The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has identified election rigging as the biggest corruption facing the country.
He advocated for an election fraud commission as the lasting solution to the problem
Atiku, who spoke yesterday at The Candidate, a political forum where he and his running mate, Peter Obi, were engaged in a question and answer conversation, said the only way to reduce corruption in government ministries is to automate all the processes whereby things can be done without having to see one-on-one with officials.
When faulted on the need to keep setting up commissions to fix Nigeria's problems as past governments did, Atiku said his proposed administration is the only place the political will to deal with the nation's problems is.
He revealed that he once had to lend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) money totalling N300million from the proceeds of privatisation when the then newly formed agency could not take off because there was no money with which it could do so.
The presidential hopeful further claimed to have once lifted 45,000 people out of poverty by approaching a micro-finance bank to empower women with loans in Adamawa State. He said the only way to lift people up from penury is to make women financially independent.
Atiku gave premium to asking corrupt officials to return their stolen loots than prosecuting them as a way to set a moral standard.
Asked if giving corrupt people amnesty so they can bring their stolen funds back to the country is an effective way of fighting corruption, he said he subscribed to the idea so that the money could be used to develop the country.
During the programme aired on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and anchored by Kadaria Ahmed, Atiku promised to reform the judicial sector and to sponsor enabling legislation that will speed up crime investigation and prosecution, if elected.
According to him, the reform would shorten the period of investigation by investigative agencies. "This is a country that is governed by rule of law and you can only use the rule of law to approach issues. Investigative agencies must have a time limit within which to investigate, prosecute and dispense justice."
He argued that if other countries are able to achieve the feat, Nigeria should be able to do the same.
"We are not going to give them statute of limitations, because sometimes in this era of technology, what financial investigation will not be able to do within a specified reasonable period of time, will be done with technology."
When asked about existing cases, Atiku said there would be need for dialogue.
On job creation, Atiku and Obi said if elected, they intended to replicate Bangladeshi model of small and medium scale enterprises to lift at least 50 million Nigerians out of abject poverty.
The PDP presidential standard bearer said contrary to impressions created by his detractors, his wife was neither indicted nor charged for criminal wrong doing by the U.S. in respect of the House of Representatives committee report on the Siemens investigation on bribery.
According to him, the negative comments by his former principal, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, about his qualification for the office of president have been overtaken by the fact that not only has he been the most investigated politician in the country, but also for the fact that the same Obasanjo has announced him as the most qualified for the office.
Obi said he left office with N75billion left in the coffers of Anambra State as a way to prove that he did not misuse the state's fund when he was the governor.
He revealed that their plan to lift Nigerians out of poverty would be unique because their economic plan is going to be private-sector driven. "That is the only plan that is obtainable in the world today."
When asked why he is supporting Atiku since he had always been against those in their 70's for running the government, obi said Nigerians needed someone with experience who can bring the country together.