Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday at Chatham House in London unveiled a wide range of issues that will form major policies of administration if elected president in the 2023 general election.
The former Lagos State governor spoke extensively on security, economy and foreign policy, just as he has been addressing stakeholders back home in Nigeria at town hall meetings.
Tinubu who travelled to the United Kingdom to share his thoughts and campaign plans addressed Chatham House for the second time, the first being in 2011.
In 2011, Tinubu spoke at Chatham House on the rebirth of the opposition in Nigerian politics in a session titled, “Democracy and the rebirth of the opposition in Nigeria”.
Chatham House is a global platform for intellectual engagement on different issues of contemporary interest to people around the world.
Speaking yesterday at Chatham House, Tinubu said Nigeria’s role in Africa as a big brother has continued to be a beacon of hope to the continent and the ECOWAS sub-region through now entrenched democratic ideals, having run an unbroken democracy for over two decades.
He said when he becomes Nigeria’s president, his administration would continue to provide quality leadership to the sub-region, to ensure democratic ideals are formed in nations of the ECOWAS region.
In his address titled, “Nigeria’s 2023 elections: Security, economic and foreign policy imperatives,” the APC standard bearer noted that as president, Nigeria, under his watch, will epitomise values of democracy during elections anywhere in Africa by ensuring that democratic ideals are followed and all forms of electoral violence rejected, allowing only the will of the people to prevail.
He said, “Every election, wherever it is held, is important to the people or entity directly concerned. It is also important to the global democracy community as well. Equally, there are also countries whose elections, on account of their weight and influence, carry wider implications way beyond their immediate geographical boundaries. Nigeria is one of such countries.
“I stand firmly against all forms of electoral violence and intimidation. Having spent most of my career in the political opposition, I have long fought against electoral malpractice and any attempts to extinguish the legitimate choice of voters. I will continue to do so.
“And I urge all my fellow contestants in this election to do the same. Let the sovereign will of the people decide the path of our nation. And let this election be determined by voters making their choice freely rather than the domineering intimidation of the troublesome few.
“For one, as Africa’s most populous country and the continent’s largest economy, it is generally acknowledged that the fortunes of the African continent and indeed the Black race is tied directly to the health of Nigeria.
“Also the Nigerian elections of 2023 are coming up at a time when the country’s immediate geographical neighbourhood of West and Central Africa is undergoing serious political turmoil that has manifested itself in the incursion of the military to power in a number of countries. In spite of the legitimate concerns being expressed by observers, Nigerians are resolutely committed to democracy, regardless of their political differences”.
He told the audience at Chatham House that to be fully secure at home, Nigeria had always believed it must be the brothers’ keeper, an understanding he said was the reason Africa’s premier regional economic community, ECOWAS, was established in 1975.
Tinubu added that it was established, ECOWAS has embedded in its mandate, which is the promotion of regional economic integration, as well as undertaking sub-regional peace and security.
“I am convinced, as I am sure most of us are, that the broad principles that enabled successive Nigerian governments to interface development and security, and establish an organic link between national security and economic development with regional peace and prosperity is both impeccable and remains relevant. It is an approach which I commit myself to upholding and advancing,” he noted
His address was intermittently punctuated by thunderous applause by the impressive gathering.
On issue of security, Tinubu promised to tackle the situation the country is facing heads on, so that Nigeria can also effectively provide security supports for its neighbouring nations.
He stated: “The challenges which have manifested themselves with regard to our national and regional development and security trajectories are very well-known to all of us here: radical extremist violence, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, human trafficking, trafficking in weapons, trafficking in drugs, climate change and resource driven conflicts etc. mostly manifesting initially as national problems, these challenges evolved over time into trans-border and multinational challenges.
“We see the thousands of people who have been internally displaced at home or forced into refugee camps abroad. With farming activities disrupted, we have seen shortages of basic food items and food price inflation that are further undermining human security.
“To respond meaningfully to the discontents and to redress the many dislocations arising from them, we must begin by reminding ourselves of that old dictum: Foreign policy is but a continuation of domestic policy.
“As a first step, we must recalibrate domestic policy in order to revamp the foundation on which our quest to pursue human security rests.”
The former Lagos State governor reiterated that effective energy generation and distribution will help build the economy of the nation, promising to improve the framework already in place to boost the generation and distribution of energy across the country.
