Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has called on his fellow contestants to emulate his nonviolent disposition towards next year’s general election, counselling them to only allow the will of the people prevail
Tinubu gave the charge on Monday at Chatham House, London while delivering an address titled; “Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Security, Economic and Foreign Policy Imperatives”.
Some of his fiercest rivals are Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Peter Obi of Labour Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso of New Nigeria Peoples Party NNPP.
The APC standard bearer said as President, Nigeria will be an epitome of democratic values, supporting democracy in other countries.
He said; “Every election, wherever it is held, is important to the people or entity directly concerned. It is also important to the global democracy community as well. Equally, there are also countries whose elections, on account of their weight and influence, carry wider implications way beyond their immediate geographical boundaries. Nigeria is one of such countries.
“I stand firmly against all forms of electoral violence and intimidation. Having spent most of my career in the political opposition, I have long fought against electoral malpractice and any attempts to extinguish the legitimate choice of voters. I will continue to do so.
“And I urge all my fellow contestants in this election to do the same. Let the sovereign will of the people decide the path of our nation. And let this election be determined by voters making their choice freely rather than the domineering intimidation of the troublesome few.
“For one, as Africa’s most populous country and the continent’s largest economy, it is generally acknowledged that the fortunes of the African continent and indeed the Black race is tied directly to the health of Nigeria.
“Also the Nigerian elections of 2023 are coming up at a time when the country’s immediate geographical neighbourhood of West and Central Africa is undergoing serious political turmoil that has manifested itself in the incursion of the military to power in a number of countries. In spite of the legitimate concerns being expressed by observers, Nigerians are resolutely committed to democracy, regardless of their political differences.
“Nigeria shares direct land borders with four sister African countries with whose peoples Nigerians also share historical and cultural affinities,” Tinubu added.
The former Lagos governor also emphasized Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa which has continued to be a beacon of hope to the continent and the ECOWAS sub-region through now entrenched democratic ideals, having run an unbroken democracy for over two decades.
He said when he becomes Nigeria’s president, his administration will continue to provide quality leadership to the sub-region, to ensure democratic ideal are formed in nations of the ECOWAS region.
“This effectively means that the relationship between Nigeria and its immediate neighbours is much more than just a geographical expression”, he stated.
According to him, to be fully secure at home, Nigeria has always believed she must be her brothers’ keeper.
He said it was out of this understanding that Africa’s premier regional economic community, ECOWAS, was established in 1975.
“Uniquely, ECOWAS had embedded in its mandate, the promotion of regional economic integration as a good in its own right and in addition undertook sub-regional peace and security.
“I am convinced, as I am sure most of us are, that the broad principles that enabled successive Nigerian governments to interface development and security, and establish an organic link between national security and economic development with regional peace and prosperity is both impeccable and remains relevant. It is an approach which I commit myself to upholding and advancing.”
On security, Tinubu promised to tackle the situation headlong, so that Nigeria can also effectively provide security support for hers neighbours.
He said; “The challenges which have manifested themselves with regard to our national and regional development and 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 etc.
Mostly manifesting initially as national problems, these challenges evolved over time into trans-border and multinational challenges.
“We see the thousands of people who have been internally displaced at home or forced into refugee camps abroad. With farming activities disrupted, we have seen shortages of basic food items and food price inflation that are further undermining human security.
“To respond meaningfully to the discontents and to redress the many dislocations arising from them, we must begin by reminding ourselves of that old dictum: Foreign policy is but a continuation of domestic policy.
“As a first step, we must recalibrate domestic policy in order to revamp the foundation on which our quest to pursue human security rests.”
On energy and power, he said; “The Federal government as regulator and operator, and price fixer is a broken model and one that we fully intend to fix if elected.
“We have privatized power distribution in Nigeria and generation to a certain degree. What we need to do, going forward, is to improve the enabling environment and further reform the legal and regulatory framework to attract more private investments in the sector as we have experienced in the telecom industry.
“My belief that the private sector is the fulcrum of economic progress is evident and documented. However, fundamental flaws with the basic design of our national economy imperil the private sector from playing the role it ought to and adding the value it is capable of. In this instance, the government must act as a catalyst. We shall do this on all fronts. We will address the conflict between monetary and fiscal policies. Budgeting will be based on the projected spending levels needed to push real annual growth rate above 7 per cent while reducing the unemployment rate so that we can double the economy in ten years.”
Introducing the APC presidential candidate, the chairman of the event who is also the Managing Director, Ethics, Risk and Resilience of Chatham House and Director Africa Programme, Dr. Alex Vines OBE, described Tinubu as a former governor of Lagos and prominent politician who is no stranger to the House.
However, in an apparent reference to speculations that Tinubu was denied visa, the moderator joked that “he has US visa”.
Responding to a question on his age and identity, Tinubu said his birthday remains March 29, 1952 and his age and other records are with Chicago State University he attended and Mobil Oil that he worked with and left as Treasurer.
Tinubu was accompanied to the lecture by House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-olu (Lagos), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Ayade (Crossrivers), Abubakar Badaru, (Jigawa) and David Umahi (Ebonyi) as well as former governor of Ekiti, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and his former Edo State counterpart, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Others were some members of the APC National Working Committee particularly the Woman Leader Edu and her deputy, Hajiya Zainab Ibrahim, as well as former deputy governor of Lagos, Chief Femi Pedro, former Lagos Commissioner for Information Alake, his former Finance counterpart, Mr. Olawale Edun, Senator Tokunbo Abiru, Senator Fatai Buhari and Senator Adeola Olamilekan.
Also at the event were Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, former deputy governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Adesegun, Hadiza Bala-Usman and popular Lagos chieftain, Alhaji Mutiu Are.