The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar said he would accept the outcome of the February 16 elections if it is credible.
Atiku, who spoke during a townhall programme tagged ‘The Candidates’ last night in Abuja, said he believed he had all the required experience and connections to become president, considering the “poor performance” of the current administration.
Anchor of the programme, Kadaria Ahmed, had asked Atiku “If you lose elections, will you accept the results?”
“If the elections are adjudged to be free, fair and credible, why not? I have lost elections before, and I’ve admitted,” Atiku said.
On anti-graft fight, the former vice president said he would bring reforms to the anti-corruption agencies and the judiciary.
“I have already indicated to you the kind of reform I want to undertake. That reform has to, number one, shorten the period of investigation by the investigating agencies,” he said.
But when asked how he would do that, Atiku said: “you have to legislate. This is a country that’s governed by the Rule of Law. So, you can only use Rule of Law to approach issues.
“In other words, investigation agencies must have a time limit within which to investigate. There must be a time limit within which to prosecute, and there must be a time limit by the judiciary to dispense justice,” he said.
He said if other countries could deal with corruption cases within short period without denying justice to the affected people, Nigeria too could do the same.
When asked if he would put statute of limitations on corruption issues, Atiku said: “Not necessarily, I don’t even like statute of limitations, because sometimes you let criminals go.
“In this era of technology, what the financial investigation will not be able to do within a specified reasonable period of time, I feel it is doable.”
On ongoing corruption cases, Atiku said: “I believe there will be need for dialogue between the various branches of government. Look, we are at a very, very crisis point in this country on the issue of fight against corruption.
“We can’t afford it please. Before we review our procedures and our laws, I think there’s need we do something immediately, and I believe everybody will understand, if you really intend to fight corruption,” he said.
On whether he would consider amnesty for treasury looters, the PDP presidential candidate said: “Why not? I give you an example of Turkey. Turkey gave an amnesty, and all the money abroad came back to Turkey, and the government said ‘we will bring the money, there’s even no taxation. We want you to invest in manufacturing, technology and real estate.
“Look at Turkey today. It’s like any other European country in terms of development. And then they drew a line. Why not? Personally, I have considered it.”
Atiku also hinted that he would establish an election offences commission to deal with election rigging by whoever is involved whether he is a member of any political party or he is an official of INEC or even a member of the security services.
On how he would resolve the farmer/herder clashes, Atiku said he believed the best solution was to enlighten herdsmen on the use of feeding lots, noting that the measure could be accepted with good enlightenment.
”These feeding lots can conveniently be established all over the country, because we have a number of factories that are producing livestock feeds. There’s need for an extensive enlightenment to herders to adopt this solution as a way to minimise as much as possible the herdsmen/farmers clashes,” he said.
He said he would be more than willing to probe the military on the issue of Boko Haram if there was need to do so.
“I think I can only assume the complaints by the fighting military is the reason why we have witnessed setback; and that is lack of equipment, lack of welfare for the fighting troops and others.
“I will be more than willing to investigate the hierarchy of the military. Believe me, if you are a commander and I have given you all that you require in terms of equipment, in terms of welfare of the troops and you overrun, I will deal with you.
“If you cannot go, bear the consequences. We cannot continue to accept that kind of situation whereby commanders lose lives, lose equipment to terrorists and then nothing happens to them,” he said.
On the issue of Shiites, Atiku said: “I don’t see any role of the military there. If the Shiites misbehave, let the police get them. I can’t just understand how the military get involved there.
“They said because the Shiites blocked them. If the Shiites blocked them, all they need do is contact the police; it is police aspect, not the military aspect.”
Also speaking at the townhall, the Vice Presidential candidate of PDP, Peter Obi, said Atiku has all it takes to rule Nigeria and unite Nigerians.
“At this time, we need somebody who has the experience, who can unite the country together,” he said.
On his approach to the fight against corruption, Obi said: “When you take over an economy of $520 billion dollars and you leave it chasing a criminal who stole it and ended up recovering $5 billion dollars, then what do you gain? Remember, in the ranking of corrupt countries, Nigeria jumped from 136 to 148 and then to 144. Is that an improvement?”
“We can learn what other countries like India did to pull out over 100 million persons out of poverty. India used to be the poverty capital of the world with over 176millions poor people. Today, India has been able to pull over 100 million of its population out of poverty.
“The best way to create jobs is through micro scale investments. If you don’t move the economy to a point that it is private sector driven, then you are wasting everybody’s time,” he said.
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