Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, has denied saying he will hand over federal universities to state governments if elected president in 2023.
Speaking through his media aide, Paul Ibe, the former vice president clarified a statement he made on Monday at the opening session of the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference, NBA-AGC, holding in Lagos.
According to Ibe, Atiku’s statement on the challenges facing the country’s education sector was misinterpreted by the media.
“The report is false, untrue, unfounded and not a true reflection of what Atiku Abubakar said while responding to a question on devolution of powers, a key component of his policy framework.
“What the PDP presidential candidate referred to was his plans for a phased devolution of power to the federating units.
“The report in some sections of the media is, therefore, a misleading and false account of what transpired when the PDP presidential candidate fielded questions as a panelist at the opening ceremony of the NBA conference,” Ibe said.
Abubakar merely recalled his engagement with a university professor on the ongoing strike by university lecturers.
“Abubakar argued that the United States of America shared similarities with the first set of universities in Nigeria which belonged to the regional governments,” he said, adding that with proper planning and phased devolution of power, federal universities which aren’t functioning properly can be made to work better under the federating units.
“Abubakar also maintained that education would remain in the concurrent list under his administration when elected,” Ibe said, stressing that the reports were clearly misleading and designed to cast aspersion on the person of Atiku.
“We wish to restate Abubakar’s avowed commitment to education as a game changer for socio-economic development and national security.
“He remains concerned about the prolonged strike by university teachers. He restates his position that under his watch the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) – Federal Government imbroglio will be better managed in the interest of both the students and academic staff,” the aide said.