The Presidential Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday, reaffirmed his commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers to states and local governments in the country.
He predicated his position to the inadequacy of presidential system of government currently being operated in the country, which concentrated so much powers at the centre, to the detriment of the federating units.
Atiku stated this in Asaba at the inauguration of some projects executed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration in Delta State.
The projects inaugurated were Koka Flyover and Interchange along Asaba-Benin Expressway; Model Technical College, Asaba; Maryam Babangida Leisure Park, Asaba and Mother and Child Specialist Hospital and Advanced Diagnostics Centre, Owa-Alero, Ika North-East Local Government Area.
The PDP Presidential candidate said that over-concentration of powers at the centre had impeded the nation’s growth, and expressed his willingness to undertake restructuring of the country if elected.
According to the former Vice President, if you look into the books you will see that this Benin-Asaba Expressway is a federal road but the state government has taken over the construction of this project because it is closer to the people of Delta State.
“We borrowed our Presidential system from the United States and in the United States the only federal roads you find are interstate roads that connect one state to another. Other internal roads, bridges and highways are the responsibility of state governments
“It is understandable because it is the military that gave birth to our own presidential system of government and you know how they accumulate too much powers to themselves to the detriment of the federating units.
“I believe that by the time we undertake a fundamental amendment to our constitution to restore the autonomy to the states and local governments as far as resources are concerned, we would have done away with this very huge bottleneck that has impeded our growth infrastructurally and otherwise,” he said.
Atiku commended Okowa and Government of Delta for taking the initiative of restructuring even before it was constitutionally allowed, saying “congratulations Governor Okowa for this huge development that you have undertaken to the benefit of the people of Delta State and Nigerians in general who ply this road daily.”
On the Model Technical College, Atiku called for a review of the educational system in the country to ensure productivity of Nigerians at all levels.
He disclosed that the type of educational system in Northern Nigeria was such that there were no drop-outs.
“The educational system was such that the brightest ones went to the universities; the second group went to the universities also, and the third went to Technical Colleges and the last but not the least, went to what we used to call craft schools.
“In the craft schools we had to learn cattle breeding, carpentry, poultry or even farming, that’s agriculture. When you finished, you were given a capital to start a business.
“So, you see that the educational system did not produce non-performing or what we call unproductive members of the public. Every member of the society was productive. The only thing was that the level of productivity varied from stage to stage.
“No sooner we abandoned the first Republic for the second one, which was the military than all those systems were set aside. We now went to a kind of unitary educational system.
“We now rear and send every child to the university which they were not naturally endowed nor gifted by nature to attend.
“There must be a review of our educational system in such a way that every child is granted opportunities to go to school but of course, should be based on their God-given or natural talent; so that he/she can be useful to the community.
“You will see that in every aspect of our human endeavours, we have our thinking that can move us forward. So I want to thank the Governor for this initiative, even before we have a formal review of our educational system, he has decided to review the educational system in Delta State,” he said.
Atiku commended Okowa for his hardwork, visionary and purposeful leadership, and congratulated the people of the state for having such a great leader.
He said that healthcare was among the 5-point agenda in his policy document and would rely on the competence and experience of Governor Okowa in executing his health policies for the country.
In his remarks, Okowa said that the Koka Flyover and Interchange was conceived and delivered by his administration to provide solution to the traffic gridlock along the Benin-Asaba highway, and expressed optimism that on completion of the dualisation of the Ughelli-Asaba road, the traffic along the Koka corridor would have been completely eliminated.
He said that his administration embarked on revamping of technical education in the state to equip youths with technical skills to make them employers of labour rather than job seekers.
He stated that his administration rehabilitated six existing technical colleges and award contracts for nine new model ones, with three already completed at Asaba, Effurun and Obiaruku.
At Owa-Alero, Okowa said that the Mother and Child Hospital and Advanced Medical Diagnostics Centre was well built, furnished with appropriate staff to improve the health of mothers and children.