"Turaki has been passionate to serve, he has the passion to give back to Nigeria. You know his story, how he rose from being a nobody to becoming what he is today. The story about a ‘shoeless leader’ was stolen from Atiku. That one without shoe is no other person than Atiku. He was a herdsman child, his father didn’t know education. He didn’t go to school he was only rearing cattle and wanted his son to do the same. And you know the story about the fact that the local judge had to jail Atiku’s father so that Atiku could go to school.
Atiku went to school barefooted. Government gave him uniform, slippers, gave him education free and even gave him allowance for his upkeep as a school going kid. So looking at the opportunities he had gained from the state and seeing what he has become, rising to become the second most important person in the leadership hierarchy of this country there is always the wage to give back in kind.
He has also been given enormous opportunities and has invested heavily in the southern part of Nigeria. He currently ranks higher than most state governments in terms of job creation as the businesses he is involved in has served more Nigerians both directly and indirectly in terms of employment than even the government.
If you look at what is happening in his native home of Adamawa, he has the American University of Nigeria. As I speak to you now that university has the largest concentration of Americans in the country, there are more Americans there than you have in the American embassy. You can imagine what it does for the image of Nigeria. So this is how far Atiku’s vision has taken him. He wants to give back to Nigeria, he believes he owes Nigeria and Nigeria does not owe him. That is why he is driven by passion and in his view, as an individual and also a member of a group that is doing business, I can say he has done so much to change the lives of Nigerians and still wants to serve on a scale that is much better. As soon as he becomes the president of Nigeria, using the enormous power conferred by the constitution on the president, his vision is that this opportunity that he got as a child would be given to every Nigerian child, that we would be living peacefully in the country and proper as citizens of Nigeria. Won’t that create further problems for the APC given that there are quite a number of aspirants standing before him?
Atiku’s bid for the ticket of the APC will not cause trouble for anybody and will not generate friction. You are not going to see us attacking any aspirants, because if we attack any aspirant, we will weaken the party; so his conduct will be one of civility, of respect for each contestant. We are hoping that this will be about ideas. We need more aspirants within the APC to put themselves forward for election and Nigerians will choose who they want. This right is guaranteed by both the Constitution of the country and that of the party. So the assumption about other aspirants who have not made a declaration so far is not going to be a problem. The Constitution does not say that the first to aspire gets automatic ticket. In fact, APC wants to show the world that it is different from other parties by not giving automatic ticket to anybody. They don’t have that language in the APC. Atiku has been in the race for decades and some say this portrays him as ‘desperate.’ Does this recent outing not confirm he is desperate to be president?
Atiku does not need to be president, he is only desperate to serve and what is wrong with that? This man feels heavily indebted to the country, he feels Nigeria has been so good to him; as I said, he feels he owes the country and feels he has to give back. He has the vision and nobody can deny the fact that Atiku is the most visionary Nigerian that is alive today and we are where we are today because this country has been condemned to visionless and clueless leaders. Atiku has a vision for building the country. His vision is that the regulatory environment in the country in terms of foreign and local investment will be such that foreigners will bring money and develop the country. You don’t even need government money to develop the country, if the environment is right, investors would come.
With a population of 170 million, Nigeria has a big asset and Atiku is looking at that, there’s nobody in the world that would not wish to bring their money into Africa’s number one economy if there is peace and security for persons and property and he is prepared to guarantee that.
This was how they built Dubai. The father of the present ruler of Dubai, when he called the world and said ‘this is my vision, this is what I want to do,’ people were laughing at him, they said, ‘this desert? Who do you think will want to come here?’ But all of us now want to go there. A friend was telling me this morning that he wanted to go to Dubai and for seven days the planes were fully booked. Nigerians are trooping to Dubai to go and either do business or rest, so why can’t we make others come to Nigeria? The ground rule must change and Atiku is prepared to lead this change, that is the point.