- Osinbajo, Ambode, others eulogise former Lagos governor at 67
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to implement bold economic reforms so that his administration can pull Nigerians out of poverty.
Speaking at a colloquium held in Abuja on Thursday to mark his 67th birthday, Tinubu said the party must not discard the promises contained in its next level document.
“You see, Next Level is not just a trendy campaign phrase to be quickly discarded once victory has been achieved.
“To be the great nation we purport to be, we must reform and retool our economy according to our definition of what is best for our own people. We cannot assign that duty to anyone else,” he said.
Going forward, the APC national leader said “the country’s economy must be redefined to be an efficient yet moral social construct with the primary goal of optimizing the long-term welfare of the people through the sustained, productive and full employment of labour, land, capital and natural resources”.
Tinubu who quoted economic forecasters as predicting that there will be a global recession within the next 12-18 months, said this was not meant to frighten anyone but instead to help the government to implement appropriate policies.
Tinubu also cautioned that the pursuit of the Next Level agenda cannot be achieved by blindly following the economic path of other nations, adding that it would be tantamount to embracing policies that may not favour the country.
He said: “Instead, we must construct our Next Level on a progressive ideology and vision that will take our people out of penury, diversify our economy more aggressively, and empower and retrain our youth,” .
Tinubu advised Federsl Government against pushing for additional layer of taxes, adding that instead efforts should be made to effectively bring more persons and organizations into the tax net so as to increase revenue earnings for the country.
Still speaking on the way forward for the country’s economy, Tinubu said Nigeria must divorce itself from the fixation that GDP rates and similar statistics were an end in itself.
He said to pull the nation from poverty, government must play a decisive role.
According to Tinubu, the goverment must at times direct and even develop markets and opportunities.
He said the Buhari administration should work to increase electricity generation, transmission and distribution by more than 50 percent within the next 4 years.
Tinubu however said that serious and bold reform was needed to achieve desired goals, including revisiting of the privatisation carried in the sector.
In addition, Tinubu said Nigerian electricity consumers should no longer be made to pay for electricity bills they did not consume.
While faulting the privatisation exercise in the power sector, Tinubu said: “The PDP administration shared out generation, distribution and transmission to their friends and cronies without very deep and thoughtful research and evaluation. It has now become pork chops.
“This privatisation must be revisited. Put experts together for a more constructive reform to improve generation, transmission and distribution by any means necessary. We cannot afford to be too legalistic about this.”He said President Buhari should dedicate himself to changing the very structure of the country’s economy during his second term.
Tinubu who was in a celebratory mood, also said he and other leaders of the APC deserved kudos for defeating the Peoples Democratic Party in the last presidential election.
Earlier the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who represented the chairman of the event, President Muhammadu Buhari, said the administration was determined to implement infrastructural projects considered as critical to its Next Level agenda.
On the commitment of President Buhari to the next level agenda of the APC, Osinbajo said the president may not be an orator but he is known to be an action man, who is always ready to get things done.
Osinbajo went down memory lane to recount some of the exploits made by Tinubu in the area of politics and governance.
The Vice President said as the leader of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Tinubu successfully reclaimed control of some states in the South West zone by using forensic evidence to void the governorship elections in the courts.
He said Tinubu also excelled in the governance of Lagos state by appointing credible professionals from outside Lagos into his cabinet.
Also while welcoming dignitaries at the event, Lagos state governor, Akinwumni Ambode, described Tinubu as a man of undoubted courage and political dexterity.
He said the birthday colloquium came at the appropriate time when the APC-led administration was on the verge of harnessing initiatives to enable it deliver on the Next Level promises made to Nigerians during the last general election.
The Minister of Commerce, Okechukwu Enelama, who was one of the guest speakers said that Federal Government had put in place all the critical elements to actualise the Next Level agenda.
He also said that massive industrialisation and structural transformation were among the key focus the Federal Government’s plan.
According to the minister, the target is to create about five million jobs which will in turn lead to further creation of additional 12 million new jobs.
The colloquium titled: “Work for the people.” was attended by several APC bigwigs, governors and top goverment officials who extolled the former Lagos state governor.