Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, has expressed fear about some economic indices suggesting that the country is slipping into a failed state.
Atiku, who contested the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, said this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.
The statement signed by him is titled, ‘World’s Highest Unemployment Rate: Time To Help This Government, Help Nigeria.”
Atiku lamented that his earlier warnings to the regime of the President Muhammadu Buhari were ignored.
He said, “In a situation where we are simultaneously the world headquarters for extreme poverty, the world capital for out-of-school children, and the nation with the highest unemployment rate on earth, there is a genuine and present danger that we might slip into the failed states index – God forbid!”
He attributed the cause of the nation’s current predicament to the All Progressives Congress-led regime’s decision to abandon “the people-centred leadership and free trade and deregulatory policies” of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
Atiku said the country at that time was maintaining an almost single-digit unemployment rate.
He said the Buhari regime was now implementing discredit command and control policies that had led to a “massive capital flight” from Nigeria.
Atiku said, “Even with the lack of funds, we continue to ramp up government involvement in sectors that ought to be left to the private sector, with the latest being the ill-advised $1.5bn so-called rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery that has failed to turn a profit for years.
“What this government must realise is that the unprecedented insecurity Nigeria is facing is the result of youth unemployment.
“Idleness is the worst feature of unemployment because it channels the energy of our youth away from production and towards destruction, and that is why Nigeria is now the third most terrorised nation on earth.”
The PDP chieftain urged the Buhari regime to ensure that all school-age children were encouraged to be in school by paying parents earning less than $800 per annum a monthly stipend of N5,000.
He said, “If we can get the 13.5 million out-of-school Nigerian children into school, we will turn the corner in one generation.
“If we do not do this, then the floodgates of unemployment will be further opened next year and in the years to come.
“As a nation, we are better off privatising our refineries and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation through the time-tested Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas model in which the Federal Government owns 49 per cent equity and the private sector 51 per cent.”
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says about 30 million Nigerians were unemployed before Buhari took over office.
Adesina said the recent report released by the National Bureau of Statistics that 23.2 million Nigerians are unemployed was not new.
The President’s spokesman said this on Sunday on Channels Television’s ‘Sunday Politics.’
Checks by The PUNCH, however, showed that the unemployment rate was 8.9 per cent when Buhari took office in May 2015, while it has now grown to 33.3 per cent under Buhari.
Responding to a question, Adesina said, “You will recall that in the build-up to the 2015 elections when the APC was campaigning, the figure that then-candidate Buhari used was that a minimum of 30 million Nigerians was unemployed, particularly youths and that his government was going to do something about it.
“That was in 2014/2015. So, don’t make it appear like a genie that just came out of the bottle. No, it had always been there. It had always been there.”
Adesina also lambasted former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar for calling on the President to improve.
Adesina added, “The former Vice-President was in power for eight years. Now, he is in the opposition. You can’t take whatever he says as the gospel. When former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was in government with President Olusegun Obasanjo, where did they take the country?
“Where did they leave the country? I have seen clips on social media where he said some things they promised to do, particularly on power; some people collected some trillions and didn’t deliver. Former Vice-President is part of the rot this country became.
“He cannot exculpate himself; he cannot sit in judgment over anybody. He played his part for eight years and they left the country where they left it. He cannot, like Pontius Pilate, begin to wash clean of what Nigeria has become.”