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Atiku promises coastal guards, relocation of Niger Delta Ministry

Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Monday night, took his bid to clinch the presidential ticket of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the business community in Lagos as part of his tour of the South-West geo-political zone with a promise to raise, via legislation, a coastal guard, to be dominated by ex-militants, to protect the nation’s creeks and wetlands.

He also promised to revamp the education sector if elected.

At the candlelight dinner and interactive session with business leaders and senior professionals at La Scala Restaurant, Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos, Abubakar, who recalled his humble background and how he would have been an illiterate without government scholarship, said he would accord education top priority because.

He said: “Education is our biggest challenge as a nation. Education is the solution to the majority of our problems as a nation.”

Atiku, the Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF, consensus presidential candidate, decried the deteriorating economic fortunes of the country, epileptic power supply, poor infrastructure and rising insecurity. He unfolded his plans to tackle them.

On the Niger Delta problem and militancy, Atiku said as part of President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, they raised a committee that came up with the idea of the Niger Delta Ministry. He, however, lamented that the ministry had been shackled.

He asked: “Why is the Ministry in Abuja? When we created the Ministry of Abuja, did we not move it to Abuja? The Ministry of the Niger Delta has no business being in Abuja. It should be in the Niger Delta focused and providing infrastructure.”

He said raising coastal guards would help to redress the problem of militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
“We need Coastal Guards. Let’s retrain the militants and use them as coastal guards. We have the Air Force on the air, the Navy on the sea and the Army on the land. Who do we have in the creeks?  We need coastal guards in the creeks to provide all round security in the air, land, seas and the creeks.”

On worsening security in the country, Atiku lamented that 70 per cent of the country’s police was deployed to protect private individuals to the detriment of the citizenry. “We have 380,000 policemen but out of the 380,000 only 100,000 policemen are in the streets to guide us. The rest are guarding private citizens. This should not be so.

They have to be retrained and redeployed so that we can have peaceful environment.”
Abubakar, who challenged those accusing him of corruption to come up with the facts pledged to combat graft by pursuing quick resolution of corruption cases. “If I had my way, no corruption case should last more than six months. Some cases have been on for six to eight years. Once we begin to jail people for corruption, it will drop. This is an issue I will deal with. If we need legislation, I will go after it.

Grilled further, Atiku said he would restructure the polity and introduce state police if the majority of the states were in support. He also stated that he would resolve the electricity logjam in two years through short-term, mid-term and long term plans.

He restated his views that the economy was going down and urged concerted action. “There is something wrong with our economy. The foreign reserve is depleted. When we left in 2007, we left $26 billion in our excess crude account. By now, it should have grown to $52 billion. Can you show me where $52 billion was sunk in this country.

Today, we have $400 million in the excess crude account. Where has the money gone to? All the money has been shared.”

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Posted by on Dec 24 2010. Filed under Headlines, Ministries, Niger Delta. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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