Tinubu clocks 65, proffers solutions to economic crisis
A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday identified four things that the country must do to achieve economic revival.
Nigeria has since last year slipped into economic recession.
To get out of the woods, according to Tinubu, the country must embrace diversification and industrial policy, it must invest in infrastructure and improve on power supply, the Central Bank of Nigeria must lower the interest rates to encourage investors and the government must embark on agricultural reforms.
Tinubu made these suggestions in a speech titled, “Nigeria: Meeting current challenges,” which he delivered on Tuesday at a colloquium to mark his 65th birthday.
The 9th Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Colloquium with the theme, “Make it in Nigeria: Use what we make, make what we use,” held at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Tinubu said it was time that Nigeria changed its economic model as it was obvious that the old model, where the country relied solely on revenue from crude oil export, had crashed.
He said it was good that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government had realised this and had begun the painful process of salvaging the nation’s economy by embarking on diversification.
He, however, advised the Federal Government to team up with the private sector’s players in its quest to diversify the economy.
He added that the country must borrow a leaf from the experiences of countries such as England, America and China, which had today become self-reliant by taking tough decisions.
“We must learn from England, which barred the migration of its master craftsmen and the export of textile looms at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution; to America and high tariffs it imposed on foreign manufactured goods for over 150 years from its independence until after the second World War; to China which implemented a most radical and comprehensive protectionist regime to become the world’s most prolific manufacturing nation,” Tinubu said.
He said, like England, America and China, Nigeria too must decide what its economic strength should be and focus on same.
“Whether we decide to focus our attention on steel, textiles, cars, machinery components, or other items, the truth is that we must focus on manufacturing important, useful things,” Tinubu said.
He said the Federal Government must address and conquer the economic, political and bureaucratic bottlenecks preventing the country from achieving reliable and affordable power supply, which, he noted, were critical to industrialisation.
“The lack of power places our businesses at profound disadvantage, driving up costs, impeding productivity and dousing overall economic activities and job creation,” Tinubu said.
He said the Central Bank of Nigeria had to lower the interest rates to enable industrialists in the country to have access to credit facilities.
On agricultural reform, Tinubu advised the Federal Government to establish commodity exchange boards which would allow farmers to secure good prices for their produce, complemented with improved warehousing system to enhance food security.
Tinubu also used the occasion to appreciate the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his exemplary values.
Tinubu stated, “For a moment, may I dispense with the formality of titles and protocol. Osinbajo is many good things. Today, may I simply call him my friend and brother. I must applaud President Muhammadu Buhari. He meticulously followed our constitution by temporarily transferring the helm to the VP. As such, the two excellent men exemplified teamwork and true meaning of unity of purpose.
“These two men, although from different backgrounds, faith and professional experiences, have forged themselves into a team that manages complex matters of state and governance in a seamless and smooth manner. Try as critics might, they could not create any space between the President and his deputy.”
In his goodwill message, Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), said the theme of the colloquium was relevant to the country’s current realities.
Buhari noted that the country ran into trouble due to over-reliance on imported products, which he alleged the past government did nothing to address.
He said his administration was serious about facilitating local industries to make what the country needed, adding that only products that were strategic to the country’s development plan would be imported.
Also speaking, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, admitted that the economic model that the Federal Government adopted was borrowed from the template created by Tinubu in Lagos State which was being built upon by his successors.
Adeosun reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to move away from the lazy economic model of relying on crude oil.
“Presently, we have unproductive economy. Then we need to drive the economy by creating jobs. We will change Nigeria by consuming what we make in Nigeria. Using what we make and consuming what we make is the best way towards economic recovery,” the minister said.
Also, Nigerian billionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said his cement factory had attained the capacity to export seven million tonnes of cement, adding that US was one of his company’s export target.
He thanked Tinubu for facilitating his company’s acquisition of 208 hectares of land in Lekki, which, he noted, was six times the size of the entire VI, adding that his refinery would turn out 650 barrels of refined oil per day, which would be consumed by both Nigeria and 15 states of the Economic Community of West African States.
Dangote said the nation’s population, projected to hit 210 million in 2020, must be seen by all as a blessing.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar, who delivered the keynote address, highlighted how the Nigerian Air Force had been able to locally fabricate various spare parts for its various aircraft thereby saving forex and cutting costs.
The colloquium was graced by Osinbajo and his wife, Dolapo; the governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna and Edo states, Akinwunmi Ambode, Ibikunle Amosun, Abiola Ajimobi and Nasir el-Rufai and Godwin Obaseki respectively.
Also present were a former Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, a former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel; the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Others who attended the event included ex-governors of Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Anambra and Bayelsa states, Adams Oshiomhole, Adeniyi Adebayo, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Peter Obi and Timipre Sylva respectively and many others.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has eulogised Tinubu, describing himas a “dogged” fighter of democracy, who fought for the whole nation.
Part of a statement by the speaker’s media aide, Mr. Turaki Hassan, quoted Dogara as saying, “He is undoubtedly one of the leading lights of our modern democracy.
“I can only say this based on the part I have touched. I see him as someone who is demonstrating the attributes of a true leader… He is not a regional leader.”
The Senator representing Lagos East, Gbenga Ashafa, described Tinubu as a selfless leader, saying that the quality endeared him loyal followership,
A former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, also described Tinubu as an indomitable spirit of great mind, insightful opinion, strong heart and exemplary will.