A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Thursday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to do more to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians.
He said although the administration had achieved a lot in the two years of its existence, too many Nigerians were still too poor to be ignored.
Tinubu made the call in his keynote address at the public presentation of a book, “Making Steady, Sustainable Progress for Nigeria’s Peace and Prosperity” at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The 360-page book is a mid-term scorecard of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration authored by the Presidential Media Team.
The former Lagos State governor said though the present administration worked hard to fix the country, it must recognised the situation of millions of people who had been denied for a long time and were still suffering.
He said, “True, much good has been done by this government to ignore. However, too many of our people remain too poor and put-out to ignore as well. Daylight comes but not yet to all and not in equal measure.
“Due to the neglect of prior governments, our economy was not allowed to blossom in a way that offered jobs to the poor and empowered the common man.
“Where prosperity should have stood, poverty was erected. Where progress should have been established, stagnation assumed residence. We are trying hard to escape this deep hole.
“While we work towards this good end, we must recognise the situation of millions of our people. Wrongfully denied for so long, they suffer still. But we ask them to take heart. Don’t forfeit hope. Understand that tomorrow will not be as the past when what was built and bought was not intended for you.
“What we are now building, is meant for you. This is your government and you will be the beneficiaries of its policies and programmes. You are no longer the forgotten. You are the hope and promise of a nation and its future.
“As this government implements its economic plans, the griping poverty you have long suffered will give way and ultimately turn into the fertile progress and prosperity that only good governance can bring. We do this with a sense of urgency!”
Tinubu said the country was racing against unrelenting time and that a time would come when the nation’s oil would lose its value and would become “merely liquid beneath our feet.”
He said the government must train its policies to avert the impending problem, adding that the history of a depressed economy must not be allowed to repeat itself.
The APC chief noted that some people might distort his observations to make them appear as pieces of evidence of “space” between him and Buhari.
“Their evidence will be false and their news about this will be fake. Mischief never dies. Fortunately, nor does the truth.
“What I proffer today is done in the spirit of utmost respect and affinity by one who wants the best for this government and for Nigeria. I say these things to encourage the government to achieve the greatness the times demand and of which this government is capable,” he said.
While describing the economy as the battlefront upon which the nation’s fate would be decided, Tinubu observed that the 2018 Budget that was recently presented to the National Assembly would move the nation farther in the right direction.
He added, “It is a bolder, more creative one than this government’s earlier editions.
“It shows this government has embraced its progressive identity despite the chorus of opposition. Also that it more clearly realises the depths of the economic and financial challenges before us.
“One of the important aspects of this budget is the capital expenditure for needed infrastructure.
“This investment means the government fully recognises our economy must grow but that it cannot expand beyond the parameters of the infrastructural grid that serves it.
“With this book and with the budget we come to the place where past intersects with the present to interact with the future; the place where what we do or don’t do will dictate the Nigeria of tomorrow.
“We are inching out of recession but growth must increase. It is time to lead our people to a place where poverty and hunger become infrequent and where prosperity and hope are the daily fare of the common man.”
He called the government’s attention to three key ideas – the establishment of a robust industrial capacity, the need for a national infrastructural plan and the need to help common farmers by improving rural output and incomes.
He urged the government to return to commodity exchange boards or similar mechanism to allow farmers to secure their income and hedge against loss.
Tinubu said the nation’s future was one of beckoning challenge yet potential greatness.
“Through no fault of their own, too many of our people are without. Too many parents cannot properly feed and clothe their precious children, too many young adults exist in the void of joblessness, and too many of us do not have the resources to care for elderly parents who once cared for them. We must cure these wrongs.
“If I were an architect, I would say that President Buhari has used the last two years to wisely lay the deep and wide foundation for a new building called a better Nigeria.
“Today, as I stand before you all, I implore him and his government. The good you have started…. do it the more. The good that you have yet to achieve …. get to it with a laser- like focus.
“If we do as we must, we can well together construct this new building so that it will have place and habitation for those who have lived outside and on the margins to come in and finally partake of the bounty and good harvest a proud and true nation has to offer its people,” he added.
Tinubu calls for true federalism
Tinubu said the nation must move towards true federalism.
This, he said, should be done by the balance of power and responsibility between the Federal Government and the states.
“In so doing, we attain the correct balance between our collective purpose on one hand and our separate grassroots realities on the other,” he said.
Boko Haram decimated under Buhari
Tinubu recalled that before the inception of the present administration the Boko Haram sect wreaked havoc daily.
He said the sect invaded towns and villages, erasing the peace and normalcy of the people to replace it with wanton brutality, hatred and death.
