Bola Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate on Tuesday adopted the ‘Build Back Better’ slogan of President Joe Biden of the US at his party’s stakeholder meeting in Cross River.
Tinubu who said he would build in ‘difficult times’ cited how the United States developed its infrastructure during the civil war.
Speaking through his media aide, Tunde Rahman, after the townhall meeting at the Cultural Centre in Calabar, Cross River capital, he stressed that Nigeria’s economy is on an incomplete foundation and that he had what it takes to fix it.
He assured Nigerians and stakeholders of the party from South-South region that he would lead Nigeria to build back better and stronger even in difficult time if elected next President.
“We can build in the middle of difficulty, the US was fighting the civil war and still building rail track. We should focus on the things that we can accomplish. We have a lot – there is the waterfront here, we have minerals here, we have arable land, we must conquer hunger, we cannot allow hunger conquer us,” he said.
Tinubu then promised to work towards industrialisation while also focusing on the production of goods and services across the country.
“My campaign is built on the firm conviction that our greatest good and best deeds still lie in front of us and not in our past.
“The industrialisation of our economy represents a most vital step towards achieving the Nigeria of our dreams.
“From its very beginnings, our nation’s economy was established on an incomplete foundation. It was built to rely too heavily on oil exports. This means we have always experienced a large gap in the national economic structure. Greater industrialisation shall fill this gap through the production of more and better goods which improve our standard of living while creating better jobs, providing workers with a living wage and establishing businesses that will drive this economy for generations to come.
“Because of this gap in our economic structure and the resultant lack of economic activity, Nigeria has experienced unacceptably high rates of unemployment for several decades. The problems this causes for our society are not limited to simply slowing our economic progress. This gap has affected our nation in profound ways, straining the social fabric in ways that no nation wishes for. Now is the time to repair these fissures our country should never have had to experience,” Tinubu said.
“Our industrial policy will prioritise strategic industries vital to the development of our national economy. We will grow the nation’s industrial base to provide decent jobs and improving wages to our nation’s ever increasing urban population.”
Speaking on how they can better achieve this, Tinubu said primary and secondary industrial hubs would be created across each geopolitical zone in the country.
Tinubu also promised to bring Cross River into the industrialisation plan through the state’s resources.
“Our industrial plan encourages manufacturing on a massive scale across the country. Nigeria will become known as a nation that produces high quality goods worthy of export to anywhere in the world. We shall use an array of policy measures. On the fiscal side, we shall employ tax credits and holidays, youth employment incentives, import relief, export credits and well-tailored subsidies where necessary.
“Cross River State will play a leading role in our economic uplift. This state is blessed with limestone, clay, salt, tin, granite, basalt, quartzite, and kaolin deposits in commercial quantities.
“Our policies will afford local artisans and craftsmen throughout the region the necessary tools to provide for their families and, ultimately, boost overall economic activity for the national good. I enjoyed the stimulating cultural entertainment the performers displayed. This is a town hall meeting of great minds, brains and visions. My concern is the development of Nigeria, this is a talented nation and moving this country forward is a task that must be done. Let’s put together and conquer hunger by using the God’s great space on agriculture.”
A major highlight of the townhall was when Tinubu brought Senator John Owen Enoh and Barrister Ekpere Mary and reunited them with Governor Ayade and others.
Tinubu described Cross Rivers as a land of joy and love. “Cross River is blessed in agriculture. Oil palm, rubber, cocoa, cashews, cassava, yam, rice, plantain, and bananas are abundant and already being processed, strengthening the agro-allied value chain in ways that create better jobs and raise the standard of living,” he added.
He also praised Governor Ayade for already starting the industrialisation drive in the state.
“The Ayade-led administration has done tremendous work to develop the processing capacity within the state with the construction of the Ogoja Rice Mill, Ikom Cocoa Mill, Rice Seed and seedling centre.
“The Governor has also gone further to develop the infrastructure for the movement of goods by land with the proposed Super-Highway, by sea with the proposed Bakassi Deep Seaport, and by air with the construction of the Obudu Cargo Airport.”
In his own address at the event, Governor Ayade said the focus of the next administration should be on human beings first and Gross Domestic Product as a measure of economic growth should shift to Human Happiness Index, adding that government must focus on industrialisation to create jobs for the masses.
“We must move from GDP to the Human Happiness Index. When God has empowered you, it is for the people,” said Ayade
The Director-General of APC Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Lalong assured the people that Asiwaju Tinubu has capacity to provide the leadership that will create prosperity for all Nigerians.
“Asiwaju turned mammy water in Lagos ocean to Money Water through his brains,” he added.
Present at the event were the APC vice-presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima, Governor Ben Ayade, Director-General of the campaign council and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, Deputy Director-General and former APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Senator Victor Idoma Egba, former Governor Godswill Akpabio, former Petroleum Minister Don Etiebet, Minister of State Power, Jeddy Agba, and Minister of State Labour, Festus Keyamo, Tinubu pointed out that for the nation to experience economic recovery, less focus should be placed on crude oil while harnessing other areas.
Others at the event were former EFCC Chairman Nuhu Ribadu, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, Chairman of TeTFUND, former Speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, APC National Woman Leader, Beta Edu and other party chieftains.