Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday visited the Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Seriake Dickson, promising to ensure that the Niger Delta’s yearning for a restructured Nigeria becomes a reality in 2019, when he is voted in as the country’s next president.
The presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), boasted that he had the courage to readjust the current governance structure in the country, just like he stood up to military dictatorships in the past, insisting that Nigeria cannot run away from the rising calls for restructuring.
He thereafter presented a document to Governor Seriake Dickson, his host, which he said encapsulated his views on the subject, maintaining that he would hit the ground running on the issue of re-tuning Nigeria for efficiency if elected.
Abubakar who also met with members of the PDP in the state, was accompanied by a former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniels, who is also the Director General of his campaign organisation and an ex-Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe.
“I have been following with keen interest your (Dickson’s) position on restructuring. If you know, I have been advocate of restructuring since 2004. Governor Dickson, I would like to invite you as you join me as we work together towards 2019 so that we can do it together.
“The governor and I are on the same page as far as the issue of restructuring is concerned. We have been consistent about it. For us to get the unity, progress and development we are looking for, we cannot escape from restructuring”, he said.
Titled “Restructuring as a pathway to unity and development in Nigeria”, the former Vice President noted that many issues that currently bedevil the country could be solved if Nigeria was truly a federal state.
While taking a swipe at the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly destroying Nigeria’s economy, he vowed to confront anti-democratic forces in the country which are bent on taking the nation many steps backward.
“I have been in the vanguard of returning democracy to this country. Some of us lost their lives, some shot etc., but we succeeded. We have stood up to anti-democratic forces and you know I can stand up again to anybody or any force in this country. I know you have the courage and perseverance that I have to change the change.
“Before 2015, you knew how the economy was. Today, you know how it is. The largest unemployment in the history of this country since the APC took over office.
“Because they were never there before, they didn’t know how to create jobs, they didn’t know how to govern, they didn’t even understand the economy. They do not understand the complexities of this country. They couldn’t even balance their government. They couldn’t form a cabinet for more than six months”, he said in reference to the APC.
On his part Governor Dickson said there was no going back on his call for restructuring and pledged to take his consultations to all parts of the country until Nigeria achieves a true federal structure.
“We have the challenge to take power from an incumbent administration and all of us know the nature and character of the government we are talking about.
“I call for a rejection of a one-party dictatorship in the country. On behalf of our people, our position on restructuring, whether you call it true federalism etc. unless people want to be mischievous, they mean the same thing.
“The people of the Ijaw nation cutting across Ondo to Akwa Ibom…have made their positions known over and over again that the 2019 election is going to be a referendum on restructuring.
“In furtherance of this sacred mandate from our people, I have made several consultations with several leaders and even across political divides. I conveyed that message clearly to the president on the need to restructure Nigeria. I and our leaders have resolved to take this message to all nooks and crannies of this country.
“That it is in the interest of everyone if we must exist in 200, 300 years. Restructuring is a call for adjustment”, Dickson opined.
Orubebe, who also spoke, noted that among the presidential aspirants within the party, the former vice president remains the only one qualified to rescue the country.
“I have looked through all the aspirants for who can manage it, it is only Atiku Abubakar that I see. Atiku is an enigma. What we need now in PDP is a man with capacity and vision. What they stop the region from getting under Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Atiku will provide more”, he said.