I may attend national dialogue if invited-Atiku

Semiu Salami
Semiu Salami

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says he has no objection to the proposed National dialogue and will “consider’’ attending if invited.

Abubakar disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja on the sidelines of a reception organised by the Spanish Embassy in Nigeria to mark the country’s national day.

The former vice-president, who was among the dignitaries that attended the event held at the residence of Alvaro Aguilar, the Spanish ambassador, however, expressed concern at the timing of the conference.

“My worry is about the timing of the national dialogue, it’s too close to electioneering and I’m wondering whether we have the capacity to manage very sensitive issues.

“Electioneering in Nigeria can be a very sensitive and controversial issue and in addition to that you now have a national dialogue, otherwise I do not have any serious objection to it,’’ he said.

Abubakar suggested that the dialogue should consider the restructuring of the country, devolution of powers and increase revenue allocation to the state and local governments.

“I will like to see more powers to the components of the country. I will like to see the power at the centre considerably reduced as well as the responsibility and money allocated to the centre,’’ he said.

On the issue of the tenure for the president and governors, the former vice-president argued that the current two- term, provided for in the constitution, be maintained.

He congratulated the government and people of Spain on the occasion of their National day.

“I look forward to a more strengthened relationship between Spain and Nigeria and I believe that our relationship has been very good.

“I will like to see more Spanish investment even though the country is going through very difficult economic times, we hope for more increased investment’’.

Earlier, Aguilar described Nigeria as a “strategic partner with Spain.”

He recalled that, “in 2012, 16 per cent of the gas and 14 per cent of petroleum consumed in Spain came from Nigeria adding that the financial exchange between the two countries rose to more than seven billion euros.

He also described the interest of Spanish business community into Nigeria as “growing’’ and noted that the volume of investments and exports from Spain recorded an impressive increase of 25 per cent in 2012.

The ambassador reiterated Spain’s support and solidarity to Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.

According to him, the Spanish government has issued six official statements this year to condemn different terrorist attacks by insurgents in Nigeria.

Aguilar pledged that Spain would continue to promote peace, regional integration and stability in West Africa.

“Since 2006, Spain had made donations of more than 900 million euro to West Africa and our commitment is reflected in the areas of food security, rural development, migration, infrastructure, renewable energy and gender,’’ he said.

A major highlight of the celebrations was a traditional display of Spanish tap dance by a duo.
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