By Erunke Joseph
ABUJA—NATIONAL Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, outlined steps that can urgently take Nigeria out of recession, if taken and that Buhari was the right candidate to beat Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Tinubu, who for the first time spoke on the inside strategy that catapulted the APC to power, gave reasons he backed President Muhammadu Buhari for the 2015 presidential election, adding that in a short-while Buhari had done what the ousted Peoples Democratic Party, PDP could not do in the war against the Boko Haram insurgency.
Tinubu made the disclosures while addressing participants of Course 25 of the National Defence College, NDC.
He commended the military for its exploits against the Boko Haram insurgents and warned that Nigeria must be on her guard.
‘’I commend the Nigerian military for what it has achieved against Boko Haram. You have battled and defeated this evil enterprise. This vile force has been reduced to where it no longer poses a strategic threat. You have done as well as a military can in putting down this amorphous danger. The nation thanks you. I must say here, however, that we cannot lower our guard.
‘’We have learned cardinal lessons from the Boko Haram crisis. First, we must govern justly and for the benefit of the people to prevent the recurrence of violent extremism in the future,’’ he said.
Unjust allocation of resources
To wriggle out of recession, Tinubu said we must ensure just allocation of resources and shift primary focus to the economic front.
His words: ‘’The decline of high oil prices threatens to be a long-term phenomenon. It placed the nation in recession last year and revealed the structural weaknesses of our national economy.
‘’Strategic objectives during this period of economic uncertainty must be to re-engineer the economy bottom up, diversify the economic base, strengthen our industrial base, modernize infrastructure, enhance agriculture, and provide employment. And of course, ease of doing business must not be overlooked in order to attract foreign investment.
‘’The lower oil prices also reduced hard currency earnings. This undermined the naira, causing a steep rise in the cost of imports. The higher prices have suppressed aggregate demand, causing a decline in business activity.
‘’The challenge before us is a difficult but not impossible one. If we stick to the progressive beliefs of the APC, we shall overcome these difficulties to place the economy on surer permanent footing.
‘’Government has shown its commitment to these ideals via its budget for this year and by the strong help it is giving state governments to meet their budgetary requirements. The unprecedented stipend programme for the poorest highlights the government’s concern for those who have been left unattended by the dynamics of the marketplace.
‘’Achieving the desired economic restructuring will require a change in economic mindset and strategy. We must avoid the nostrums of mainstream orthodoxy that say government deficits are always bad. In the situation we face, deficit spending is essential to bolster aggregate demand and direct funds to projects that build infrastructure and bolster employment.
‘’We must better harmonize monetary policy with fiscal policy. It undercuts our goals if monetary policy is unduly tight at a time fiscal policy begets deficit spending.
‘’We must also realign trade policy with our need to create a meaningful industrial base and more potent agricultural sector. We can no longer allow cheap imports to preclude the development of industries and sectors strategic to our enduring economic future.’’
Tinubu noted that “widespread” poverty caused by an unjust allocation of income, wealth and resources provides fertile ground for extremist ideologies, that run contrary to the inclusive democracy we seek to perfect. Protracted years of gross mis-governance are a down payment on the rise of extremism.’’
Delving into his personal experience, Tinubu said his vision has been on the transformation of Nigeria into “a robust decentralized democracy with a diverse industrial base, to provide sufficient jobs to a growing urban population; and a sufficient agricultural base, to achieve food security and provide a decent livelihood to the rural population.’’
According to him, this was the reason he fought against military rule and initiated steps to kick the PDP out of power.
Practical strategic leadership
His words: ‘’During the 1980’s and 1990’s, a progressive politician like me was at extreme odds with the military. This opposition was not against the military as the military. It was against military governance. Military governance was diametrically opposed to the democratic Nigeria I envisioned.’’
Where we are now
‘’Leading into the 2015 election season, progressive politicians throughout Nigeria and across party lines recognized the nation was in deep trouble. Corruption was rampant. The Boko Haram menace growing. The economy was unbalanced and government policy was not providing the right growth catalysts despite favorable oil prices. PDP governance had overstayed its welcome. The people were ready for change. And we must develop the strategic leadership and determination to achieve the change.
Standing as separate parties, we could not best the PDP. We had tried that path; it led to defeat in 2011. A strategic rethink was needed.
To attain the goal of ousting the PDP and placing Nigeria on the road to progressive governance, the strategic linchpin would be the merger of opposition parties.
Time is inadequate to recount the complex journey toward the merger. My firm position was that only a merger would work. Anything short of that would disintegrate due to a combination of PDP enticement and the internal pressures arising from the strong identification of many politicians with their legacy parties. An ad-hoc alliance would be put asunder by these factors.
‘’Our push for a merger of the old parties into a new entity carried the day. We would join hands to form a collective identity. The CPC and my party, ACN, ANPP a long with progressive elements of the APGA formed the party. Key elements of the PDP would later join.
‘’For this amalgamation to work, it had to be more than an anti-PDP gathering. It had to present a genuine, positive message that spoke to people’s hopes and aspirations.
We developed the theme of change as our strategic message. The broom became an apt party symbol. We would sweep out the old, sweep in the new and work hard towards prosperity for our country.
‘’We fashioned a tripartite campaign message and strategy message. Security, Economy and Corruption. We would drive these three messages home as if with military artillery. However, we have only our leadership and strategic hammer.
Buhari was the right candidate to beat PDP
‘’Still all of this would have been to no avail without the right candidate. Given his stature and reputation for integrity, honest dealing and patriotic commitment, there really was no other candidate to have carried the day, than then General Muhammadu Buhari.
‘’Yet, even with such a figure as our candidate, we foresaw the need to construct a public relations strategy to counter false accusations of religious intolerance and parochialism that would be hurled at him. We did this with great success because we prepared for these attacks beforehand…
‘’We did not win the election by accident. I had studied the resulting and voting patterns of all the prior elections since 1999. Our team did an honest assessment and detailed assessment of our strengths and weaknesses and those of our opponents.
How we won 2015 presidential poll
To win, we knew the votes we needed and identified the likely places and demographic constituencies from which the bulk of those votes must come. We did not waste time chasing votes we would not get. We concentrated on our strengths and the other side’s weaknesses, realising that our defence must be as tight as if we are inside the War College here in Abuja.
‘’The other factor is one that is little spoken of. Our early insistence on biometric voter registration and the use of the card reader on voting day were of strategic importance as it is essential to safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process. In past elections, PDP vote padding had been massive in certain areas. We had to curtail this malpractice to achieve the objective of making the election as fair as possible, allowing us a chance to win.
‘’The card reader minimized the rigger’s ability to steal the election. Before its use, results could be written without regard to the number of actual people who cast ballots.
In a polling booth where 50 people actually showed up to vote, the rigger could falsify figures and claim that 500 votes were cast. With the card reader, the rigger could steal no more than 50 votes. The tallies could not be inflated beyond the number of actual voters.
‘’Upon these strategic pillars, we built historic victory. For the first time in the nation’s history, incumbent president and party lost the national election. This historic transition further cemented our democratic evolving tradition and structures, advancing us closer to the overarching vision that guides my political actions.
Where we are going
‘’In relative short order, the Buhari administration has done what the prior government seem unable to do. With the courage and dedication of the military, Boko Haram has been subdued. Also, notable and significant progress is being made against corruption. Press freedoms and civil liberties are protected, putting to lie those who cried that President Buhari would not respect democracy and rule of law.’’