By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis, Victor Ayeni, Segun Adewole and Damilola Aina
•Atiku appeals to Lagos voters
•Tinubu accuses opponents of playing dirty politics
The presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress in the 2023 general elections, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Monday took his campaign to London, United Kingdom, where he revealed his plans to rebuild the nation’s economy, security and foreign policy if elected as president.
This came as the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, stormed Lagos and urged Lagosians to change the APC government which he said had been dominated by one family.
Tinubu, who spoke at the Chatham House in London, shared his thoughts during an addressed titled “Nigeria’s 2023 elections: Security, economic and foreign policy imperatives.”
He said, “The challenges which have manifested themselves with regard to our national and regional development, as well as 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.”
Tinubu was accompanied to the lecture by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Abubakar Bello (Niger), Ben Ayade (Cross Rivers), Abubakar Badaru, (Jigawa), David Umahi (Ebonyi) as well as the former governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and ex-National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
Others were former deputy governor of Lagos State, Chief Femi Pedro; former Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Dele Alake; PCC Finance Director, Olawale Edun; Senator Tokunbo Abiru, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, former deputy governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Adesegun, Hadiza Bala-Usman and a Lagos APC chieftain, Alhaji Mutiu Are.
The APC candidate also reiterated his desire to consolidate the gains of the current administration, especially in the area of agriculture and infrastructure.
Tinubu also expressed willingness to engage the private sector actively if he wins the February 25, 2023 presidential poll.
He stated, “I guess my name is Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the current president is Muhammadu Buhari. There is nowhere in the constitution that says the current administration can’t be in continuity. This doesn’t mean removal from adaptation to my own developmental policies. I did it in Lagos.
“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.”
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.”
The former Lagos State governor also unveiled plans to fix the energy sector crisis.
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.”
In a related development, Kaduna State governor, El-Rufai, spoke on how Tinubu presidency could tackle the perennial challenge of insecurity and shortage of manpower in the country.
El-Rufai, who was delegated by Tinubu to react to a question raised on Nigeria’s security issue, expressed concerns that the problem goes beyond economic activities.
He said, “Security has been a big issue in Nigeria in the last few years and that has affected not only real economics but agricultural production, commerce and everything else. The Bola Tinubu administration will address these challenges in at least three ways.
“First, policing, Nigeria has about 300, 000 policemen for a population of over 200 million. We need at least twice that number. That will be achieved by amending the constitution so that policing can be at the federal, state and community level.
“With an increased security footprint, there will be fewer criminal activities. The second step is to look at our armed forces and security architecture. Nigeria’s armed forces are not more than 200,000 in size including the Army, Navy and Air force while some countries are looking at a space military, we are struggling with just 200,000 members of the armed forces.
“The numbers, equipment, skills and training of the armed forces will be scaled up, it will be increased rapidly to meet the asymmetric nature of the security challenges that we face. This is because today, the armed forces are not fighting with other countries. They are fighting with non-state actors and the doctrine, training and numbers must change.
“In 1967, the total size of the Nigerian army was only 10,000 because of the civil war. Within a year, we ramped it up to 250,000 so it can be done and what we are facing in Nigeria today-banditry, terrorism and oil theft-requires a new approach. We will ensure that our country is not only internally safe but also not a threat to our neighbours.
“Thirdly, the issue of proliferation of small arms following the collapse of Libya, which is by no means fault of ours, will have to be addressed through collaboration with countries like Mali, Niger, Sudan and Chad. This has already started but will be deepened under the leadership of a new security team under the Bola Tinubu administration.”
Atiku arrives Lagos
Meanwhile, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, urged Lagos residents to liberate themselves from the rule of a family government and replace it with the people’s government by voting for the party in the forthcoming elections.
The former vice president spoke on Monday during the PDP presidential campaign rally held at the Tafawa Balewa Square on Lagos Island.
Atiku, who was present with his wife, Mrs Titi Abubakar, promised to restructure the country and empower youths with Small and Medium Enterprises if elected president.
He said, “I want to give you a short history. This history is about 53 years ago, in 1969 when I first came to Lagos; there was only one Carter Bridge built by the Europeans. There was no Second Mainland Bridge, no Third Mainland Bridge, or the Tafawa Balewa Square.
