… Chatham House hosts APC candidate
•El- Rufai, Wale Edun, Gbajabiamila, Ayade, Alake, Beta Edu speak
All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday spoke on how he will tackle insecurity and reposition the economy if elected in next year’s election.
He also emphasised that under his administration, Nigeria will maintain its leadership role of advancing democratic values in the West Africa sub-region, in the continent and in the world.
The former Lagos State governor reiterated his commitment to the sanctity of the ballot box, saying the next crop of leaders should evolve from free, fair, democratic and transparent elections.
Tinubu highlighted his plans for Nigeria at the Chatham House, London, while delivering a lecture titled: “Nigeria’s 2023 election: Security, economy and foreign policy imperatives.”
He was accompanied to the United Kingdom’s elite foreign and policy think-tank institution by members of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, including governors, members of the National Assembly and other key party stalwarts.
At the session, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy Dele Alake, one-time Lagos State Commissioner for Finance Wale Edun and National Women Leader Dr. Beta Edu shed light on Tinubu’s manifesto, ‘Renewed Hope for 2023,’ particularly those aspects related to their areas of competence.
The eminent politician was accompanied by Governors Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Abubakar Badaru, (Jigawa) and David Umahi (Ebonyi); former Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, ex-Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole; Deputy National Women Leader Hajiya Zainab Ibrahim, former Lagos State Deputy Governor Chief Femi Pedro, Senator Tokunbo Abiru, Senator Fatai Buhari and Senator Adeola Olamilekan.
Also in the entourage were Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, former Ogun State Deputy Governor Segun Adesegun, Hadiza Bala-Usman and Alhaji Mutiu Are.
It was his second visit to Chatham House, having participated in a lecture there in 2011.
Exuding confidence, Tinubu demonstrated a mastery of governance principles, the challenges of the post-Buhari period and how to tackle them.
The APC candidate said: “I have confidence that the Nigerian people will go to polls in a few short months and give me their mandate.”
His address was intermittently punctuated by thunderous applause from dignitaries who were captivated by his candour and the message.
While introducing Tinubu, the chairman of the event, Dr. Alex Vines, described him as a prominent politician who is no stranger to the House.
Referring to the fake news by opponents that the candidate was denied a US visa, Vines, who is also the Managing Director, Ethics, Risk and Resilience of Chatham House, and Director Africa Programme, said: “He(Tinubu) has a US visa.”
Shortly before the commencement of the lecture, a few subjective protesters, led by Reno Omokiri, stormed the venue to demonstrate against Tinubu.
However, they were overwhelmed by the presence of APC faithful and supporters, who sang the popular caucus song: “On your mandate we stand, Bola.”
After the lecture, the APC standard bearer had an interaction with the APC UK chapter.
‘We’ll tackle insecurity from the roots’
Tinubu lamented that insecurity has persisted despite the remarkable progress achieved by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He said if elected, he will tackle the crisis so that Nigeria can also effectively provide security support for its neighbouring nations.
Tinubu said: “The challenges which have manifested themselves with regard to our national and regional development and security trajectories are very well-known to all of us here: radical extremist violence, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, human trafficking, trafficking in weapons, trafficking in drugs, climate change and resource-driven conflicts etc.
“Mostly manifesting initially as national problems, these challenges evolved over time into trans-border and multinational challenges.
“We see the thousands of people who have been internally displaced at home or forced into refugee camps abroad. With farming activities disrupted, we have seen shortages of basic food items and food price inflation that are further undermining human security.
“To respond meaningfully to the discontents and to redress the many dislocations arising from them, we must begin by reminding ourselves of that old dictum: Foreign policy is but a continuation of domestic policy.
“As a first step, we must recalibrate domestic policy in order to revamp the foundation on which our quest to pursue human security rests.”
‘Power outage will end’
Tinubu identified regular electricity as the key to economic revitalisation and industrial growth, promising to improve the framework already in place for boosting energy generation and distribution.
He said: “Fixing the perennial riddle of energy supply is another priority. There is no version of the world where Nigeria’s ambitions for itself can be achieved without solving the problem of how to provide energy to homes and businesses across the country.
“It is time to recognise that the centralised approach to energy policy and infrastructure is not an optimal arrangement and is unlikely to improve by mere tinkering around the sides.
“The Federal Government as regulator and operator, and price fixer is a broken model and one that we fully intend to fix if elected.
“We have privatised power distribution in Nigeria and generation to a certain degree. What we need to do, going forward, is to improve the enabling environment and further reform the legal and regulatory framework to attract more private investments in the sector as we have experienced in the telecom industry.”
Acknowledging the place of agriculture in economic development, Tinubu said: “The present administration has invested heavily in agriculture, providing loans and expanding the country’s total acreage of cultivated land.
“We will build on this, but our focus will be on using technology and expertise to accelerate growth and development by providing the critical infrastructure necessary to achieve the commodity transformations in the agriculture value chain.”
Read Also: I’m confident Nigerians will vote for me, I’m ready to lead — Tinubu
He added: “Roads, rail, access to ports, and storage infrastructure are what we require to radically transform the agriculture sector and increase its value to the nation.
“Providing these will be the areas of our focus so that the full potential of our agro-economy can be achieved, and we can reap the benefits in jobs, improved economic opportunities and increased prosperity.”
‘Economic to be driven by private sector’
Tinubu promised to engage the private sector to drive economic development.
He said: “My belief that the private sector is the fulcrum of economic progress is evident and documented.
“However, fundamental flaws with the basic design of our national economy imperil the private sector from playing the role it ought to and adding the value it is capable of.
“In this instance, the government must act as a catalyst. We shall do this on all fronts. We will address the conflict between monetary and fiscal policies.
