2023: Nigeria needs Tinubu at a time like this —Shettima


…Says if Nigeria fails, Africa has failed

…Other options are no match for Tinubu

Joel Oladele, Abuja

The running mate to the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Kashim Shettima has described Tinubu as the right man God has prepared to rescue Nigeria at such a time like this that the nation is ravaged with a lot of challenges.

Shettima made this assertion in Abuja on Tuesday while speaking during a one-day public symposium organized by APC Professionals with the theme: “Dissecting the Asiwaju Manifesto – Renewed Hope 2023.”

The symposium among other things examined the Tinubu Panacea for a Safe and Secure Nigeria, the Tinubu Economic Blueprint for National Prosperity, the Tinubu Infrastructure Roadmap for Nigeria’s Development, and the Tinubu Judicial and Law Reform for Nigeria.

According to the former Borno State governor and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, the nation is lagging behind in many ways and cannot afford to gamble with its choice of leader in 2023.

He added that Nigeria is the pride of the black race, and if Nigeria fails, Africa as a whole has failed.

He urged Nigerians to look beyond ethnicity, religion and political affiliation and rather vote for superiority of ideas and track records.

“Other nations are talking about edge computing, phantom computing, blockchain, internet of things and big data while we are wasting our time and energy talking about farmers and herdsmen clashes, geography and geography of the places of our worship. And our former colonial masters have elected Rishi Sunak, a first generation Hindu immigrant as the prime minister of Britain after their romance with tribalism with Liz Truss failed spectacularly.

“Right now the home secretary of Britain is of Indian descent. The foreign minister, James Cleverly is of Sierra Leonean descent and the Secretary for international trade, kemi badenoch is of Nigeria descent.

“What is important your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, is how to reposition the Nigeria nation because the trajectory of global growth is facing Africa and Nigeria will make or mar that transition. And how do you go about it, the respect that the black man gets in the world is directly proportional to the respect of the nation Nigeria. If Nigeria fails, Africa has failed.

“And the global economy sadly is currently heading towards a recession. The bank of England has predicted that England is going to go through a very long and deep recession. In the upcoming winter our former colonial masters are backsliding to the status of a third world nation because 70 per cent of UK citizens will have a choice between heating or eating. That is how bad it is.

“I’m an eternal optimist but I’m also a realist. We cannot shield ourselves from the global realities in Ukraine and we are going to be confronted with it in the coming weeks and months. It is very crucial. 2023 is going to be a watershed in the history of this country.

“As I always say we are not preparing for the Olympics but an institution that thrives on the superiority of ideas and track records. If it is based on superiority of ideas and track records, then Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the best,” Shettima said

Reeling out the achievements of Tinubu when he was the governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007, Shettima said the enabling environment created by him is the reason Lagos has attracted a lot of investments in recent time, citing Dangote Refinery at Lekki as an example.

“We just spoke about the Lagos Deep Sea Port that is the largest in Nigeria and one of the largest deep sea ports in Africa. It is going to handle about 2.5million tonnes per annum.

“Thirty years ago you will see babalawo sacrificing black cows along the shores of the bar beach because of the quality his ideas. Here you have Eko Atlantic city that will give accomodation facilities to about 250 thousand Nigerians and 150 thousand others that will be employed there.

“I spent a night in that edifice and it was quite amazing. I was in the middle of the ocean. Where are the mermaids to come and torment us. So, when I was to speak in Minna about three days ago, I was curious about what he accomplished in the agricultural sector in Lagos. Because Lagos with a landmass of 3577 square kilometers is the smallest state in Nigeria.

“Borno with 70,868 square kilometers which means we can put 21 of Lagos inside. And lo and behold the largest rice mill in Africa and the third largest in the world is located in Idumota, Lagos on a sprawling 37 hectares of land with the rice mill alone occupying 8.75 hectares  that will provide direct jobs to 1,500 Nigerians and indirectly 254 thousand jobs for Nigerians. That will produce 2.8 million bags of 50kg rice per annum is a product of somebody’s imagination.

