National Leader All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has said what Nigerians needed now is stimulus expenditure and not austerity measures.
The former Lagos state governor also urged the recruitment of fifty million Nigerian youths into the Army to curb unemployment and end the nation’s security woes.
Tinubu spoke in Kano Monday at the12th Colloquium to mark his 69th birthday, an event that had in attendance crème de la crème of the society from all walks of life.
He said: “This is the time to put stimulus expenditure in place. This is no more time for austerity. This is no more time to constrain the economy. It is time to create opportunities.”
The former lawmaker who recalled the recent stimulus package by the US government in the wake of COVID-19, said: “Your own employment rate is 33% and you ask us to keep on fasting. The one we are fasting spiritually is voluntary. We have been fasting for so many years. I hope the National Assembly; I hope the president himself will not pay attention to austerity. It is only the state that must constrain itself and balance budget.”
As a sovereign nation, he said Nigeria should use its sovereignty to better the people’s lots, even as he called for further employment of youths in the security sector.
The former governor said: “We are under-policed and are competing with armed robbers and bandits desperately recruiting our teeming unemployed youths-33 per cent unemployed – to wreak havoc on the nation. We must do everything humanly possible to engage the youths in finding possible avenues of employment for them to wax stronger and equally have a sense of belonging.
While calling on the federal government to “recruit 50 million youths into the army,” Tinubu said “what they will eat —cassava, corn, yam, will grow here.”
On the qualifications of those to be recruited into the nation’s security agencies, the celebrant said the basic thing should be the readiness to fight the criminal elements holding the nation to ransom.
He said: “Don’t talk about illiteracy, anybody who can hold a gun, who can handle a gun, who can cock and shoot is technically competent to repair a tractor in the farm. We must effect a discernible paradigm shift in order to make them relevant and disabuse their minds that they have not been left at the lower rung of the ladder.”
“My acceptance in Kano has indeed gingered my confidence that I am a true son of the soil which I am proud of. This Colloquium was conceived to be a litmus test of my fame, honour and popularity. The people of Kano have given me the clean bill of health to move forward and would remain ever green in my memory.”
While sympathising with the Nigerian youth, Tinubu said: “Surprisingly, when you see the social media today, you see the minds of our youths. They are angry, but we appeal to them that we will listen to them.”
Explaining the choice of Kano for the event, the APC leader said it was to show the unity and bond between people of different ethnic groupings.
“Why are we in Kano? It is to demonstrate to Nigerians at this critical time. It is because there is a Fulani man, a herder man who gave his daughter to a farmer, Yoruba man. And that Fulani, that Yoruba and some people are agitating wrongly.
“If we can encourage support to go and spend a couple of days with my brother and in-law in Kano and demonstrate that he has not quarreled with me, he has not seceded from Nigeria, I didn’t need a passport or visa to get to Kano, maybe others will have peace of conscience, live in peace and harmony and be loving to one another. That is what Ganduje and I are showing to Nigerians, and that is the purpose of this colloquium. End of story,” he said.
“All of you here should thank Ganduje for what we have been able to show Nigerians together that a Fulani man and a Yoruba man can show the entire nation that in harmony, we can show Nigerians that perseverance creates understanding. It is a common blood that flows through our veins,” he further said.
On the warmth accorded him in Kano, Tinubu said: “My acceptance in Kano has indeed gingered my confidence that I am a true son of the soil which I am proud of. This colloquium was conceived to be a litmus test of my fame, honour and popularity. The people of Kano have given me the clean bill of health to move forward and would remain ever green in my memory.”
Buhari cautions on secession
Speaking at the event via zoom,President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigerians were better and stronger together despite the occasional ethnic tensions in the country.
“Despite occasional inter-ethnic tensions in our national history, it seems to me that we have all agreed on one point that, notwithstanding our diversity of ethnicity, culture, language and religion, Nigerians are better together; even stronger together,” he said.
Extolling Tinubu’s as a pan-Nigerian, the president said the APC national leader fought “a good fight aimed at pushing the nation to greater height. One is always judged by his good attributes that make him to stand tall among his peers. We are short of words to express our joy, happiness and elation.”
He commended the celebrant for always being an advocate of unity and cohesion in Nigeria.
“This has been a constant factor in his outstanding political career, from the time he served in the short-lived Senate of the Third Republic to his involvement in the struggle for the actualisation of the June 12 mandate of the late Chief M.K.O Abiola, to his much-acclaimed period of service as Governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007.
“The ranks of Asiwaju’s political collaborators, whether as party members, comrades in the struggle, members of his cabinet, or his advisers, assistants and political associates, have always reflected a pan-Nigeria attitude. I believe all of us here can also confirm that the same outlook of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other like-minded Nigerians eventually made possible the coalition of four political parties into what we now see as our great party, the All Progressives Congress,” he said.
The president said the objectives of the colloquium, which seeks to provide answers to national issues, further reflected the personal principles of Tinubu in promoting the unity and welfare of the country.
“I think this Colloquium is a fitting reflection of the service that Asiwaju has given, not only to Lagos State, but to Nigeria and Africa; as well as his continuing commitment and influence, as one of the great pillars of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Equally, I salute all those who have kept this Colloquium culture alive and thriving, making it a rich source of wisdom in our common quest for a better world and, of course, a greater Nigeria.
