Posted By: Emmanuel Oladesu
APC stalwart condemns bad belle letters
Buhari, Osinbajo, governors extol celebrator
All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Tinubu yesterday advised Nigerians not to accept the apologies tendered by the People s Democratic Party (PDP) for its mistakes while in power.
Speaking at his 66th birthday’s colloquium in Lagos, the former lagos State governor described the apology tendered last week byPDP National Chairman Uche Secondus as “deceitful”, meant to hoodwink Nigerians to get a political advantage.
He said the apology cannot change the effect of the damage already done to the economy.
”Nigerians should not accept PDP’s apologies, they are corrupt, they lied, they falsified, they changed figures.
“For 16 years, they made fake promises, gave us fake figures, and they tell us, ‘Don’t talk about it’.
“It is like, after catching a thief and he tells you, ‘Don’t look at me, go and steal your own’. We are soldering on. We have a good leader to rely on. We have hope.”
At the colloquium, which is the 10th edition, were President Miuhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, host Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and many other governors, lawmakers, ministers, past governors, past ministers, traditional rulers, top industrialists and other categories of people and associates of the celebrator.
The former governor also chided (although without making direct reference to him) former President Olusegun Obasanjo for writing a letter advising President Muhammadu Buhari not to contest in 2019, besides castigating his administration.
Tinubu said it was was full of bile.
He added: “My grandmother used to send me to a letter writer. Someone is writing letters these days, a letter of politics as if they have never been there before. Bad belle letters.
“The ship of state was about to wreck, but President Buhari steered the ship back. The voyage is the voyage of hope. We are reinventing and re-directing Nigeria. It is not an easy voyage to embark on.”
An excited Tinubu was full of praises for the President, the vice president, governors, legislators and other dignitaries who came to honour him. He also thanked his wife, Oluremi, “for tolerating hme”, adding that she had no choice.
He applauded Ambode for his exceptional commitment to the progress and economic development of Lagos State.
In an obvious reference to the endorsement of the governor for a second term by stakeholders, Tinubu said after many work, “the result is more work”.
He also hailed the cordial relations between the governor and his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule.
Acknowledging Ambode’s achievements, Tinubu said: “I can see what the government is doing with so little. It has produced results.”
The former governor traced the genesis of the Buhari administration to the epic battle to effect a change in the polity, stressing that Nigeria has reaped the dividends.
He said: “We came as APC leaders with a lot of hope. We were discussing. We believe in ourselves and Nigeria, that we can change Nigeria. And we are still going to do it again. It came with challenges. Our logo is not honey or sugar, but broom; a united Nigeria against terrorism, corruption, insecurity and for the revival of the economy.”
Tinubu disagreed with people who said the APC should stop reminding Nigerians about the corrupt activities of the Jonathan administration. He said a great lesson could be learnt from the perfidy of the former ruling party.
He said: “They say we should not talk about corruption. What should we talk about? If we don’t talk about it, what is the lesson to all Nigerians?”
Tinubu, who thanked Nigerians for their patience and support for the APC government, said the PDP should not return to power to continue what he called the looting of the economy.
He added: “Forget those parties. They won’t come back. We did not envisage that there would be no such challenges. So, we report back to Nigerians about what we found on ground. We did not say that there would be no challenges because, even America is facing challenges.
“PDP looted and wasted our resources. They misused our resources. There is a clear understanding here. There is a difference between us and them, a difference between night and day.”
Tinubu, who spoke on the importance of a re-invigorated pension scheme, promised to write prepare a technical paper for the President on the crucial matter.
He added: “The challenge of the economy is on. We should consider micro-credit. We should return to the mortgage culture to reduce corruption. We need to rework the pension. I will submit a proposal on how we can stimulate the economy. We don’t have to pay for a house of N10 million in one day and with cash. We need mortgage. This would discourage corruption.
“Hope is back. We have the audacity of it. We will bring back Nigeria to the path of progress and banish poverty forever.”
As Tinubu was called to the podium, his supporters in the hall launched it a song: “On your mandate we shall stand” Ambode joined to sing the song.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who chaired the event, acknowledged the celebrator as a “strategist” and “a fountain of ideas”, adding that he is a party chieftain and a friend whose care for the people and contributions to the progress of Nigeria and Africa should be appreciated.
The President arrived at the venue around 11.30 am, after inaugurating the Ikeja Terminal Bus Stop.
He flew in a chopper from the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport to the Victoria Island venue.
He was accompanied by host Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, his wife, Bolanle, Mrs. Idiat Adebula and some ministers.
The colloquium’s theme is “Investing in people”. Some beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s social investment and school feeding programmes shared their experiences, stressing how the programmes had impacted their lives.
The highlights of the colloquium included a stage play directed by Ifeooma Fafunwa, titled: “The power of 200 million people”, multimedia presentations on the theme, expositions on “Social Investment and Governance-The example of NSIP” by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme by its National Programme Coordinator, Mrs.Abimbola Adesanmi and N-Power Programme and job creation by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and Youth Employment, Afolabi Imoukhuede.
There were also the Northeast Makeathon by the Special Assistant to the Vice President on Internally Displaced Persons, Brimah Mohammed and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme by a presidential adviser, Maryam Uwais.
