*Vows to turn Nigeria’s story around, convert challenges to opportunities for development
Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has promised entrepreneurs that he would turn Nigeria’s present challenges into opportunities for growth and development.
He also promised to work towards creating a better security in the country to allow them an enabling environment to do their businesses.
Tinubu was speaking at the business luncheon with business owners titled “Business Forward” on Thursday at the Wings, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The APC candidate said since it is the responsibility of government to secure lives and properties of citizens, if elected, his administration would make that its priority, the same way he did when he was Lagos State governor.
According to him, business and insecurity cannot thrive side by side. He was joined at the event by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu, Group Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc, Wale Tinubu, former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole, former Commissioners in his administration in Lagos, Messers Yemi Cardozo and Dele Alake, former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, and Hadiza Bala Usman, among others.
The business entrepreneurs raised issues around education, healthcare development, electricity, investment climate, multiple exchange rates and prevailing oil subsidy, asking how he would deal with the challenges.
Tinubu, in his address, specifically addressed the pressing issue of fuel subsidy and what he will do as president. He promised to take bold decisions that will turn the economy around and one of such will be a firm decision on fuel subsidy, saying Nigeria will not continue to subsidise fuel consumption in neighbouring countries.
“How can we be subsidising fuel consumption of Cameroon, of Niger, of Benin Republic? No matter how long you protest, we are going to remove subsidy,” he said emphatically.
On security, he said: “First, the primary responsibility of government is to protect the lives, properties, and prosperity of its citizens.
“As Governor of Lagos, fixing the difficult security situation I inherited was the first item on my list. Only after we secured the state and changed its reputation for the better, could we embark on the economic reforms that have ultimately produced the vibrant and active megacity of today.
“I am committed to securing Nigerians from violence and the fear of such violence. Terror, kidnapping and banditry have no place in the society I envision. Upon entering office, we will move to implement several measures:
— We will increase the numbers of our military and non-military security forces. Specialist anti-terrorist battalions with integrated special forces units shall also be established.
— Our Critical National Infrastructure Protection Plan will deploy aerial and ground surveillance technology to surveil the most dangerous areas and secure our country’s vital national infrastructure and installations.
— We shall acquire and upgrade the tactical communications and mobility of our troops and security personnel. We must also devote greater attention to the care and welfare of our military and security forces who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe.
— In sum, our objective is to be able to outmaneuver, outwit and outflank the terrorists and criminal groups. They want to defeat our democratic and good society. We shall defeat their evil one.
“We did it in Lagos with the RRS Scheme. We can do it again for Nigeria.
“As we fight insecurity, we must deal with our economy at the same time. We know that business and insecurity cannot thrive side by side.”
He said his government would give room to allow the private sector to thrive by not interfering, while opening rooms for collaborations.
“Thus, where the private sector is doing well, my government will not interfere. Our guiding principle regarding economic policy shall be to provide the right policy framework so that business can flourish.
“But I want to do more than help existing businesses to exist. We must create the space where new sectors and lines of business can open. We must grow this economy so that it can accommodate over 200 million people with a decent standard of living.
“My government will collaborate with the private sector to bring about massive infrastructural renewal that enhance economic opportunities, lower business cost and overheads while producing jobs that spur further growth and development through increased consumer demand. This is the virtuous economic cycle we seek to create,” he added.
He then shared his plans for boosting the country’s economy. “From our national infrastructural campaign to our national portable water campaign and plans to reticulate major dams, our intention is to leverage public private partnerships to attract private sector investment along the critical path leading from modernization of infrastructure to realization of sustainable yet significant economic growth.
“Please also note the various sectors in which we have promised fiscal incentives, tax breaks, tax credits, rebates and access to finance.
“My aim is to develop local manufacturing and value-added businesses. My aim is to deepen consumer lending, increase affordable housing and provide business owners with low-cost loans to modernize operations and improve productivity. My aim is to reform the structural foundation of our economy. To accomplish this major feat, government and the private must work hand in hand.
“Our policy will further stimulate our world-leading start-up ecosystem. I want our brilliant entrepreneurs to continue to innovate our people out of poverty and lead us towards the path of prosperity.
“But I must also say we shall not be afraid to regulate wisely. We cannot allow instances like the collapse of FTX to happen here. We must protect business, consumer and investor confidence in equal proportion.”
The former Lagos State governor also touched on improving the nation’s power sector which he said is critical to any economic development and strengthening the health sector.
On the demands and inputs of the participants, Tinubu said, “Indeed, I have been assured by the organizers that the secretariat is already collating your inputs so that your contributions can be melded into our plans”.