BY VICTORIA HANSON, LAGOS A presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Kabir Taminu Turaki, has formally declared his intention to contest the presidential election in 2019.
He made the declaration in Lagos on Tuesday, during interaction with senior editors, promising to restructure the country.
Turaki, a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs during the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan, also vowed to fix the economy.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari can no longer be trusted hence, should not be re-elected in 2019.
According to him, “The Constitution is dynamic.
“And in the course of this dynamism, our laws that are meant to cover human relations for maximum good, for maximum people, for greater number of people, will require changes here and there.
“Whether it is restructuring from the perspective of true federalism, whether it is restructuring from the perspective of devolution of power or from the perspective of resource control, regionalism or state-ism, I believe in restructuring.
“And I will take bold steps.”
Turaki, said the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has failed to deliver on its electoral promises, saying he is the best candidate to send Mr Buhari back to Daura.
He spoke further, “I will be frank and honest with Nigerians.
“A government that has lied continuously; a government that would promise and say I have not made that promise is not a government that can be trusted.
“When APC was campaigning, they said that oil subsidy was a fraud, they wouldn’t do such again.
“There’s still subsidy.
“Their presidential candidate said ‘I will abolish the office of the First Lady’, but today the First Lady is still functioning.
“He said ‘I will stop medical tourism, will equip Nigerian hospitals to make sure that Nigerians stay back’ and today, who is the number one Nigerian medical tourist?
“The President said on the day of his swearing-in ‘I belong to everybody, and I belong to nobody’, now, the everybody we know is the 95 per-centres, forgetting the five per-centres.
“So, what happens to people who didn’t vote for him?
“Will he equally say by any stretch of the imagination that by refusing to vote you are not entitled to any opportunity in government?”
Turaki also spoke on the challenges confronting the economy and how he intends to create jobs and not lose them as he said the present administration had.
He said: “Nobody, no sensible person will come in an atmosphere of insecurity and invest his money in any country.
“We need to bring back integrity and credibility to the art of governance in this country.
“I can do that.
“I have knowledge.
“I have experience.
“I have strong will.
“I have a good health and dynamism.”
On the advantage he has over other aspirants on the platform of the PDP, Turaki said: “The advantage that I have over other candidates is my integrity, my credibility, my education, my youthfulness, my position as a bridge builder.
“I’m not fighting anybody and nobody is fighting me.
“So, I will ensure that the polity is not overheated.
“And beyond this, I think the relationship I have established as a private legal practitioner, as the Chairman of Muslim Union, as a Minister, will give me that opportunity of linking up and building stronger bridges.
“And I come from North West zone.
“Yes, most of them come from North West zone, but the issue will be who has the capacity?
“Who can defeat President Buhari?
“And I say, more than all others, if I have the opportunity, I will beat him in Round One.
“Talking about employment, there’s a lot of ways where jobs will be created.
“We are all living witnesses of millions of jobs that Nigerians have lost during this regime, which has a lot of multiplier effects on the people of this country.
“There’s no country where you allow 2-digit inflation to thrive and expect that your country will grow.
“We’ll do something about that.
“Already, there are critical Institutions like the Bank of Industry, like NEXIM, like others that could give soft loans to our young entrepreneurs that will enable them to begin not only to develop themselves but to grow wealth.
“So, we must liberalize the economy.
“We’ll look at agriculture.
“Agriculture has always been a great provider of employment, but the kind of agriculture we are going to do is not what has been done before.
“We will explore science and technology.
“We’ll do precision agriculture.
“Not only are we going to give farmers seed and seedlings, we’ll ensure that we revive the extension programme so that farmers will get critical advice on everything they need, including the amount of water.
“It’s been done in Israel.
“We’ll do it here.
“As a president, what you need is a strong political will.
“Nigeria is well endowed with human and material resources.
“I can bring many experienced people home to come and serve their fatherland.
“Any leader who is educated, any leader who is hard working, will have unimpaired access to information that would enable him to lead this country.”
The opposition PDP is yet to fix date for its presidential primary.