•Says every inch of Nigeria’s territory will be secured
•Hints at economic plan, says he’ll pay attention to modern fiscal drivers
•Declares it’s payback time, Atiku should endorse him
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, vowed to deal decisively with all elements threatening the peace, security, and unity of Nigeria, if elected president next year. Tinubu stated this in Kaduna at an interactive session with northern leaders of thought. The forum for presidential candidates was organised by the Joint Northern Committee, comprising Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, Jamiyyar Matan Arewa, Centre for Historical Development Research (Arewa House), and Arewa Research and Documentation Project.
Tinubu also spoke on how he intended to achieve security of life and property in the country, saying under him, every inch of Nigeria’s territory will be defended. He gave his audience some hint as to his economic plans, and stressed that he would pay attention to modern fiscal drivers to realise the change he envisioned for the country.
The former Lagos State governor took sarcastic jabs at the presidential candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, saying the ex-vice president should have endorsed him because he had supported him in the past.
“It’s payback time. Let Atiku endorse me…I supported him in 2007,” Tinubu said.
The APC presidential hopeful assured the gathering that he would personally lead a renewed push to move Nigeria from the status of a nation of potentials to a country of actual accomplishments, as an economic dynamo, if elected as president in 2023.
Aside security, the former governor said economy, power, education, and industrialisation would be given top priority by his administration. The welfare and training needs of security personnel would also be addressed and strengthened, while security institutions would be provided with modern technology and equipment to better position them to respond to contemporary challenges in a fast-changing world, he said.
According to Tinubu, “Under my leadership, the Nigerian military will receive a much-needed injection of trained personnel to strengthen the heroic efforts of the troops that are currently in service. We will deal decisively with all elements threatening our peace, security and unity.
“I guarantee you, we will end kidnapping and banditry, not only through increasing our policing footprint and capacity, but also through other soft approaches that would promote inclusion and boost the economy of our local communities. I assure you, under my leadership, every inch of our national territory will be secured and defended.”
The APC candidate acknowledged that as a result of concerns for the safety of the people, there had been increasing calls for states to be allowed to establish their own police forces. He said, “The issue of state police, just like the larger debate around restructuring, is a constitutional matter that requires consensus-building.”
He contended that, though restructuring meant different things to different people, “it should be noted that my aspiration to lead this country is a testimonial for my strong belief in its unity and indivisibility.”
These, he stated, were matters that required consultation with critical stakeholders, including the Council of State, the legislature, the judiciary, state governments, traditional institutions, and groups.
“We will sustain on-going efforts of increasing the boots on ground commensurate to our geography and population,” he said, stating that his blueprint for growing the economy would explore the abundant natural resources to boost development.
He added, “Nigeria is sitting on a goldmine with abundant natural resources. With strategic investment in research and development and effective management, we will explore and exploit these resources to the fullest.
“There is no local government in Nigeria that has no resource or endowment that can be harnessed for greater economic development.”
A statement yesterday in Abuja by Tinubu’s media office further clarified some of his points. It stressed, “Our economic plan would utilise the vast natural resources we have, through strategic investment in infrastructure, which will lead to the diversification of the economy and wealth creation across the entire country.
“We will pay attention to modern economic drivers, such as the digital economy, creative industries, sports and entertainment sectors, for the benefit of our young people. The APC federal government has taken several measures to build infrastructure and improve the ease of doing business across the country. This has been complemented by the efforts of some of our states to attract investments in diverse sectors of the economy.
“Under my leadership, the Nigerian government will be business-friendly. We shall support private businesses in our country and attract foreign direct investment to create jobs, re-industrialise our country and accelerate economic development. Nigerian businesses in sectors like banking and cement have successfully ventured out of the country to build thriving subsidiaries.
“We will build a strong domestic economy, expand the capacity of our domestic market to support growth and encourage export capacity in the areas of our competitive advantage.
“We have the endowments to be a prosperous country. I will lead a renewed push to move us from the status of a nation of potential into a country of actual accomplishments as an economic dynamo.”
Tinubu also promised to apply his experience in building human capital, which made Lagos one of the largest economies in Africa, to grow the country’s economy to an enviable height.
He stated, “Using my experience of building human capital, industries, and institutions, which has led to Lagos being one of the largest economies on the continent, I will reposition our existing industries and make them a competitive source of industrialisation and growth, not just for the north, but the entire country.
“It is time to fetch water from a dry well and I, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have done it before and I will do it. We will find a way, where there are no roads! I will ensure that we take advantage of our resources to convert cotton to textile, plants to pharmaceutical products, groundnut to edible oil, cassava to ethanol and starch, etc., thereby building competitive advantage for our farmers through value addition.
“I will attract investments and create the enabling environment that will ensure the resurgence of our moribund industries and continue the infrastructure revolution of this administration on the railways and highways all over the country and invest in our inland waterways for safer and efficient transportation to complement this industrialisation vision.”
Tinubu stated that the north had a greater advantage in agriculture and under his presidency, the region would emerge as the hub of agribusiness in Africa through huge investment in the sector, in collaboration with the private sector.
He explained, “Agriculture is of special interest to me. It is both an economic and existential issue for every country. Experience in the last seven years has shown the potentials of agriculture in solving the problem of unemployment and boosting our GDP. For example, recent investment in the rice value chain has led to the springing up of rice mills across the country with attendant wealth creation and a reduction in our import bill.
“The north has greater advantage in this regard due to its large and abundant arable land. My vision is for the region to be the hub of agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa. We will improve investment in our livestock value chain. Specifically, subsectors, like the dairy industry that has the potential of adding billions of dollars into our economy, will receive significant attention.
“In collaboration with the private sector and governments at sub-national levels, we will make available high yield seeds and inputs, invest heavily in post-harvest storage and processing facilities so that we can significantly increase the value of what we produce. To ensure optimising the full value of their produce, we will utilise commodity exchanges to guarantee return on investments, and enhanced wealth for the farmers.”
Tinubu promised to make available funds for research and development to provide the right inputs that would ensure greater yields, while also tackling climatic challenges bedevilling farmers, such as flooding and desertification, through enhancement of national drainage architecture and investment in shelter belts.
Tinubu, who likened climate change to “preventing church rat from eating poisoned holy communion”, argued that finance was critical in his vision for agriculture sector.
He said, “I assure you, I will attract the much-needed investment and re-engineer financing institutions to provide impactful interventions for maximal output.”
He promised to continue to give his best, as president, to ensure the country remained indivisible, with the people achieving greatness together.
Tinubu said Atiku owed him a debt that ought to be discharged ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
He was quoted as saying, “I supported Atiku Abubakar in 2007. Don’t blame me if I ask for the payback, period.
“It’s payback time. Let him endorse me instead of conducting rallies around Kaduna while I’m talking to great people here. Let the credit be enough and pay back in good measure.”