The city of Aba which for ages has been recognized as the SME capital of Africa, played host to Atiku and his candidacy, as he reeled out plans to get Nigeria working again. Atiku has been known across Nigeria as an entrepreneur, even before he was known as a politician. This meeting offered him the opportunity to interact with the attendees on the pressing issues in the field of manufacturing, seeing that he plans to throw all his weight on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, by making substantial loans available at minimal interest rates.
The Nigeria manufacturers have long suffered a heavy backlash of the inadequacy of the Buhari-led FG policies on manufacturing. Seeing how the exchange rate has fluctuated over time from 155 Naira in 2013 to 365 in 2018, the manufacturers have become even poorer as a result. Some of the concerns included unavailability of sustainable loans for manufacturing. The manufacturers lamented government support for the SMEs.
Earlier this year, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar released his campaign manifesto titled Getting Nigeria Working Again. Indeed, he believes that Nigeria worked for him and in his policy document, he ensures to state how he will achieve a sustained increase in manufacturing output by 2025. In fact, he is sure that the manufacturing sector contribution to GDP will increase from 9% to 30%, after the large-scale loans his administration will make available to SMEs at a sustainable cost. Atiku is interested in the diversification of the production sector with Nigeria being able to do most of its processing itself.
Concerning the African Trade Agreement (AFCTA), Alhaji Abubakar was in vehement support of the deal, citing how Nigerian goods reach as far as Sudan, and how the deal will create even more opportunities for Nigerian traders and manufacturers. In his words “I am sure I will not sign off on something that will not favor Nigerians.”
Mr. Peter Obi, the VP aspirant on the platform of the PDP was clear on the objectives of the PDP to get Nigeria working again, seeing that the party gave its candidacy to two traders, two manufacturers and two leaders. Other attendees, like the PDP Chairman; Prince Uche Secondus, Governor of Abia State; Okezie Ikpeazu and Chairman of MAN, spoke of how they see the light in Atiku Abubakar. As a result, the body endorsed the presidency of Atiku Abubakar, holding him accountable to his words and plans. The highlight of the meeting was how the manufacturers opened up emotionally to the aspirants, knowing that they understand the pains of traders, business people, and manufacturers since they themselves are manufacturers creating more than 50,000 jobs for Nigerians.