Senate President Bukola Saraki says the current administration is trying to implement his blueprint on commercial farming.
A presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Saraki said this when he appeared before the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum at the Abuja residence of Edwin Clark, Ijaw leader.
The man, who presided over the affairs of Kwara state for eight years, said when he spoke on the idea as a governor, he was criticised.
Saraki said government has to create the environment for the private sector to flourish because it cannot do it alone.
“Seventy percent of our population are young people. Government alone cannot take us there,” he said.
“Unless we have a private sector that is q0 times bigger than what it is today, forget it young people will still be roaming around carrying their CV looking for jobs in government that will never come. It will never come because those jobs will never be there.
“The only way they will get jobs is when we have private sector that have ability to create jobs, and to create the investments that will make it happen. Two million barrels a day, with population growing at three percent, is not enough. What you need to do is ensure other sectors, minerals, agriculture, are growing.
“As a governor, I came up and said you must have commercial farming. What I said over seven years ago is what is the blueprint today that the government is trying to adopt. When I said it then, I was attacked. Today, the country is still spending N2 to N3 billion and it will continue to do so.”
Anchor Borrowers programme, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative and Food Security Council are some of the agricultural programmes of the current administration.
The presidential aspirant assured the elders that he has what it takes to turn around the fortunes of the country.
He said leading the country is not a part-time job, insisting the occupant of the highest office must be youthful, energetic, and vibrant.
Saraki said developed democracies are now rushing for capable youthful leaders in order to compete favourably with other countries.
“Where we are as a country today is too serious for us to take lightly. The Nigeria that we have today have never been so disunited,” he said.
“When you go to many parts of the country, people will tell you ‘Do I truly belong? Are we part of this country called Nigeria? On top of that, over a number of years, we have seen series of impunity. People are not held accountable. There is no inclusiveness in government. There is insensitivity and lack of empathy.
“So the first thing that is key to us is how do we unite this country. What kind of president can unite this country? Lack of insensitivity, these are the issues that are driving suspicion, pulling us apart. Anything else we talk, development e.t.c can’t happen unless we bring everybody back.
“As such, he must somebody that can represent, somebody in any part of the country can say ‘I think he represents Nigeria’, ‘I think he will be fair to me whether I’m a Christian or Muslim’, ‘I think he will be fair to me whether I’m a northerner or southerner’. That gives us an opportunity of a platform to move forward.
“Secondly, more importantly, I think what has been one of our major problem is capacity. I think over the years we have voted on sentiments. We have left capacity and ability, and used sentiments to decide who leads us. That is why we are where we are today.
“But we need Mr. President that has the capacity, that has the vision that can drive and perform. Without capacity on the part of the leadership, Nigeria cannot progress even though God has continued to blessed the nation. There is no country that can provide for its people, take them out of poverty the way we are going about it.
“If it is about the work, my leaders, I know I am very competent and I know what needs to be done to put this country on the right path.
“I have shown my experience, apart from my eight years and Chairman Nigeria Governors Forum, I have shown what makes people work together. I have also shown that in the senate in the last three years, which has 18 former governors, despite all the efforts of the government.
“I believe I have been able to show leadership and capacity. It’s okay for us to say we want to get rid of Mr. President. By getting rid of Mr. President, we might not fix Nigeria. I don’t think we want to get rid of Mr. President without fixing Nigeria.
“So, we must find a candidate that must fix this country. I have the capacity that is required to turn this country around. This time around I believe we must go for capacity.”