“Budgeting will be based on the projected spending levels needed to push real annual growth rate above seven per cent while reducing the unemployment rate so that we can double the economy in ten years.”
To Tinubu, Nigeria, which has experienced democratic rule for 23 years, should continue to be a beacon of hope to the continent and West Africa sub-region.
He said Nigeria will continue to lead by example in free and fair elections devoid of violence, emphasising that the will of the people should always prevail.
Tinubu stressed: “I stand firmly against all forms of electoral violence and intimidation. Having spent most of my career in the political opposition, I have long fought against electoral malpractice and any attempts to extinguish the legitimate choice of voters. I will continue to do so.
“I urge all my fellow contestants in this election to do the same. Let the sovereign will of the people decide the path of our nation. And let this election be determined by voters making their choice freely rather than the domineering intimidation of the troublesome few.”
Drawing a link between peace in Nigeria and political stability in the sub-region, which is troubled by military intervention, Tinubu said the country must always be its brother’s keeper.
He said: “The Nigerian elections of 2023 are coming up at a time when the country’s immediate geographical neighbourhood of West and Central Africa is undergoing serious political turmoil that has manifested itself in the incursion of the military to power in a number of countries.
“In spite of the legitimate concerns being expressed by observers, Nigerians are resolutely committed to democracy, regardless of their political differences.”
On his age and identity, Tinubu said his birthday was March 29, 1952, adding that his records are with his alma mater, Chicago State University, United States, and Mobil Oil, where he worked as treasurer.
He said: “At the time of birth, I was born march 29, 1952 in the family record.
“I have good exposure in life, my record is consistent. For the school and university I attended, the records are there. The transcript is also there.
“I’m not claiming another father, I am Tinubu and Tinubu proper. If they want DNA, they can as well request that. Chicago State University where I graduated has attested to that (education).
“I’ve received my original replacement certificate from them. Deloitte trained me, and Mobil Oil has also attested to my record. I got to the pinnacle of my career. Who among them can brag about that?
“You want to wrestle with the pig, you need to live with dirt. I got into politics knowing that it is muddy water, one has to live with the dirt.
“I see myself as a marketable individual. They want to use me to make money, and I say no.”
On youth development, he said youths were part of today and the future, adding that the country should invest in them.
He singled out Sanwo-Olu, who he described as a youth running the 5th largest economy in Africa and building on his legacies as former governor of Lagos State.
No assurance on Diaspora voting
Tinubu, who said that Nigerians in the Diaspora should be entitled to vote, noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was yet to give an assurance that the electronic transmission of election results is reliable.
On his plans for diaspora voting, he said: “If you make contributions to the economy with the remittances that you are making, your right to vote should not be abrogated but promoted.
“However, we are still building confidence in our democratic and voting system. INEC is still yet to assure us during this election that electronic transmission; the technology being used for accreditation, and the total votes count is reliable, dependable and assuring in our democratic process before we introduce a complicated element of the ballot.”
Demonstrating his team spirit, Tinubu asked El-Rufai, Ayade, Alake and Edu to respond to questions that fell within their areas of core competence.
El-Rufai: How to restore security
El-Rufai, who answered questions on security, stated that banditry, terrorism, separatism, and oil theft require a new approach including increasing the number of security operatives.
“The numbers must change and the Bola Tinubu administration already has a blueprint which is embedded in our action plan to address this.
“We will scale up the numbers of the armed forces. We’ll ramp up not only the numbers but the training and the equipment,” the Kaduna governor said.
Alake answered the question of how Tinubu plans to lift Nigerians out of poverty if elected and also curb oil theft in six months. “The key to his policy for increasing economic growth is to enable the private sector to make the investment that will increase productivity, grow the economy, create jobs, and reduce poverty,” he said.
Gbajabiamila responded to the question on the strategies of Tinubu on defence; the APC national women’s leader answered the question on healthcare delivery, and how to convert brain drain into a gain for the country, amongst others.
Tinubu has a bright chance at the poll, says Alake
Alake, who was also featured on Channels Television Politics Today, yesterday said Tinubu’s public engagement has exposed those peddling falsehoods about his health.
Alake said from the reviews gotten so far were positive, and the engagement has shown that Tinubu is flawless and faultless.
He also explained why Tinubu also asked his team members to answer questions, saying that was one of the attributes of a good leader.
He said: “The engagement of our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been inviting, reinvigorating, superlative and reassuring.
“Tinubu has disproved all the naysayers. Asiwaju has been applauded and commended by all and sundry. All the reviews we have gotten so far are positive. He was flawless and faultless in his delivery.”
On Tinubu’s team spirit, Alake said: “Delegating people on his team to answer questions was one of the innovations of Tinubu.
“Don’t forget that one of his main strengths has been identifying talents and head-hunting of the highest order.
“Asiwaju is a team builder and that is what he has been showcasing. Again, Asiwaju has shown that he is a leader.
“So, those who fault that style of leadership are ignorant of the nuance and dynamics of leadership. Leadership is not a one-man show.”
Alake noted that some of his opponents were trying to copy Tinubu, but said they can’t get it because they don’t have a team like Tinubu.
“Asiwaju spoke directly for 28 minutes without anyone aiding him. When it was question and answer time, he displayed the dexterity of his team, which is one of the hallmarks of successful leadership.”
Alake, who disclosed that in due course, Tinubu will engage some media houses, however, maintained that the party’s candidate will not succumb to any form of blackmail.
He said: “Tinubu will be engaging with some journalists with time. But our candidate will not subject himself to any blackmail by a section of the media, which arrogates to itself self-importance.”