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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has asserted that northern governors and the North, in general, have now bought into his restructuring mantra unlike in the past when they were opposed to it.
Atiku said restructuring simply meant giving states more powers and responsibilities while also executing individual programmes in their respective states.
The presidential candidate made the remarks when he featured as a guest of the Arewa Joint Committee interactive sessions alongside other presidential candidates on Saturday, in Kaduna.
The former vice-president stated that part of his government’s agenda was to drive revenue and taxation, thereby moving away from an oil-based economy by making agriculture a top priority through giving the North the desired support.
He stated, “In 2004 when I started advocating restructuring, I had a very strong opposition from the North; today, the northern governors themselves and the northern people have bought into restructuring.
“This means giving states more powers and responsibilities to own their funding to execute their own individual programmes in their respective states. It does not mean that you are going to get less from what you are going to get. But it simply means more responsibilities as far as governance is concerned.
“So, what can we do to make sure that we wean ourselves from dependence on oil? Agriculture is one top priority I intend to make sure the North receives the greatest support so that we can reinvent our agriculture.”
On small and medium scale enterprises, Atiku further stated that “they are what provide prosperity and employment to the lower income earners in the country.
“I can give you an example which I have always given. I have a micro-standard finance bank which is today one of the best in the country and it empowers virtually only women. As a result of that, we have moved 45,000 families out of poverty in my state, to a state of prosperity. All of them are women.
“I proposed that we will set aside $10bn to promote our young entrepreneurs who leave school before they can start up their own businesses. There is something very important and that is making sure entrepreneurship is part of our curriculum,” he added.
On education, he pointed out that his educational institution in Yola provides the needed entrepreneurship skills for every student despite the course of study.
“If you have attended my university in Yola, whether you are studying law, engineering or science, you must study entrepreneurship. It is a compulsory subject. This is because when you come out, you don’t have to be looking for a job. We want you instead to create jobs both for yourself and for others.
“And then of course repositioning our educational system in all northern Nigeria, there was no drop out. Those of you who are old as myself or older than me can testify.”
He told the gathering about his passion for education, optimism for unity, peace and security.