“Talk about Aliko Dangote refinery, it is the largest single train refinery in the world that has the capacity to refine 650,000 barrels of oil per day. It’s a 25 billion dollars investment. He had the option of siting it in Okitipupa, Ondo State, he also had the option of siting it in Ogun.

“Because of the ambience and enabling environment created by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his team, that edifice is in Lekki in Lagos State. And when he became the Governor, Lagos was generating N600million as the IGR, now Lagos generates N62billion and Lagos is the fifth largest economy in Africa and It’s projected to be third by the end of the decade.

“When I first got a job in Lagos in 1993, I had to beg my mother over 2 weeks before she allowed me to go. Then, the fear of Lagos for an average northerner was the beginning of wisdom. Before she allowed me to go, they had to assemble people to pray for me, not for me to progress in Lagos but for my safety, so that I can come back in one piece to Maiduguri.

“That was how bad things were, and I want you to compare the situation 30 years ago and what it is now. Now Lagos is the safest city in West Africa. People are coming from all over the world for holidays in Lagos. This is where leadership is very crucial for growth.”

Speaking further, Shettima said the other options are no match for Tinubu as they don’t have what it takes to bring about the desired change Nigerians crave.

He also used the opportunity to highlight how he was able to transform Borno State even amidst security challenges when he was the governor of the state.

“What are the options available. I don’t want to mention the wole-wole incident, I respect Waziri, he’s an elder statesman that I hold in high esteem, I will not question his nationality, no. He’s a bonafide Nigerian. Peter Gregory Obi, I call him Gregory. Gregory is also my friend but Gregory has absolutely nothing to offer apart from dubious statistics. So the choice is before us.

“Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, there is a difference between daylight and darkness. It’s a bit of sounding immodest when the elder statesman, Otunba Gbenga Daniel mentioned that there are 8 thousands tractors in Nigeria. I’m a humble man, I don’t like to blow my trumpet but it’s captured in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart that you have to learn to to blow your own trumpet.

“Half of the agricultural equipment in Nigeria are in Borno. There are less than 50 combined harvesters in the whole of Nigeria, there are 25 in Borno. I am an agricultural economist by training, a banker by profession and a politician by calling. And I invested in the entire agricultural value chain.

“Vivian Greene said, ‘You don’t wait for the storm to be over, you learn to dance in the rain.’ In the height of the Boko Haram, I was able to assemble some of the brightest minds you could ever find in the country. Audu Ogbe, Engineer Ibrahim was my honorary Special Adviser on industries. We traveled across the world, China to India, to USA, Pakistan, everywhere looking for intermediate equipment. Entrepreneurial capitalism is embedded in the very psyche of an average Nigerian but what our people are lacking is the wherewithal for you to place them on the ladder of development and the government has to play that role.”

He also expressed the readiness of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to interface with the professionals if elected as it has always been his style to put the right peg in a round hole.

“Infrastructure, you are our leaders, the professionals are our leaders. You are the ones that will show us the way. We will be humble enough to interface with you to cross fertilize our ideas with you. No one is an island unto himself. We have to come together as a nation, as a people.

“This is a great nation in chains. Chained by ineptitude, chained by corruption, chained by stupidity and naivety. We steal so much as if stealing is going out of fashion. Some have stolen so much that even if they extend their lifespan to 300 years, they may not exhaust what they have stolen. We have to change.

“We have to give it to Buhari, he has done his best in terms of infrastructure. Our problem is not a debt but a revenue issue. That’s one fundamental thing that my elder statesmen, Former deputy Governor of Lagos State, Femi Pedro can attest to.

“The highest budget we have ever gotten was 31 billion dollars, that was under former president Jonathan in 2013 or thereabout and what was the highest performance, less than 50%. Let us compare it to Brazil with a similar population, had a budget of 656 Billion dollars with a performance of 90%. So, we have to wear our thinking caps, think outside the box and come up with robust solutions. We have the intellect, we have the capacity. Let’s get the right people to do the job,” he said.