Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has said that he know how to end the Boko Haram insurgence that has plagued the country for years.
Speaking on various national issues during an interview with The Africa Report, the former vice-president noted that he warned people about the danger of Boko Haram. He also spoke about the herders/farmers crisis in the country.
“I happen to know how Boko Haram came into being. They were offshoots of political thuggery. Politicians used those boys in Boko Haram to win elections and then abandoned them and then there were no jobs for them. It was the same thing with the Niger Delta. In 1998, I saw it myself and I warned people,” he said.
“It’s going to be a multifaceted approach. It will involve negotiations. It will involve military action.
“In each province in the north, we used to have a grazing reserve. During the season, the cattle are in the reserves. When it is off-season, when farmers would have cultivated all their crops, then the cattle move out to the areas where the farmers have cultivated, allowing the grass in the grazing reserves to grow. These grazing reserves have been abandoned over the years.
“One way is to make sure that we give local leaders the power to resolve disputes between farmers and grazers.”
Speaking on restructuring, Atiku stated that he welcomes the idea of states controlling 100% of their resources and revenue from such. He however said it is not “advisable at this stage of our development.”
“That will depend on negotiations between them and other parts of Nigeria. But I know they can get more because in the First Republic the regions had 50/50. I don’t mind giving even 100% […], but I would tax those states to maintain the federal government,” Abubakar said.
“Even during the First Republic there was this derivation sharing between revenues and resources, or between the regions and the federal government. So I think we could have a middle course. It would be unfair to ask me for specifics; that will depend on negotiations.”
Speaking on how he would tackle the number of out of school children, Abubakar said he would make education compulsory.
“There is no will on the part of the Nigerian government, at federal and state level, to see that the standard of education is improving. We introduced free primary in 2004. We omitted to provide penalties for state governments that did not meet [those demands],” he said.
“If I had the opportunity again, I would introduce a penalty clause, to make it not only compulsory, but if you don’t meet the target then you are penalised.
“You make education compulsory – if you don’t send your child to school you are punished for that – and you increase your educational budget to train more teachers, build more classrooms. I tried to do it as a vice-president because I realised how backward the north was. You know that we have an educational tax?”