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Nigeria: I take full responsibility, we must manage the hardship with wisdom – Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday appealed for patience from Nigerians over the current economic hardship in the country, giving the assurance that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

The president said he was fully aware and took responsibility for the difficulties Nigerians had been subjected to on account of government policies.

He said he would not complain but welcome all criticism since he was the one who asked to be Nigeria’s president.

The President spoke in Akure, the Ondo State capital, during his visit to the leader of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure.

He also paid a condolence visit to the family of the late former Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who passed away in December following a protracted battle with cancer.

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Late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state

The fuel subsidy removal and other economic reforms instituted by Tinubu have attracted public censure following the high cost of living, food inflation, and other side effects.

The situation compelled the Nigeria Labour Congress to hold a nationwide protest on Tuesday.

The Congress also threatened further mass action if the government failed to address the economic crunch within two weeks.

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However, addressing public concerns over his economic policies, the president said, “Nigeria will survive the current economic challenges. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I requested the job, and I am not complaining about it. I take full responsibility.”

This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled, ‘President Tinubu: I take full responsibility for the nation; we are building an efficient Nigeria that is inclusive and fair to all Nigerians.’’

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Tinubu emphasised his commitment to leading Nigeria towards economic and social prosperity, saying, “We are meeting our obligations to the international community. To lenders, we have not defaulted, and we are not going to default. We are navigating the twists and bends on the road to Nigeria’s prosperity.”

On reforming Nigeria, the President said his task would be to ensure fiscal and true federalism, as well as the broad-based manifestation of the philosophy that “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

He acknowledged the understanding and support of all Nigerians in the face of the harsh but temporary economic conditions, assuring them that their patience and perseverance would not be fruitless.

“But, through perseverance, Lagos emerged as the fifth largest economy in the entire continent of Africa. We must manage this moment with wisdom and grow Nigeria responsibly.

“I campaigned for this office to serve Nigeria’s interests, and I was elected. Some said I would not last in the tribunal and came up with all sorts of predictions, but even when in court, I remained focused.

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“We cannot allow Nigeria’s economy to be exploited. We cannot abandon our economy to marauders. I am determined to re-engineer our finances and curb selfish interests permanently,” he stated.

Speaking on behalf of Afenifere, Pa Olu Falae, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation who read the address of Pa Fasoranti, commended Tinubu for his commitment to Nigeria’s progress and expressed support for his administration’s efforts.

“You have kept your word to return to this place where we all prayed for you, and this shows that you are a man of your word,” the elder statesman stated.

Pa Fasoranti asked President Tinubu to be fair and courageous, declaring that such traits were the hallmark of the Afenifere family.

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“Today, you are carrying our flag. We are noted for integrity, competence, fairness, and courage. Your performance so far has shown that you understand the full gravity of your mandate, which is to show the Nigerian people that a good government is possible,” he said.

Fasoranti also charged the President with institutional reforms, saying, “Mr. President, please also seek institutional reforms that would strengthen our federation and make Nigeria safer and more prosperous. Try to balance the budget and execute capital projects that would create more employment. We thank you for welcoming the idea of state policing.’’

He added, “We want each of the geopolitical zones to have greater responsibilities for security, food production, and infrastructural development. Since the removal of the fuel subsidy, which was costing Nigeria $10 billion a year, the state governments have been receiving hefty allocations from the Federation account.

“Mr. President should persuade the governors to allow this change of fortune for the states to reflect at the grassroots so that life can be better for our people. They should not just buy rice and yams for the people. They should create employment, improve education, and build new infrastructure. Today, life is truly challenging for most people, and state governments have an important role to play in transforming society.”

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Fasoranti received the president in the company of some Afenifere leaders, who included a former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa, Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo, and Chief Kole Omololu, among others.

Earlier, the President paid a condolence visit to Akeredolu’s family in Owo and also visited the palace of the Olowo of Owo Kingdom, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III.

Speaking at the palace of the monarch, Tinubu eulogised the late Akeredolu as a statesman and a distinguished legal luminary who served his people with unwavering dedication.

“We lost an illustrious son. Akeredolu was very close to me and an ally. He was a son of the soil, and I have come to pay homage,” the president said.

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He extended his prayers for the good health, progress, and prosperity of the traditional ruler and the community, and he thanked the people of Owo for their support of the bereaved family.

Accompanied by the Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Tinubu also commiserated with Akeredolu’s widow, Betty, the children, and other family members.

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Addressing the widow and the family members, Tinubu said, “God will be with you. Your children will do well in life. May you all end well. May God be with you and uphold you.”

The wife of the late governor expressed appreciation for the president’s visit, describing Tinubu as a good friend and brother to her late husband.

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Mrs Betty Akeredolu, First Lady of Ondo State

Mrs Betty Akeredolu

She also thanked the South-West governors for their contributions to the burial of the late governor. She particularly thanked the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for single-handedly repatriating the remains of Akeredolu back to Nigeria.

She said, “On behalf of my family, I appreciate Mr. President. We understood he couldn’t attend the burial ceremony due to the dictates of Yoruba culture. He couldn’t have attended the burial of his younger brother.

“Coming today is a big deal because we are in a better atmosphere. I also express my profound gratitude to the southern governors for their immense financial contributions to the burial, most especially Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who singlehandedly brought Aketi’s remains back to Nigeria. We appreciate this huge show of love, and we are grateful and forever indebted to him.

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Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu

“I requested that Mr. President see where Aketi has been laid to rest, and he followed me. We are deeply grateful to Mr. President for coming. He is indeed Aketi’s brother and friend.

“I told Mr. President, yes, Aketi has left, but he lives because he left behind legacies. It is our wish that those legacies continue and are built upon where necessary, Punch News reported.”

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