President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, National Leader, the All Progressives Congress (APC) say infrastructure development is a critical component of the Next Level of the administration.
The duo said this at the 11th Bola Tinubu Colloquium held in commemoration of Tinubu’s 67th birthday on Thursday in Abuja with the theme, `Next Level: Work for People.’
Next Level was the campaign slogan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2019 presidential campaign.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said that fixing infrastructure was crucial to achieving socio-economic development; hence the Next Level focused on agriculture.
“For us, infrastructure is critical at the Next Level; we cannot have transformative development with the type of power we have today; that is why we are focused on power and other infrastructure.
“We are focused on fixing infrastructure in our country and we believe that if we are able to fix infrastructure in our country, the roads, the rail and especially power, we will be able to make significant progress.
“Today, our rail project starts from the Apapa Port so that we will be able to clear the congestion in that port because the Lagos to Kano railway begins from the Apapa port.
“We can start taking our cargo from the Apapa port using rail as an alternative means of transportation.’’
On agriculture, he said transformation had started in the sector with the partnership between Nigeria and Brazil.
According to him, reforms are being made in the education and healthcare sectors as the emphasis is on digital literacy, training our teachers to be able to train the next generation of children in school.
“So, we are focusing on Science Technology Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) not Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
“We are focusing on training young people on digital skills, critical thinking and some other skills that are necessary for the kind of jobs that the 21stcentury will provide,’’ he said.
Buhari extolled Tinubu’s leadership qualities and contributions to the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria.
On his part, Tinubu said that the government should continue to aggressively implement its national infrastructure plan.
He said that Nigeria must commit to a national highway system linking its major cities and towns and centres of commerce with one another.
“In working to transform the face of our economy, the government must also enact policies that encourage industrialisation and modern agricultural practices.
“ We must applaud President Muhammadu Buhari for the historic innovations made in the agricultural sector.
“ We must further encourage him to do even more; government-funded social security for the aged and government-backed affordable housing and mortgage facilities are things we must continue to explore in an aggressive manner.’’
He advised the Federal Government against increasing the Value Added Tax (VAT), adding that it would have a negative impact on the citizens.
“Consumer spending is sleepy and this is where I will stop and appeal to Osinbajo and his team to put a huge question mark on any increase of VAT, please.
“ If we reduce the purchasing power of the people, we can further slow down the economy. Let’s widen the tax net.
“Those who are not paying now even if it is inclusive of Bola Tinubu; let the net get bigger and take more taxes and that is what we must do in the country instead of an additional layer in taxes,” he said.
Earlier, the Chief Host and Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, described Tinubu as a man with high political dexterity and a dogged national leader of APC who spearheaded the party to victory in the last presidential election.
The colloquium attracted many dignitaries, including Governors of Ondo, Kano, Zamfara, Bauchi, Osun, Ekiti, Plateau, the Governor-elect of Lagos State, and Governor-elect of Kwara State and the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
Ministers, traditional rulers, diplomats and some service chiefs were also in attendance.
The highpoint of the event was the cutting of birthday cake. (NAN)