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2023 presidential debate: Atiku, Kwankwaso, Obi lock horns


By Sunday Ani

Presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and that of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, on Sunday told Nigerians what each of would do for the country if given the chance to become president in 2023.

The candidates spoke during the Arise News Presidential Town Hall series coordinated from Abuja and Lagos studios of the television station respectively.

On what they would do to arrest the ugly security situation in the country, they all agreed that the level of insecurity in the country was unacceptable and must be addressed if the country must make any meaningful progress. They all agreed that the country’s security architecture must be restructured in such a way that more personnel and more funding must be deployed into the sector. They also agreed that there must be special training and retraining of the personnel to be able to respond in emergency situations and secure the country adequately.

On what they should do to reverse medical tourism which has become a norm for political leaders in Nigeria, Atiku promised to strengthen the private health sector by providing incentives to investors in that sector because according to him, those who travel out for medical treatment patronize private hospitals, not public hospitals.

Kwankwaso said his government would endeavour to meet the international best practice by encouraging private sector investors in order to build confidence. “Foreign medical trips will not be acceptable because as long as leaders embark on medical tourism, everybody will continue to do the same thing,” he said.

On his part, Obi said he would increase the investment in the primary health sector by training more personnel, building more primary health centres, equipping them to make them accessible and affordable to the majority of Nigerians.

He noted that for the secondary health care, the country needs insurance as it is done in advanced countries of the world.

He also stated that those aspiring to lead should make their health status public. He stated that as a governor in Anambra State, he resuscitated the health facilities and used them. “I still use them because I believe in them. They are very competent,” he added.

On the crisis in the education sector including the perennial ASUU strikes, they all agreed that an increase in funding would do the magic.

But Obi noted that apart from adequate funding, close monitoring of the funds deployed in that sector should be increased to avoid waste and mismanagement. He said he has performed the magic in Anambra and he was prepared to replicate the same if he becomes the president.

Atiku agreed that more funding is needed but stressed that the bottlenecks involved in getting the approved funds to the university must be removed.

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