“They hoisted their dreadful flag where only the green and white of Nigeria should have been.
“Today, that evil flag is not planted over an inch of our precious land. This violent scourge recedes into the darkened shadows of inhumanity from whence it came.
“People once under its horrid dominion now breathe the air of freedom and safety.
“Boko Haram has not been completely defeated. But there is no question, that it has been decimated and made shorter and weaker. They shall never constitute the threat they once were.
“This is no accident. It is the result of the policies and commitment of President Buhari, his government and the men and women of our armed forces who place their lives on the line in silent heroism to protect this nation and its people.
“Had the previous government remained in place, Boko Haram would have surely eaten more territory and devoured more people. This nation might have indeed been divided and cut asunder, not by choice but by the knife of terrorism,” he said.
Nation’s common wealth squandered under Jonathan
The former governor also said that the previous government used the public treasury as a private hedge fund or a charity that limited its giving only to themselves.
He said, “So much money grew feet and ran away faster than Usain Bolt ever could. That which could have been spent on national development was squandered in ways that would cause the devil to blush.
“One minister and her rogues’ gallery picked the pocket of this nation for billions of dollars. While poor at governance, these people could give a master thief lessons in the sleight of hand. In governance, they earned a red card but in the corruption, they won the gold medal.
“It was not that our institutions had become infected by corruption. Corruption had become institutionalised.”
He noted that Buhari had set an axe to the root of corruption which he described as a dangerous tree.
He however admitted that the war against large-scale corruption had not been won yet.
He said it would take time and countless swings of the axe to fall such a deeply-rooted tree.
“Gone are the times when a minister can pilfer billions of dollars as easy as plucking a piece of candy from the table.
“We have much to do to combat this disease. Not only must we track down the takers. In the long term, we must review the salaries of public servants and create universal credits for our people to reduce temptation.
“We must also take greater care by placing people of character, competence and goodness into key positions. When they fail, they must be removed without remorse or favour.
“Unlike its predecessor, this government has demonstrated the will to walk this path. While this might not cause much fanfare or celebration, this cleanses the institutions upon which a nation’s wellbeing is founded with a future assured,” he added.
I’ve tackled terrorism, economy is work-in-progress –Buhari
Meanwhile, President Buhari has said his administration has succeeded in reversing the affront of members of the Boko Haram sect who were overrunning troops and encroaching on the nation’s territorial integrity as of the time he took over from former President Goodluck Jonathan on May 29, 2015.
He however admitted that the task of revamping the nation’s economy which exited recession recently remained work-in-progress.
Buhari stated this in the foreword he wrote for a book, “Making Steady, Sustainable Progress for Nigeria’s Peace and Prosperity” put together by his media team.
Our correspondent on Tuesday obtained an advance copy of the book, which is the mid-term scorecard of the present administration, ahead of its public presentation scheduled for Thursday in Abuja.
In the foreword titled, “Come, let us reflect together,” Buhari said he was tackling corruption, insecurity and parlous economy boldly and honestly.
He insisted that he inherited the challenges from the last administration.
The President said the promise he made, during electioneering that preceded the 2015 presidential election, to sweep away the filth that had been standing against national development was not made lightly.
He said, “Part of the attributes of humans as sentient beings is the gift of reflection, which enables us to ruminate on issues, challenges, opportunities and situations.
“Reflection is an integral part of human memory; attempting to detach one from the other is to embark on an impossible mission.
“Reflection is the signpost to our thinking faculties as it enables us to evaluate where we are coming from, where we are and where we are headed.
“The administration came into office two years ago on the promise of change; to sweep away the filth in our national life which has been standing in the path of our manifest greatness.
“That promise was not made lightly, nor has the government relented in its commitment to a sacred mandate to better the lot of the citizenry.
“Corruption, insecurity and the parlous economy were the challenges inherited at inception. They have been addressed and are still being addressed boldly and honestly.
“Steadily, the culture of impunity is receding; the affront of terrorists overawing security troops and encroaching on our territorial integrity has been reversed. The task of revamping the economy remains work-in-progress.
“Reflection on the intrinsic link between the past, the present and the future is useful to help us come to better terms with the challenges facing us as a people and a country.”
Buhari said every objective observer will agree with him that in two years, Nigeria has made steady progress under him.
He promised to do more to make steady progress a permanent feature of the country.
The 348-page book listed the achievements of each ministry in the two years of the present administration.
It also highlighted the achievements of some key government agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigeria Customs Service and the Niger Delta Development Commission, among others.
The book was jointly edited by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu; and the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.