Atiku promises amnesty to looters willing to return stolen funds

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*Atiku, Obi

Ime Akpan

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Atiku Abubakar, has promised to grant pardon to treasury looters in exchange for return of stolen funds to grow the economy.

Speaking yesterday on The Candidates, a live programme for presidential candidates in the 2019 general elections hosted by Kadaria Ahmed on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Atiku who featured alongside his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi, was asked if he would consider amnesty to people who have corruption cases.

Responding, Atiku said: Why not? “Why not? I give you an example of Turkey. Turkey gave amnesty and all the monies taken abroad were brought back and the government said when you bring the money back, you don’t need to pay taxes. Invest in manufacturing, technology and real estate.

“And look at Turkey today. It is like any other European country today. It worked for Turkey. We can implement that and I have considered it.

Besides, he said he would reform the judiciary and agencies charged with checking corruption by making sure there is timely legislation as quick law making will make prosecution faster.

He said corruption had been an impediment to the growth of the country, disclosing other means through which he intends to fight corruption.

For his part, Obi argued that amnesty for looters to develop critical sectors of the economy was better than encouraging defection by corrupt politicians to another party and making the new party a safe haven for looters.

On the herdsmen-farmers clashes, the PDP presidential candidate said the solution to crisis is to enlighten the herdsmen on staying in a place to feed their herds rather than grazing all about.

He said the problem is not peculiar to Nigeria as America was once faced a similar situation.

On corruption allegations against him and his wife, Atiku said he is the most investigated public officer in the country who had never been found wanting.

He also refuted fraud allegation against his wife saying his wife had never been indicted or accused of such offence.

“My wife has not been indicted and she has not been charged, so there is no way you can hold her accountable, she has been traveling to America very often,” he added.

On poverty in his home state, Adamawa, Atiku said as one of the two main employers of labour in Adamawa State, he was not responsible for the perceived high poverty rate in the state.

He said he had, at a certain time lifted 45,000 out of poverty by approaching a micro-finance bank to empower Adamawa women with loans.

“A few years ago, I set up a microfinance bank and I brought in someone from Bangladesh and you know they are the best in the world in that area. I told him I wanted to lift people out of poverty and I want you to dedicate 80 per cent of your loans to women. You know how many persons I was able to lift out of poverty? 45, 000,” he said.

He lamented the dearth of middle class in the country, blaming President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for the collapsed of the middle class.

He stated that the only way to lift people out of penury is to make women financially independent adding that “the middle class needs to be helped so that others can be lifted up.”

Also contributing to the issue, Obi said the plan to lift Nigerians out of poverty “is different because their economic plan is going to be private-sector driven as that is the only plan that is obtainable in the world today.

He said China grew using the same plan and that “it is definitely going to work in Nigeria.”

On the issue of crossing parties at whim, Obi said there is nothing wrong in abandoning parties like he left the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

“If a vehicle cannot get you to your desired destination, there is no reason in switching to the one that can,” he said.

On what distinguishes the PDP from the All Progressives Congress (APC) Obi said “the people who are left in PDP are clean; the corrupt ones have all run to the APC for protection,” stressing that “the present government has encouraged instances where those who were found guilty of corruption were forgiven just because they switched party to APC.”

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