Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Buhari hails ‘outstanding’ politician Tinubu at 65

It was a day of encomiums — and serious talks — yesterday in Lagos. Statesmen, eminent politicians, top government officials, military chiefs, captains of industry and traditional rulers joined relations and associates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for his 65th birthday in Lagos. At the colourful ceremony, which was witnessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), his wife, Dolapo, and 12 governors, President Muhammadu Buhari extolled Tinubu’s virtues, describing him as an “outstanding” politician and “a man of foresight”, who helped to unseat the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration. The former governor of Lagos State, to President Buhari, is “a great mobiliser, a man of action and an effective formulator of sound policies”. He recalled that Tinubu dedicated himself to the transformation of Lagos. The President said: “Chief Bola Tinubu is an outstanding Yoruba politician of his generation.” The Eko Hotel Hall, the venue of the Ninth Bola Tinubu Colloquium, was filled to the brim. Its theme was: “Make it in Nigeria: Use what we make; make what we use”. As from 7.30 am, the venue was aglow with festivities. Itinerant Yoruba drummers and singers welcomed guests with talking drums and cultural songs. Political differences temporarily disappeared as APC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains converged to honour the celebrator. Speakers at the colloquium included the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who spoke on efforts by the Air force to produce aircraft softwares locally, instead of relying on imports at exorbitant cost, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah shed light on the Federal Government’s effort to provide an enabling environment for investors. His Finance counterpart, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, announced plans by the government to embark on an aggressive tax drive targeted at rich Nigerians and business organisations fond of tax evasion. There was a documentary on the Tinubu political ascendancy. Another was on the growth of indigenous entrepreneurship and testimonies of successful business development by promising entrepreneurs. They included the Leader of SOCART Team, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Mr. Abraham Issac, the Chairman of IVM Innoson Group, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, Chief Executive Officer of CDS, Chinwe Ohajuruka, Tempo Housing managing Partner David Aderounmu, Founder of Wilson’s Juice Company Limited Seun Abolaji, Chief Executive Officer of Bathkandy Mrs. Blondie Okpuzor, Co-founder of AACE Foods Ndidi Nwuneli, Chief Executive Officer of Chocolate City Jude Abaga and Chief Executive Officer of Biola Alabi Media Mrs Biola Alabi. Tinubu strolled into the venue around 10.30am. Hale and hearty, he was accompanied by his wife, Senator Oluremi, the host governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, his wife, Bolanle, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Adebule and former Deputy Governor, Chief Olufemi Pedro. Dignitaries included former Vice President Namadi Sambo, Governors Bello Masari (Katsina State), Sam Lalong (Plateau), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Senator Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), and Abubakar Bello (Niger). There were also former Anambra State Governor’s Jim Nwobodo and Peter Obi, former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, former Benue State Governor George Akume, former Lagos State Governor Lateef Jakande, his wife, Alhaja Abimbola, former Ogun State governors Olusegun Osoba and Gbenga Daniel, former Ekiti State Governor Adeniyi Adebayo, business mogul Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Alhaji Rasak Okoya, Chief Kessington Adebutu, former Lagos State Deputy governors Sarah Sosan, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye and Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, former Ogun State Deputy Governor Segun Adesegun, retired Supreme Court Justice George Oguntade, Oba of Lagos Rilwan Akiolu, Emir of Borgu Alhaji Haliru Dantoro II, Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan, House of Representatives Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila and Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman. Also there were Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, his deputy Wasiu Esinlokun-Sanni, Secretary to Lagos State Government Tunji Bello, Senator Joel Ikenya from Taraba State, Senator Sali Abu, APC National Secretary Mai Buni, APC National Vice Chairman (Southwest) Chief Pius Akinyelure, Alhaji Kashim Imam, former Ministers of State for Defence Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Ademola Seriki, Lagos APC elders Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Oba Olatunji Hamzat, Otunba Busura Alebiosu, Senator Tony Adefuye, Prince Murphy Adetoro, Alhaji Mutiu Are, Pa Abiodun Sunmola, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Chief Akanni Seriki-Bamu, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, one-time Lagos State Finance Commissioner Wale Edun; Senators Babajide Omoworare, Sola Adeyeye, Gbenga Obadara, Adeola Olamilekan, Babafemi Ojudu, Gbenga Ashafa, Third Republic House of Representatives Chief Whip Olawale Oshun, eminent scholar Prof. Adebayo Williams, presidential Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and House of Representatives members Jide Jimoh, Prince Rotimi Agunsoye, James Faleke and former Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Dele Alake. Noting the contributions of Asiwaju Tinubu towards the transformation of Lagos State, President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzu (retd.), said his associates, including Osinbajo and Ambode, had worked for the state’s economic and social regeneration. The President also pointed out that Lagos has now become one of the cleanest states in the country, owing to the renewal programmes of the state government. He saluted Tinubu’s intellectual capacity, hard work, attention to details and ability to picking the right person for the right job. Describing the theme of the colloquium as “very apt”, President Buhari said it was desirable that Nigeria should look inward and develop its economy through the rejection of unnecessary imports and production of goods for home consumption. He said the Federal Government was already putting policies in place to encourage small and medium scale enterprises to promote locally produced goods. Adeosun, who said Nigeria was set to put the economic recession behind it, recalled that the Federal Government had released N1 trillion for capital