The toast to the celebrator was proposed by Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, who said Tinubu’s life exemplified sacrifice, courage and hope, which the Christian season of lent symbolized.
Paying tribute to the former Lagos State governor, Obaseki said: “As a senator, two-time governor; in fact, a governor of governors; he was one of the most strategic politicians, who has shaped the progressive politics in the country and someone who has invested in people. I thank Asiwaju Tinubu for encouraging fresh thinking in our politics and encouraging people like me to enter politics.”
The vice president praised Tinubu for his heroic struggles, his resilience and numerous battles for the progress of society, saying the best time is yet to come”.
Prof. Osinbajo told the beautiful story of the conception, implementation and progress of the yearly colloquium in the last one decade, recalling that Tinubu’s aides when he was governor decided to use it as a platform for discussing matters of great national importance.
The vice president, who was Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the defunct Tinubu administration, said the colloquium took off as part of efforts to sustain Tinubu’s struggles as a fighter and people-oriented politician.
He said Tinubu ran an unusual government in the Centre of Excellence, provoking a great deal of arguments, which he deliberately permitted to secure access to different shades of opinion.
Osinbajo recalled: “One of the issues that generated argument as it is still generating arguments today, was the Land Use Act. The Land Use Act generated arguments at the Government House, Ikeja among members of the State Executive Council; with people like myself, Wale Edun, Alake, Cardoso, Lai Mohammed. When Asiwaju was losing the argument, he retorted: ‘Why? Are you the person they voted for? He stormed out of the meeting. Then, he came back, only to see that we were still there. When he stormed out, he came back with some facts, after making some consultations.”
Hailing Tinubu for laying the foundation for progress, Osinbajo said he allowed the leaders he had made to develop, criticise and contradict his ideas.
The vice president thanked President Buhari for giving him the opportunity and a free hand to coordinate the social intervention programme of the administration.
He said to ensure transparency, an inter-ministerial group consisting of some ministers was set up to supervise the programe.
Osinbajo said the APC was determined to change the country by halting the personalisation of the commonwealth by a few corrupt politicians.
He said Buhari wanted to effect that change by fulfiling his campaign promises of security, economic revival, job creation and war against corruption.
The vice president added: “If we waited for long to give jobs, many would have given up. Therefore, we invested in agriculture and it has been a tremendous success. This has led to job creation. Like the President said of his native state, people are no more leasing out land to other farmers from outside Katsina. And I will add this joke, not only are more people now going to hajj; they are also taking more wives.”
Osinbajo said the Buhari administration paid attention to social security, despite the fall in the oil price and shrinking of national revenue. He said over 200,000 jobs had been provided, 300,000 in the pipeline and 300,000 are beneficiaries of the micro-loans
The vice president lamented that corruption has done serious damage to the economy, blaming the defunct PDP administration for the predicament.
He said: “The corruption of the previous five years destroyed our economy.” The Buhari administration will continue to decry the evil because the country cannot afford to go the same way, Osinbajo said.
He said the Treasury Single Account (TSA) exposed the corrupt tendencies of the past administration.
Osinbajo stressed: “People cornered resources of the people and used the resources against the people. We will not allow that. APC will continue to make a difference. In the period of abundance, the past administration claimed it spent only N139 billion in the three ministries of Power, Works And Housing. This administration has spent N560 billion at a time we are earning 50 per cent less than the previous revenue. They were stealing the money.”
Lamenting the impact of corruption on socio-economic development, he added: “No country that allows its resources to be plundered can become a great country.”
Noting that corruption is fighting back, the vice president said the government was determined to sustain the battle against graft.
He added: “Three billion US dollars was lost to the scam in the oil sector. That amounts to one trillion naira. We are using the same amount to construct the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Road, the Second Niger Bridge, Kano-Maiduguri Road, and Lagos-Abeokuta Road. Criminality must not be allowed. Criminals must be brought to book. We receive 50 percent less, yet, we spend more on social infrastructure. The government of Buhari has chosen to remain on the side of the people.”
President Buhari, who spoke after Osinbajo, threw the audience into laughter when he said he ordinarily should have nothing to say again after the legal luminary had made a brilliant speech that drew a loud ovation.
He said: “After the speech of the vice president, I wonder what else I would say. I would stick to my speech and I would rely on your judgment to see how I operate with such a brilliant vice president.”
Paying tribute to Tinubu, the President said: “I am here to celebrate the birthday of my friend and political partner. He is well known as a political strategist. I have come to see him as a man who cares about the people and I appreciate his contributions to the progress of the people of Nigeria and Africa.”
Lauding the organisers of the colloquium for the theme, President Buhari said Nigeria was approaching a new dawn where insecurity will give way to security, corruption will be defeated and prosperity will replace poverty.
He stressed the importance of investing in people, adding that, by doing so, tomorrow will be better than today and good will triumph over evil.
Buhari emphasised that his administration was laying a good foundation by bringing people from various ethnic groups to a peaceful relationship.
He said “we depend on people to govern”, adding that the government’s investment must touch the lives of the people.
Buhari said: “We seek to rebuild what was wrongly constructed. We must invest in people. Our investment in critical areas have impacted immensely on our people. We have set Nigeria on an irreversible direction of growth and development. We are resolute in our commitment to making Nigeria great.”