Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who recently resigned from the All Progressive Congress (APC), has described himself as a rebel, just as he urged Nigerians never to allow the word “rule” to be used in Nigeria’s democratic process.
Atiku made this remark on Thursday night in Lagos at the 2017 Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs conference titled: “Networking with the Giants,” where he received an award.
“For me, I am a rebel. Never should the word ‘rule’ be a term in our democratic process. You all must be governed because you must participate in that process. For me, I will not accept to be ruled, but I will accept to be governed,” he said while responding to an earlier statement by one of the speakers, Mr. Fela Durotoye.
Atiku, who received the award of African Outstanding Entrepreneur at the ceremony, urged his audience to imbibe the entrepreneurial spirit as those from the South-east, saying Nigerians should not be known for drugs and fraudsters, but for business and enterprise.
He dedicated the award to Wizkid, for winning the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) awards, as well as youths in Nigeria.
Abubakar took his audience through how he started his business as a young Customs officer when he came to Lagos in 1969, just as he stressed the need for entrepreneurs to be resilient.
“Sometimes, entrepreneurship is not something you must be trained to do. You must have ingenuity to be an entrepreneur.
“It may come to a point where you may need training,” he said.
He argued that the educational system Nigeria operated in the first republic provided students the opportunity to either go to the universities, polytechnics, farming, or whatever they wanted to do.
“Suddenly, Nigeria moved away from that system of education, to a system where you train only job seekers.
“They don’t know how to do anything else other than to seek for job. So, what I am trying to say is that my Nigeria is possible, and your Nigeria is also possible.
“The United Nations projected that by January 2018, Nigeria would have more people in poverty. Can you imagine that! What can we do to combat this challenge? My submission is that education, entrepreneurship, foreign direct investment.
“Currently Nigeria’s out of school population is projected at 10 million while that of India is projected at 1.8 million, even though they have eight times our population. Why is it so?” he queried.
According to Abubakar, without adequate investments in education, “there is no way the country can combat poverty.”
“My parents didn’t want me to go to school. I was forcefully removed from our home and taken to school.
“When my father tried to resist my going to school, he was arrested and fined. He couldn’t pay the fine and he was imprisoned. That was how I went to school,” he said, while stressing the need to make education compulsory for children.
Atiku said: “We must entrench entrepreneurship in our educational curriculum. In the university that I established, in whatever course you are doing, be it law, engineering, it is compulsory for you to take entrepreneurship.
“That is why most of our students who have passed out have created jobs themselves. We must have a paradigm shift in our educational system.
“Life does not give you guarantee. It only gives you opportunities and there are numerous opportunities in Nigeria. But we need an educational system that would be centred on those opportunities.”
Earlier, while making his presentation, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce told his listeners, who were majorly youth, that having Atiku Abubakar in the conference was an opportunity for them to be in the company of Nigeria’s next president.
Murray-Bruce bemoaned the failure of leadership in the country.
He added: “In discussing the budget, what shocked me was that the people who prepared the budget just copied last year’s budget and pasted it in the current year budget.
“How many of you will employ some of the people in government today to work for you? They don’t have talent. You take a guy, who had never signed a cheque of more than N3 million all his life and you put him in charge of a ministry with a budget of N3 billion.
“Apart from faint and getting drunk when he gets there, he does nothing else. How can someone that has never ran a business all his life run an economy?
“The word change is very popular, and everybody uses it all the time, but nobody really likes change. Do you know the only person that likes change? It’s a baby who needs a diaper change.
“Most people don’t like it and that is the biggest problem that we have. We need to try people who have created wealth, people who have created job.
“If all of you vote Atiku Abubakar, we can make a difference. Nigeria can no longer have an accidental president. You must want the job, you have to desire the job and say you need this job. And if you don’t do it.”