expenditure to foster a productive economy, The finance minister praised Tinubu for his “foresight” and “sense of direction”, adding that the economic template being replicated by the Federal Government was copied from Lagos State. She said: “The economic template we copied from you is now being implemented for the economic recovery of the country and we are not ashamed to say it. The impact of that template is that many of the states are now copying it, especially in the area of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).” Lamenting the shrinkage of revenue earnings, owing to the slide in oil price, Mrs. Adeosun said Nigeria needed a multiple streams of revenue and a migration from an unproductive economy to a productive economy. She added: “We need to support the economy with the infrastructure needed to create jobs for our young people. We will change Nigeria by consuming what we make for Nigeria to survive.” The minister, who noted that Lagos was working because of its effective tax mechanism, said nobody could blame the state for collecting tax. Giving hints about an aggressive tax drive targeted at the rich, Mrs. Adeosun said the Federal Government will insist on the collection of its rightful tax from evasive rich citizens and corporate organisations. Ambode, who applauded Tinubu for his contributions to the development of Lagos State and Nigeria, likened him to a coconut from which multiple products for varied uses are extracted. He described the former governor as a strategist who is “versatile” and “courageous”, adding that Tinubu is a made-in-Nigeria political product. Ambode said: “Like the coconut, some by-products and fruits will get bad along the way or after being sold in the market. In actual fact, the political product may not be the favourite of some other people. The bottom line, however, is simple. If Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu were a coconut; I dare say, with all simplicity, I would be among the forefront liners that will eat, drink and sleep Bola Ahmed Tinubu 24/7. “There is no doubt the Asiwaju political dynasty is a made-in-Nigeria product. The foundation laid and blueprints developed during his tenure as governor of Lagos State, which cuts across all sections of the state’s economy, have actually simplified the process of governance till date. “His blueprint has continued to serve as a road map to achieving the Lagos of his and our dreams. This same political product, without doubt, traverses the Nigerian landscape and that is evident with the emergence of the APC at the centre in 2015. Asiwaju is a made-in-Nigeria product. We should make more products out of him.” Ambode said the theme of the colloquium was apt, stressing that the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi state, which culminated in the production of the Lake Rice, bore eloquent testimony to the capacity of the country to become a productive nation. He assured all that his administration would continue to improve on the indices of ease of doing business to facilitate the manufacturing of locally made products. Thanking the guests for turning up to honour him, Tinubu said he was happy to celebrate his birthday with a colloquium that has drawn attention to pressing national challenges. He praised the President and the Vice President for working as a team, recalling that when President Buhari temporarily transferred power to his deputy in accordance with the constitution, Osinbajo performed admirably as a loyal subordinate. Tinubu reflected on the state of the economy, urging the Federal Government to press forward in its national industrial policy and national infrastructural plan. He lent his voice to the crusade for a productive economy, saying: “Not only must we use what we make and make what we use, we must fix our minds to make what the world values.” He acknowledged that the Buhari administration had started the process of economic renewal, adding that the reforms to salvage the economy should be supported by Nigerians. The former governor also advised the Federal Government to bring back the giant manufacturing firms that had left the country through novel incentives and creation of a conducive climate. Tinubu said young entrepreneurs should be nurtured, encouraged and assisted to succeed in a bid to harvest their talents for national productivity. Alluding to the positive side of the huge population of the country, he said: “Our task is not to lament their great number, but to reform the political economy in a manner that puts them to productive work.” Urging Nigeria to emulate either England, United States or China in its quest for economic revival, he said no populous modern nation could attain prosperity without creating an industrial base capable of generating employment and a manufacturing base for the production of goods for domestic consumption. Tinubu expressed reservations about the survival of an import-driven economy, wondering why Nigeria was importing goods that could be produced locally, including newsprints. He said Nigeria has competent hands to man its industrial sector, adding that expatriates can only be invited, not to dislodge them, but to give a helping hand. Noting that the monopoly of power generation has been broken through his unprecedented example of investment in the sector as governor of Lagos State, Tinubu implored the Federal Government to embrace other forms of power generation. Tinubu added: “A national economy cannot grow beyond the capacity of the infrastructure that serves it. We must conquer the economic, political and bureaucratic bottlenecks preventing us from achieving affordable, reliable electric power.” Also at the colloquium were Senator Mudashiru Hussaine, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, Mrs. Kemi Nelson, Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), former Minsier of State for Defence Demola Seriki, Ademola Sodiq, Chief Funso Ologunde, Comrade Joe Igbokwe, Funminiyi Afuye, Hon. Bayo Osinnowo, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, Hon. Jide Sanwo-Olu, Suntai Agunbiade, Gbolahan Yishawu, Sola Giwa, Akin Osinbajo, Pa Soyode, Tunde Braimoh, Dr. Omi Finnih, Dr. Samuel Adejare, Mr. Yemi Cardozo, Senator Ayo Arise, Senator Biodun Olujimi, Chief Michael Olawale-Cole, Pa Alabi Macfoy, Hon.Habeeb Fashinro, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi, Hon. Abiodun Mafe, Comrade Ayodele Adewale, Alhaji Yakubu Balogun, Mr. Ayilara, Denge Anifowose, Hon. Funmi Tejuoso, Hon. Akinderu Fatai, Mr. Segun Babatope, Monday Ubani, Folami Lai-Mohammed, Abiodun Mafe, Hon. Abiru, Sesan Olanrewaju, Bolanle Akinyemi-Obe, Mr. Bolaji Sanusi, and Mr. Sunday Dare of the National Communication Commission (NCC).


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