He also said the nation under his watch would place emphasis on the use of technology to improve the agricultural sector for better production and contribution to the nation’s economy.
He promised to engage the private sector to better drive economic development across the country.
Earlier, the managing director, Ethics, Risk and Resilience, of Chatham House and director, Africa Programme, Dr. Alex Vines OBE, who introduced the APC presidential candidate, described Tinubu as a former governor of Lagos and prominent politician who is no stranger to the House.
Vines who was chairman of the event also noted jocularly that “he has US visa,” apparently referring to the fake news being bandied by political opponents that Tinubu was denied US visa.
Responding to a question on his age and identity, Tinubu said his birthday remains March 29, 1952 and his age and other records are with Chicago State University he attended and Mobil Oil that he worked with and left as Treasurer.
Taking another question on youth development, he said the youths are part of today and the future of the country who the nation needs to invest in for tomorrow.
He also singled out Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu, a youth who he said is running the state that is the 5th largest economy in Africa and who is actualising the legacies he left behind as governor.
Demonstrating his team spirit, he also invited Governors Nasir el-Rufai and Ben Ayade, former Lagos Information Commissioner Dele Alake and APC National Woman Leader Dr Beta Edu to respond to questions that fell within their areas of core competence.
Explaining why he delegated some members of the party to respond to questions posed to him, Tinubu said he adopted the delegation method “to show team-ship”.
Tinubu said: “Let me demonstrate here one of those philosophies and doctrines that I believe firmly in. It is team-ship, unbreakable team. To demonstrate that, I’ll assign it to my team,” he said.
At the lecture, Tinubu after his opening remarks, assigned Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to speak on how his government would address insecurity,
He also asked the director of Strategic Communication of the APC presidential campaign council, Dele Aleke, to respond to the question on oil theft.
Tinubu also delegated a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Wale Edun, to respond to a question on how he (Tinubu) would boost the economy if elected.
Others who were delegated by Tinubu to answefr questions are Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; former Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi; APC national women leader, Dr Betta Edu
Tinubu Supporters Engage Reno Omokri Outside Chatham House
Meanwhile, Tinubu’s yesterday gave a former presidential aide and ardent supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a hectic day in front of Chatham House in London.
In a viral video Omokri and Tinubu’s supporters were seen embroiled in a shouting match.
As Omokri was chanting “Tinubu, drugs, Tinubu, heroine,” in a bid to discredit the APC standard bearer, Tinubu’s supporters sank his voice with shouts of “Tinubu for president.” They also sang, “On your mandate we shall stand.”
In another video, Omokri and some persons holding placards were seen shouting, “Tinubu, ole (thief),” while the Tinubu supporters suppressed the ole with shouts of “president”, making it look like Omokori and his group were campaigning for the APC candidate.
Tinubu’s Performance At Chatham House Is National Disgrace, Says PDP Campaign Council
But the Atiku/Okowa campaign organization yesterday described the performance of the APC presidential canidate, Tinubu at the Chatham House, United Kingdom, as a pathetic display of vacuity.
Spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa campaign organisation, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Nigerians including supporters of the APC Presidential Candidate were embarrassed to watch Tinubu “who earlier showboated with a scripted speech went blank on the world stage in tragic display of emptiness and inability to personally address questions that were put to him on economy, security and other challenges facing our nation.”
He added: “Our Campaign finds it very appalling that a candidate aspiring to be the President of a nation as complex as Nigeria exhibited an embarrassing inability to coordinate his own thought process to the extent that he could not personally think through issues and address them but had to direct questions put to him including those on his health and policies to others to answer.
“Asiwaju Tinubu has confirmed to Nigerians and the world that he has no business contesting the 2023 Presidential election; that he is grossly incompetent, completely unprepared for leadership and intends to transfer the onerous task of leading our nation to proxies and a cabal that did not seek votes from Nigerians.
“Of course, Nigerians cannot afford to have a President who cannot take responsibility to lead but intends to shift the burden to others apparently to find scapegoats to blame for his inevitable failures.”
He added that the APC Presidential Candidate ended up becoming a butt of international joke as he could not provide any lead on the critical issues of economy, security, youth development and foreign policies, despite notes passed to him at the event by his handlers.