2019: Atiku releases policy document, vows to create three million jobs yearly

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Following yesterday’s lifting of the ban on campaigns for presidential and National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has promised to create three million jobs every year if he is elected President next year.

This is one of the key points in the policy document released by the PDP torch bearer Sunday, which details a seven-year timeline in which he intends to deliver on his campaign promises.

Giving a breakdown of the rate of unemployment in the country, Atiku said, “Close to 16 million people are unemployed, nine million more than in 2014.

“Over two million new entrants join the labour force each year meaning the unemployed share of the labour force more than tripled in less than a decade: from 5.1% in 2010 to 18.8% in 2017

“Unemployment for women and young people is at 33%, 70% of unemployed youths are uneducated and unskilled.

“Creating jobs and economic opportunities for these people will be vital both for reducing the pool of easy recruits for violent groups and reducing underlying grievances that feed the conflict”.

The former vice president disclosed plan to support micro, small and medium scale enterprises, MSMEs, saying Nigeria has a vibrant informal sector with nearly 40 million MSMEs employing 60 million people or 84 per cent of the labour force; promote the oil and gas sector by among other things, expanding the oil and gas reserves and boost upstream and downstream production.

He promised that his administration, if elected in 2019, will “launch a new, more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable national Entrepreneurship Development and Job Creation Programme.

“Target the creation of up to three million self and wage-paying employment opportunities in the private sector annually.

“Target all categories of youth, including graduates, early school leavers as well as the massive numbers of uneducated youth who are currently not in schools, employment or training.

“Create incubation centres, clusters and industrial/commercial hubs to provide a marketplace for MSMEs and SMPs.

“Champion the repositioning and streamlining the activities of the existing Federal and State Government Job Creation Agencies”.

Apart from job creation, the document also listed three other areas of priority namely infrastructure development, human capital development and poverty eradication with plans for 50 million Nigerians to be lifted out of poverty by 2025.

Atiku promised that if elected, he would enthrone transparency and accountability at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as well as effect partial privatisation of the corporation.

While disclosing of his plan to sell all four national refineries, he promised to incentivise the building of modular refineries in the northern parts of the country, reconsider the introduction of marginal fields bid round and blocks’ bid round; promote gas-power sector linkages as well as create a transparent incentive regime for purposeful growth of the national reserve base for oil and gas.

All these are expected to help Nigeria achieve GDP value of $900 billion by 2025.

Other areas of focus in terms of infrastructure is the construction of 5,000 kilometres of roads, and 5,000 kilometres of modern railway.

Atiku said his mission would be to reinforce Nigeria’s unity by promoting the spirit of co-operation and consensus, especially in a society “that is as complex and as heterogeneous as Nigeria;” establishing a strong effective democratic government that secures Nigerians and provides opportunities for them to realise their full potentials, allows greater autonomy for the federating units and gives each region in the country a sense of belonging.

He pointed out that despite the country’s vast resources, Nigeria has failed to deliver the development and living standards expected in the country.

“Nigeria’s under-performance is attributable largely to the many economic and political structural fault lines that limits its ability to sustain growth, create jobs and achieve real poverty reduction.

“Nigeria needs a unity that is transparently and collectively negotiated and agreed upon. We need to restructure our polity,” he added.

The presidential candidate disclosed that while economic growth in Nigeria has remained slow and uninspiring, the economy has remained undiversified, uncompetitive and foreign investments has continued to decline.

In addition, he stated in the policy document that Nigeria is in a precarious fiscal position, has a fragile financial system, poor exchange rate management system as well as regional disparities.

He said his administration would promote agri-business by collaborating with the states; promote the manufacturing sector to achieve increased manufacturing output from nine per cent, to 30 per cent of GDP by 2025.

Atiku said if elected, he would build a knowledge-based economy and establish a technology support programme to be funded by a Diaspora bond.

The PDP presidential candidate said his administration, if elected, would increase Nigeria’s export base and the country’s market in Africa; sign-off the African Free Trade Continental Agreement, AfCFTA, which the Buhari government has failed to sign; engage the organised private sector to identify how best to harness the benefits of the Africa Growth Opportunities Act, AGOA; promote public-private partnerships, among others.

“Our youths are our most valuable resources…and charting new frontiers. Their entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic and creative abilities are things of pride and should be applauded, encouraged and nurtured…I should know, I have thousands of them working for me all over the country,” he said.

Atiku said he truly believes that an educated population forms the backbone for a progressive and prosperous society…education is the key to unlocking opportunity, prosperity and progress…education can and should be this key,” he added.

In terms of his plan for the health sector, Atiku among others, said he would ensure a comprehensive reform of the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies as well as accelerate Nigeria’s transition towards achieving universal access to affordable and quality healthcare services for all by 2030.

Furthermore, the former vice president said he would encourage states and the private sector to incentivise studies for girls in sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM, as well as improve sporting facilities in all states of the country.

In the area of anti-corruption and rule of law, Atiku said he would champion institutional reforms of anti-corruption agencies and strengthen them to be more effective, retool Nigeria’s foreign policy instruments as well as reactivate meaningful registration at birth as a way of reducing crime and protect Nigerians.

Speaking about security, he said, “Our national security is multi-dimensional. It has gone beyond armed defence to include protection of democratic and constitutional values like food security, peace, human, political and economic security.

“Resolving the unfair access to democratic dividends to reduce internal armed conflicts, insurgencies, crimes and militancy.”

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