The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bola Tinubu, has said that critics of the administration failed in their attempt to cause a rift between President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, during the president’s medical vacation.
Speaking on Tuesday during the Ninth Annual Bola Tinubu Colloquium held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, to commemorate his 65th birthday, the former Lagos State governor also commended the vice-president for his admirable performance during Buhari’s absence.
He said: “I must thank Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. For a moment, may I dispense with the formality of titles and protocols; Osinbajo is many good things. Today, may I simply call him my friend and brother.
“Leading a group of fellow commissioners who worked together during my time as governor of Lagos, Yemi and this creative group have turned this event into an annual reality.
“Each year, they assemble creative minds to address the issues that stand in the way of our national greatness. As a result, the colloquium gets better by the year.
“In this and so much else, the VP has proven himself a true servant of the Nigerian people. While our dear president had to be away, the VP performed admirably as his loyal subordinate.
“I must applaud President Muhammadu Buhari. He meticulously followed our constitution in temporarily transferring the helm of power to the VP.
“As such, the two excellent men exemplified teamwork and true meaning of unity of purpose.
“These two men although of 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.
“This is how things are when people are united in vision and purpose. As President Buhari and his VP have been, we all must become.”
Tinubu emphasised that the annual collquium was not designed to be about him but to address a national need.
“Though the event banners bear my name, this gathering is not about me. It is about what a people united in purpose must do to improve their beloved country.
“Though our roles may be different, some may work under the public glare and others labour without fanfare, we are all but servants to that goal.
“In this pursuit, no person is greater than any other. For this is the nation that we seek. We build a nation by forging the nation ourselves to become that nation, day by day, difficult step by difficult step.
“We do so by casting aside the prejudices and biases of the past in order to forge a more progressive and just society where no Nigerian is pushed down because of his place, origin, faith or social status,” he said.
On the path to Nigeria’s economic recovery, he said: “I have listened to the Minister of Finance, Nigeria stands at a defining juncture. Our challenges are manifold and profound. Yet, so are our collective abilities and talents. Don’t ignore them.
“One more thought shall suffice: Here, I add a third part to this year’s theme. Not only must we use what we make and what we use, we must fix our minds to make what the world values.”
Tinubu also suggested among other things that Nigeria must press forward with a national industrial policy that fosters the development of strategic industries, creates jobs and spurs further economic growth.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, admitted that the federal government had borrowed from the “ingenious economic template” of the administration led by Tinubu, when he governed Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, for its economic recovery plan.
Adeosun said as part of efforts to reposition the Nigerian economy, the federal government embarked on an aggressive tax collection drive which it borrowed from the Lagos State Government.
“The economic template we are using today at the federal level is the one we copied from you (Tinubu). And most states are now copying it. And we are following that which you laid down. Oil has proved to us that it is a very unreliable source of revenue.
“As a matter of fact, it is a lazy means of economic revenue. The situation we found ourselves today demands that we have multiple sources of revenue; we need to create jobs for people.
“Presently, we have an unproductive economy, so 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 tax mobilisation we copied from Tinubu is what we are using. And we thank you for leading the way in tax collection. As a matter of fact, when you embarked on aggressive tax collection, which eventually led to increased IGR in the state, many people complained but the truth is that we all can see the massive infrastructure development achieved from that aggressive tax collection,” Adeosun said.
Assuring the gathering of eminent Nigerians who attended the event with the theme, “Make It in Niger: Use What We Make – Make What We Use,” Adeosun said that the federal government was ready go after unpaid taxes.
“So all the millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires who have carried on their businesses without paying taxes should expect me. I will be knocking at your doors,” she said.
The well attended event had keynote speakers drawn from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Ministry of Finance and they all emphasised the need to look inwards in the drive to grow the Nigerian economy.
The guest speaker and Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said he was thrilled at the theme of this year’s event.
He said: “I am thrilled because it affords me the opportunity to showcase how the Nigerian Air Force has been innovating locally to maintain its array of platforms, weapons systems and associated equipment.
“For the Nigerian Air Force platforms to remain operational, the timely delivery of parts at reasonable costs must be assured.
“However, the Nigerian Air Force is ordinarily compelled to rely mostly on foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for the supply of the parts and usually at exorbitant prices.
“Besides, as a service, we are well aware of the focus of the federal government in promoting local content, home grown technologies and innovation as principal means of preserving the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.
“Accordingly, the Nigerian Air Force currently places much emphasis on research and development as a way of building indigenous technological capacity.”
Although President Buhari was absent, he was represented by Osibanjo, who came with his wife, and the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd.).
Dambazau spoke very highly of Tinubu, describing him as a politician with foresight and a penchant for good leadership.
“Tinubu is the outstanding South-west politician of his generation. He is a great mobiliser. He is very good in planning and executing government plans.
“He played great role in the transformation of Lagos State. Tinubu and his associates, Fashola, Osinbajo and now Ambode are the architects of the new Lagos.
“Lagos used to be one of the dirtiest states, but now it is one of the cleanest in Nigeria. He has a knack for picking the right people at the best of times,” he noted.
According to him, “The present administration is determined to make sure that we produce and consume what we produce and import only what is strategic to our development and plan.”
Dambazau added that the federal government was looking forward to incorporating the proposal of the colloquium into the administration’s economic plan.
Renowned industrialist and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, also stirred up the teeming crowd with his story as an entrepreneur while pushing for industrialisation and entrepreneurship among Nigerians who he advised to take advantage of the numerous opportunities available in the country.
The chief host, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, likened Tinubu to a coconut whose uses are wholistic and not partial.
He described Tinubu as a made in Nigeria product, adding: “If he were to be like the coconut, I will eat, sleep and drink Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“The foundation he laid and the blueprint still exists across all sections. He has simplified the roadmap for governance.”
At the event were former Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Governors Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, who all graced the occasion with their wives in tow.