“It was the Federal Government that built the Second and Third Mainland Bridges and rebuilt the Carter Bride, Agege Motor Road, Ikorodu, and all the major roads connecting the island with the mainland. Now the APC government is claiming that they developed Lagos; they did not develop Lagos at all. They are lying to you.
“Therefore, it is time for you the people of Lagos to liberate yourself from a family government to the people’s government, and that people’s government is going to be led by Jandor.
“People of Lagos, it is high time you took your destiny into your own hands for your future, not for the future of one family. In the last 23 years, you have been governed by one family and it is your right and your duty to take over that governance and hand it over to yourselves that is what the PDP stands for.
“On my own part, if you elect me as president, I promise by the grace of God, I am going to set aside $10bn so that we can empower our young men and women in SMEs. People were asking me where I was going to get that money. If I privatise Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna refineries, I am going to get that money.
“Let me also promise you, if you vote for the PDP government we will restructure this country. What do we mean by that? We will give your states and local governments more power and resources, so it is up to you to hold them responsible.”
In his speech, the party’s vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa, said, “Atiku is the only presidential candidate who is accepted in all the geopolitical zones of Nigeria. And the reason he is accepted is that he is a man that means well for this country. He is the only presidential candidate that has the experience to take us out of the troubles that we are in.
“We want a Nigeria that works for everybody and we want a Lagos State that works for everybody. The Nigeria of today is not the Nigeria of our dreams and I urge all of you to vote for Atiku because he will restore the country’s lost glory.”
On his part, the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, noted that the PDP would liberate and rescue Lagos State.
He said, “We shall rescue Lagos from the hands of people who don’t want progress for Lagos people and Nigerians. Liberating Lagos is like liberating Nigeria because Lagos is an important part of Nigeria.
“Lagos is the biggest city in the country with a population of about 25 million people which is more than most African countries and other countries in the world. It is a very rich state, a state where there should be no poverty.
“In 1993, our leader Chief MKO Abiola said farewell to poverty was going to begin in Lagos. We have brought to you hope, we have brought you a man who is experienced, who knows Lagos, who knows Nigerians, who is leading the crusade to rescue Lagos, end poverty, and create jobs. With a president from the PDP, we shall make sure that it will be better for all of us.”
During the rally, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, was received into the party, after his defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress.
“I want to assure the people of Lagos, that for us it is the unity, peace, and progress of this country that bother us and we have looked at all the tickets and we believe it is Atiku and Okowa who will deliver on the great promise of this nation,” he stated in his brief address.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Presidential Campaign Council of the PDP and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom, said, “In those days, the economy of Lagos State was more buoyant than those of West African countries altogether. Today, if you enter Oregun, Ilupeju, and Oba Akran, do you still have all those companies again? No. In the days of PDP, the economy was moving.
“Lagos is where money is made, Abuja is where money is saved and the South-South is where money is produced. Under PDP, we will restore the economy of Nigeria. All those factories that have left Lagos today will all come back. In the Atiku Abubakar’s administration, the economy of Lagos will bounce back.”
The Lagos State PDP governorship candidate, Olajide Adediran (popularly known as Jandor), who was present with his running mate, Funke Akindele, faulted the Lagos State government over the increased rate of unemployment since 2019.
He said, “We need to recover Nigeria to rescue Lagos, and February 25th is the date we are going to do this. I won’t speak about their 23 years of hardship because that is there for everybody to see. But in 2019, when the current government took over power, the poverty rate in Lagos State was 4.5 percent; today it is 8.5 percent. At that time unemployment rate was 14.6 percent, today it is 37.6 percent.
“Funke and I, for 20 years now have been contributing our own quota, employing people, paying salaries and today we can beat our chests and stand in front of everybody to say it is by our effort and the grace of God.”
PDP govs speak
Also present at the rally were the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku; the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki; the Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri; the National Chairman of PDP; former Senate Presidents Dr Bukola Saraki and Anyim Pius Anyim; the Lagos State PDP Chairman, Philip Aivoji, and the state Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Committee, Mr Adedeji Doherty, among others.
However, it was observed that the former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Olabode George; the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde; the party’s Deputy National Chairman, Taofeek Arapaja; former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, among other leaders of the PDP Integrity Group led by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, were absent from the rally.
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