
A lot has been said about the role of civil society organizations in a democracy. Let me tell you, democracy will not survive without the civil society organizations. I heard someone say what are we the political parties or the PDP doing? PDP has a very few membership, but the support for any political party is derived from the people and the people are the ones that constitute the civil society organization. So there must be a partnership between the civil society organizations and the political parties to enthrone, sustain, maintain and develop democracy. Therefore, I will like to appeal for the strengthening of this partnership between the civil society organizations and the political party – in this case, the PDP because it was the PDP that enthroned democracy in 1999, not the APC. And as humans and political parties, we make mistakes, you vote us out and vote us back, but the PDP is the party that enthroned democracy in this country since 1999 and ensured that it is still here with us.
Having said that let me answer the professor’s questions.
How do we restore the dignity of Nigerians either abroad or at home. The dignity of Nigerians start from home, not abroad. It is when we dignify Nigerians at home that they are dignified abroad. But how do we dignify Nigerians? We must provide good governance, we must provide security, we must provide prosperity, we must provide jobs to them. Anything that makes a human being not undignified, we must respect law and order, and we must obey court orders.
These are things that dignify human beings, so if you dignify Nigerians at home, they will be dignified abroad.
There was a time I went to the United States for a course as a customs officer. When I got there, they told me every Nigerian passport holder is a suspect. So, the question is what makes a Nigerian passport holder a suspect? Many things. And these start from home. Therefore, we must dignify Nigerians at home, so that Nigerians can be dignified abroad. And I can assure you, a PDP government will dignify Nigerians so that they can be dignified abroad.
How can we stop kidnapping? Simple, provide jobs! Because most of those kidnapping are jobless!
How do we encourage Nigerians abroad to return home? Nigerians are some of the best brains abroad. I give you a little example with the American University of Nigeria I set up in Yola. Before I opened the university doors, for about 5 years, I made sure I provided all the infrastructure the university would require: water, electricity, sewage, internet, name it, and then we advertised for Nigerians who were particularly teaching in the United States since it is an American system university. And we had so many of them coming back because whatever they were looking for in America, is provided in Yola! If you are used to teaching in America via the internet, we provided the internet that is why you might be shocked to know that today, 52% of internet traffic in Nigeria is in Yola! Because the students, lecturers are on e-books, workers and everybody on e-technology!
So if we want our citizens who have excelled abroad to return home, let us provide what they get there, and this is doable because we have the human and material resources to do it. This is how I believe our experts abroad can return home.
I come to the second question which is why UNICEF is being expelled from certain parts of this country. You see, they are doing that because they want to isolate our country in the comity of nations. We are grappling with multi-faceted problems as far as the issue of children and education is concerned and these are some of the issues that the UNICEF deals with and we have a lot of these challenges, so why on earth do we expel UNICEF from some parts of the country? Therefore, the civil society groups and the political parties have to partner in protecting the rule of law, freedom and democracy in this country. Believe me, if we joke with this country, we will end up with a dictatorship in this country. But I can assure you I have all my life fought for democracy and against dictatorship and I will continue to fight it!
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, these are the questions that have been asked. I want to thank you very much indeed. Thank you for listening.