Tinubu to Northern leaders: I’ll champion indivisible, prosperous Nigeria
By TANKO ALI
…Jagaban vows to build on Buhari’s infrastructural revolution
… promises to make North hub of agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa
…lays out plans for recovering out-of-school children
All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, caught the attention of all as he shared his blueprint for Nigeria’s development in his interaction with the Arewa Joint Committee at Arewa House, Kaduna on Monday.
Asiwaju Tinubu who has continued to enjoy massive support from the North, praised past leaders of the country including Nigeria’s late Premier of the region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Nigeria first and only Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe for being visionary leaders who gave their all to nation-building.
Before addressing the Northern leaders, he first visited the tomb of the late Saudauna of Sokoto who he prayed for, for his invaluable sacrifice to the North and country.
Riding on the wings of the heroes of Nigeria’s independence and history, Tinubu said he would continue to give his best even as president to ensure the country remains indivisible, achieving greatness together as one.
“As I said when I chaired the Sardauna Memorial Lecture, last year, I have a solemn feeling of responsibility and duty to our country every time I am here. Standing here evokes memories of a great leader and a father of this nation, the Late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the late Sardauna of Sokoto. The contributions of the Sardauna to nation-building remain a reference point for us all. He was a visionary builder of men and institutions.
“The dream of Sardauna, and indeed that of our other great leaders such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and our first and only prime minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was for one indivisible and prosperous nation built on shared values of patriotism, equity, justice and brotherhood.
“It is therefore no coincidence that at Independence this vison was clearly laid out and encapsulated in our first National Anthem. It says: ‘Though tribes and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.’
“This is a strong statement which acknowledges our diversity, and, therefore, existence of different perspectives and interests, and how that should not stand on the path of our unity as brothers.
“The framers of this anthem, God rest their souls, will cringe to know that 62 years after, someone would come to this hallowed platform to campaign on the basis of tribe or where others come from.
“The dream of those forefathers, ladies and gentlemen, was for a nation ‘Where no man is oppressed’, a nation ‘with peace and plenty’, and these – unity in diversity, peace and prosperity – are the fulcrum of my mission in this contest. They also form the bulk of my address to you this afternoon, in line with the areas the organisers wanted me to address,” Tinubu said.
Speaking on his plans for Nigeria as president, the Jagaban Borgu promised to consolidate on the investments of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in all sectors of the nation to build on the successes recorded.
He said his administration would, just like he did upon assumption as Lagos State Governor, bring out workable policies to ensure that insecurity is nipped in the bud in the North and across the country.
The former Lagos State Governor noted that the whole country is endowed with resources that can be harnessed for greater economic development. He said he would focus on tackling underinvestment and effective management.
“Our economic plan would utilize 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 focus on using his experience of building human capital, which made Lagos one of the largest economies in Africa to grow the nation’s economy to an enviable height.
“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 industrialization 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 infrastructural 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 industrialization vision,” he said.
Tinubu further noted that the North has a greater advantage in agriculture and under his presidency, the region will emerge as the hub of agribusiness in Africa through huge investment in the sector in collaboration with the private sector.
He said, “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 optimizing the full value of their produce, we will utilize Commodity Exchanges to guarantee return on investments, and enhanced wealth for the farmers.
“We will make available funds for research and development to provide the right inputs that will ensure greater yields, and tackle climatic challenges bedevilling farmers such as flooding and desertification through enhancement of national drainage architecture and investment in shelter belts.
“Financing is critical to our vision for the agricultural sector. I assure you; I will attract the much-needed investment and re-engineer financing institutions to provide impactful interventions for maximal output.”
On his plans for education and helping reduce the out of school children in the North, the APC presidential flagbearer said, “Education is the most effective weapon against poverty. Comparative with other countries, education in Nigeria suffers from funding deficit on account of our population and limited resources. I will provide the required leadership and mobilize investment for the development of the sector. We will work with both states and local governments to reform and retool the system. These reforms will give special attention to the welfare and training of our teachers and lecturers as necessary catalyst for the better system we desire.
“We will work with stakeholders to evolve creative solutions to the funding needs of our higher education that will bring terminal end to challenges of funding and the attendant perennial industrial actions.
To ease financing for basic education and expand access, we will cut down on the counterpart fund required by states to access UBEC grants to an affordable percentage.
“Millions of our children are currently roaming the streets instead of being in classrooms.
My administration will invest heavily in infrastructure to allow for proper integration of these children into our conventional schools.
“Thankfully, the current APC government has rolled out several initiatives, in partnership with development partners, to provide alternative access to education and vocation to this particular demographic.
“I am aware that already the Federal Government has secured funding from our development partners to support states to address the problem through the following initiatives:
- BESDA, funded by the World Bank, with $600m
- Bilingual Education, funded by the Islamic Development Bank, with $100m
- Out of School Children Programme, jointly funded by World Bank, UNICEF and Islamic Development Bank, with $500m
- AGILE, funded by the World Bank, with $750m.
“These initiatives amount to $2.95 billion of funding secured by the current APC government to assist a comprehensive solution to the problem of out of school children. There is another basket of UBEC funds amounting to N160billion available to support basic education across the country.
“I wish to assure you that the we will build on this so that ours will be a country that educates every child, a country that gives every child equal opportunity to be a globally competitive citizen.”
The event was attended by leaders from Northern Nigeria across party lines, academics, civil society and youth organisations. With Tinubu at the event are APC Governors from the north including the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufa, Solomon Lalong, the Director General of the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, others are Governors of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, Yobe State Governor, Mai Bala Buni and Zamfara, Bello Matawalle. Former APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole also attended with Hadiza Bala Usman, Deputy Director General of the campaign council.