Nigeria’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar says the President Muhammdu Buhari-led government, in 2019 plunged the nation into throes of economic instability, with more people losing jobs and the attendant outcome of more children being out of school and more families having hard time in accessing basic needs of life.
He said he did not share the sentiment when some people claimed that the out-gone 2019 was a successful year for Nigerians, saying such sentiments were reductionist and did the harm of making the people have a false sense of victory.
“The bitter truth is that Nigeria is still in the throes of economic instability, with more people losing jobs and the attendant outcome of more children being out of school and more families having hard time in accessing basic needs of life,” Atiku said in his New Year message on Tuesday.
According to him, “The coming of the New Year 2020 is symbolic in many ways. First, it heralds a brand new decade. Secondly, and probably more important, is that this New Year will require us all to stay together more than ever before to take on, head front, the common enemy of insecurity that challenge our everyday lives as Nigerians
“In this New Year, however, I will rather ask that Nigerians stand together with renewed vigour and determination to battle the hydra-headed demon of insecurity that has plagued us in the past decade.
“We must challenge the inadequacies that made us become the global headquarters of extreme poverty; much as we must work hard and fast enough to eliminate the scourge of out-of-school children in the country. These are the challenges that this new decade has thrown at us and we cannot afford to slumber and submit to defeat.
“The problems of extreme poverty and scant investments in education play huge roles in fueling the problems of violent extremism that we spent the past decade contending with. We cannot win the fight against terrorism if we do nothing to reduce or eliminate poverty and illiteracy,” he stated.
Atiku added that the reality of this new decade required of Nigerians to recalibrate their approaches and to pursue some tough choices, saying if failure was not an option, then “we must let go of our egos and conveniences.”
“In this new decade, we must start to do things differently if we are honest about our desire for a better and prosperous future. There must be a deliberate effort to improve the material wellbeing of the people, by lifting millions of Nigerians out of the extreme poverty belt at a start, and to prosperity. Government must rethink many of its policies that is sinking more people into the abyss of extreme poverty.
“It is incumbent on government at all levels to pursue policies that will provide decent housing to the mass majority; put food on the table; provide healthcare and education. We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different outcome. It is therefore high time we caused a rejig of economic policies that will promote an expansion of the economy and create jobs opportunities aplenty,” he said.
He stated that at the individual level, this moment called for more empathy and sacrifice, as the New Year and a new decade come with the opportunity to make better impressions in lives Nigerians and in the lives of people around them.
“I wish to restate that our collective call for rule of law and our history about the struggle for democratic rule did not envisage a situation where judicial pronouncements would be worth less than the paper upon which they are rendered.
“It is a bad advertisement for the country and its democracy if declarations made by the court are not respected without the executive arm of government agreeing to same. Any democracy is not worth the appellation if the principle of separation of power is not ingrained in it. In the new year, government should not pretend to be democratic, but rather act according to the fundamentals of a democracy,” he explained.
Atiku said he expected that in the New Year, there would be a better observance of rule of law and greater respect for citizens’ democratic rights.
“While we anticipate a change of attitude across board in the new year and new decade, I wish every Nigerian a happy and prosperous 2020,” he added.