“Today’s event promises an even more relevant and impactful discussion than ever before. The theme for this 12th edition, “Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth: The Imperative of National Cohesion for Growth and Prosperity,” speaks to a very contemporary but potentially ruinous trend, which, in my view, we must all join hands to check at once,” he said.
The president also spoke on his experience having worked in all parts of the country.
“I can also relate personally to the ideals of one Nigeria. As a military officer, I have served with great comrades from all the nooks and crannies of our country. I have seen over and over again that their goodness or failings did not depend on ethnicity or religion.
“In the course of my career, I have also been opportune to serve in all parts of Nigeria, seeing first-hand the enticing possibilities of a strong, united nation.
“More importantly, I fought for the unity of Nigeria during the civil war of 1967 to 1970, and I saw first-hand the unspeakable horrors of war, not just on fellow soldiers on both sides, but on the civilians: innocent children, women and elderly citizens that they left behind. As we all know, the peace-building, recovery and reconstruction that followed could also not have succeeded under an atmosphere of inter-ethnic animosity.
“We must count our blessings in Nigeria and see in them the crucial factors of peace and unity.
“I think the lessons of this Colloquium are clear. Our very best course of conduct, whether as leaders and citizens, is to now ensure that justice and harmony reign in Nigeria; to devote the resources of our country solely to its development and for the benefit of all our citizens; and in the process, to ensure that every Nigerian feels comfortable in every part of Nigeria.
“We all have a stake in the Nigeria project and, while playing our respective parts in its unity, peace and progress, we must constantly keep faith with the promise of a greater Nigeria,” Buhari further said.
While congratulating the ex-lawmaker and his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and the family, he said: “It is a mark of true statesmanship that your birthday should be hosted in Kano and celebrated in this way, with friends and associates from all parts of Nigeria joining in.”
Also speaking, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo described his erstwhile boss as a man of considerable foresight and the ability to see things beyond his nose.
Osinbajo was attorney general and commissioner of justice under the Tinubu administration as Lagos state governor.
He said: “We have no scintilla of doubt that the man is courageous and gallant in fighting to ensure that Nigeria remains as one indivisible entity. We are felicitating with him because he is a great icon of honour, compassion , resoluteness and sincerity of purpose, affirming that in the present political turmoil, Nigeria needs personality of his ilk to steer the nation”.
“People should begin to start thinking out of the box on the way primordial considerations and parochialism should be avoided. We all stand to guard against spearheading any attempt to destabilize the nation. We all have a stake on what it takes to keep the nation cohesive, prosperous and united. We should all remember that the unity of the country is not negotiable and would ever remain sacrosanct.”
Osinbajo also said: “If we begin to look at ourselves as one indivisible entity, we are doing what is expected to move forward. We must also strive to avoid pettiness and unnecessary bickering for development and progress to be the guiding principle of the nation. Despite the unfolding dismal events in the nation, we are still making considerable inroad towards achieving our noble objectives.”
Ganduje on integration
Speaking earlier, the chief host of the event, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje lamented the appalling level of national integration in the country as a result of deep-seated animosity and tribal hatred which had wreaked havoc on the nation.
He said if these issues were rightly tackled and properly addressed, Nigeria would firmly be placed on a promising pedestal for every citizen to have a clear sense of belonging.
“We can today be bold to tell everyone that Asiwaju is our own with no traces of animosity, bad blood or hatred. We have accepted to host this historic Colloquium for him to be convinced that we whole-heartedly believe in his resilience and effrontery in fighting for the unity of the nation. We are felicitating with him like other citizens across the nation,” Gnaduje said.
‘How to end agitation’
Meanwhile, the Northern Patriots have identified regional injustice and imbalance in major appointments, especially in the security sector as one of the drivers of insecurity in the country.
The group said the clamours for secession, restructuring and other issues fuelling disunity in the country were necessitated by imbalance in “allocation of national rights.”
National coordinator of the group, Dr Balarabe Usman Wudil and its national secretary, Mrs Zainab Muhammad, in a statement Monday implored Buhari to invest heavily in technology with a view to achieving the right and expected results.
“As a group of patriotic elements in the North, we decry the high rate of insecurity in our region and the damage it poses to national security. We observe that insecurity, which has grown to a dangerous proportion in our dear country today, is fuelled by regional imbalance and one-sided appointments, especially in security and government appointments. The clamour for self-rule and cessation in some quarters today is as a result of what we have identified.
“Having taken cognizance of these facts, may we humbly appeal to our dear and listening president, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, to correct these ills in our national life immediately with a view to giving every part of the country a sense of belonging and getting our country to work again,” the statement said.
“We lament the continuous detention of the 39 students of College of Forestry, Afaka. We hasten to attribute the inability to secure the release of these students to the failure of security agencies to live up to their mandate.
“The president should stop procrastinating and act now before it’s too late. He should immediately restructure the country’s security architecture for utmost results and also introduce the use of latest technology to combat criminality in the country.
“Every agitation we are seeing in Nigeria today is occasioned by insecurity and injustice. Our dear brother, Mr. President, must address all issues of insecurity and injustice now before we have ourselves to blame.
“This is constitutional democracy and the most vital posture that a president can adopt to make it survive is to listen to the citizens. At this point, he needs to take drastic measures even if it’s going to hurt some interests to solve this insecurity problem in the country, he should do it now before it’s too late,” they said.
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