Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says he made sure Chinwoke Mbadinuju, a former Governor of Anambra State, wasn’t re-elected into office after discovering his indifference to his state’s educational development.
Mbadinuju was Anambra Governor from May 1999 to May 2003 on the PDP platform, but he was controversially denied the party’s governorship ticket in the buildup to the 2003 general election.
Speaking on Wednesday night when he featured on ‘The Candidates’, a presidential town hall co-production between Daria Media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), with support from the MacArthur Foundation and anchored by Kadaria Ahmed, Atiku said Mbadinuju mismanaged the resources allocated to education when he was in charge of Anambra State.
His words: “In any policy that you implement, you are bound to find some mistakes here and there. But in the overall, if you look at the reforms of our government and also the privatisation policy, you’ll find out that it’s a huge success.
“When we were in office, we sent a bill to the National Assembly to make education compulsory for every Nigerian child for primary to secondary education. But you know education is virtually a state in local government affairs and as a result of that legislation, we established the UBE and also imposed taxes. And all these revenue is remitted to states and local governments to help educate these poor Nigerians who cannot get education.
“Eventually, most of this money was mismanaged at the state and local government levels and going through the legislation, I discovered that we made a mistake. We did not have a provision to penalise any level of government, whether state of local governments, if they fail to implement those policies. And I think if I have another opportunity, I will return the law to the National Assembly and say ‘Look, insert a penalty clause. Where a state or local government is given money to invest in public education and it decides not to do, we will have to penalise or take their money and go directly and intervene in the education of those kids’.
“Let me tell you what I did. When I was Vice-President, I took a tour to Anambra State, during the administration of Governor [Chinwoke] Mbadinuju. I found out the public schools were closed for two years. I came back and met the President. I said: ‘Mr. President, this Governor will never be allowed to go back’. He said ‘why?’ I said ‘I found out that all the schools in Anambra State have been overtaken by weeds. For two years, they were not opened.
“Believe me, I made sure Mbadinuju never went back. This is how I feel about education. But for that education, I would not be what I am today.”