The Senate President and presidential aspirant under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bukola Saraki, on Monday accused the ruling APC government of stealing his ideas on farming.
“As a governor, I came up and said you must have commercial farming. What I said over seven years ago is what is the blueprint today that the government is trying to adopt. When I said it then, I was attacked. Today, the country is still spending N2 to N3 billion and it will continue to do so,” he said.
The Senate president also took aim at President Buhari saying Nigeria’s Presidency is not a part-time job, insisting the occupant must be youthful, energetic, and vibrant.
Saraki spoke on Monday night during his visit to the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum at the Asokoro’s residence of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum leader, Chief Edwin Clark, in Asokoro, Abuja.
This is even as he has expressed worries that Nigeria of today is dangerously disunited, lacking leadership capacity, with insensitivity and impunity being the order of the day.
He said “Where we are as a country today is too serious for us to take lightly. The Nigeria that we have today have never been so disunited. When you go to many parts of the country, people will tell you ‘Do I truly belong? Are we part of this country called Nigeria?
“On top of that, over a number of years, we have seen series of impunity. People are not held accountable. There is no inclusiveness in government. There is insensitivity and lack of empathy. These are big issues and unless we can unite a country, everything is…., development, creation of jobs.
“So the first thing that is key to us is how do we unite this country. What kind of President can unite this country?
“Lack of insensitivity, these are the issues that are driving suspicion, pulling us apart. Anything else we talk, development e.t.c can’t happen unless we bring everybody back.
“As such, he must somebody that can represent, somebody in any part of the country can say ‘I think he represents Nigeria’, ‘I think he will be fair to me whether I’m a Christian or Muslim’, ‘I think he will be fair to me whether I’m a northerner or southerner’. That gives us an opportunity of a platform to move forward,” Saraki said.
According to the Senate President, “Secondly, more importantly, I think what has been one of our major problem is capacity. I think over the years we have voted on sentiments. We have left capacity and ability, and used sentiments to decide who leads us. That is why we are where we are today.
“But we need Mr. President that has the capacity, that has the vision that can drive and perform.
“Without capacity on the part of the leadership, Nigeria cannot progress even though God has continued to blessed the nation.
“There is no country that can provide for its people, take them out of poverty the way we are going about it,” he warned.
The Senate President also pointed out that the countries that are getting it right did not happen by chance or trial and error.
According him, “The Asian tiger we talk about didn’t happen by chance, it didn’t happen by trial and error, it happened because they have visionary leaders, leaders that know where they want to take their countries to.
“As such, when looking for a president, he must be somebody that knows what it takes to do it. I say this all the time, you cannot give what you don’t have. I said it three years ago, I was harassed for it, when I said there are governments within government. There was no mistake about it. Governments are existing with no direction. And at such you must have a leader that understands.
“There is a new order in the world today. All over the world, they are now looking for vibrant leadership, youthful leadership. Even developed democracies are going there because it is not a part-time job, it is not an easy job. Today, the President of a country is a 24-hour job if you want to do it properly, especially in an environment where you want to reform a country. So you need youthfulness, you need energy, you need vibrancy.
“And most importantly, you need to be bold and courageous in order to take those decisions that need to be taken. And also to be focused. These are the qualities that are required,” he said.
On the economy, he said that the government cannot do it alone without creating the environment for the private sector to flourish.
Saraki said “Seventy percent of our population are young people. Government alone cannot take us there. Unless we have a private sector that is ten times bigger than what it is today, forget it young people will still be roaming around carrying their CV looking for jobs in government that will never come. It will never come because those jobs will never be there.
“The only way they will get jobs is when we have private sector that have ability to create jobs, and to create the investments that will make it happen. Two million barrels a day, with population growing at three percent, is not enough. What you need to do is ensure other sectors, minerals, agriculture, are growing.
The presidential aspirant assured the elders that he has what it takes to turn around the fortunes of the country.
Saraki said “If it is about the work, my leaders, I know I am very competent and I know what needs to be done to put this country on the right path.
“I have shown my experience, apart from my eight years and Chairman Nigeria Governors Forum, I have shown that …make people work together. I have also shown that in the Senate in the last three years, which have 18 former governors, despite all the efforts of the government.
“I believe I have been able to show leadership and capacity. it’s okay for us to say we want to get rid of Mr. President. By getting rid of Mr. President, we might not fix Nigeria. I don’t think we want to get rid of Mr. President without fixing Nigeria.
“So, we must find a candidate that must fix this country. I have the capacity that is required to turn this country around. This time around I believe we must go for capacity,” he said.
Saraki commended the elders for the sacrifices they are making towards ensuring good leadership for the nation.
He said “Let me appreciate the sacrifices you are all making at this time because you would have thought that with the many years you have given to this country, that what you should be doing now is relaxing and thanking God for where the country is going.
“But you are concerned, patriotic and desired to leave a better Nigeria for your children and grand children.” he said
Speaking earlier, the President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nwodo, reiterated that their reasons for interacting with presidential aspirants is to deepen democracy.
He said “Our desire is to deepen democracy in the course of our exchange by presenting the aspirants a number of national issues we feel important and critical to enable our country survive.
“We have spoken to about four presidential aspirants. We are anxious to know more about the candidates so that in our interactions with our people who are in the political parties we can better inform them of our dialogue with the various candidates, our judgement as to how they represent the aspirations of Nigerians.
“This elections is very important to Nigerians. For many Nigerians, if we get it wrong this time, we will be singing of our country.” he said