Speech by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
at the Townhall in Imo State with the Trade Associations | 17 November 2022
I stand before you today with pride and great pleasure.
Pride because I am one of your own, I am your son and brother. As I walked into this meeting, I could not help but think of my late mother. She was a trader and market leader.
But, most of all she was a great mother. Without her love and instruction, I would not be where I am today. I would not have achieved what I have achieved. And I would not have hopes of achieving even more in the coming years.
She gave me the grit and determination which has served me well in politics. More importantly, she taught me that patience, wisdom, tolerance, and generosity are the hallmarks of a good leader, be they a market leader or a candidate aspiring to the highest office of the land.
As I look at you, I cannot help but picture my dear mom. Thus, I must rename this meeting.
It is no longer a town hall. This is a family gathering. And few things can equal the immense pleasure felt in spending time with one’s own family.
Since we are talking about family, let me also thank my brother and friend, Governor Uzodinma for hosting this great event and for what he is doing in this state despite the challenges faced.
When it becomes his time to run again, my only suggestion is that you “RENEW HOPE”.
To all the governors and party leaders present, I thank you too from the bottom of my heart.
To the people of Imo state and the entire Southeast, you are world-renowned for your business acumen. You are known for finding roads even where there are none. I think I share this attribute with you.
Together let us find the road to more production, trade, and economic output. This is the road that will foster increased domestic trade and international exports.
Together we shall find and walk the road of RENEWED HOPE.
REVAMPING THE ECONOMY
Together we must begin to revamp the very structure of our economy.
The day is long gone when we could rely solely on oil to see us through.
If we continue as if oil is our savior, we shall not achieve the greatness that is within our reach.
We would have failed ourselves by not making use of all the talent and resources that God has provided.
We shall build an economy with a growing industrial base, more and better jobs for our youth, and more high-quality home-grown goods to sell and merchandise.
We shall establish industrial hubs throughout the nation and modernize existing ones. We will encourage and facilitate greater production in places like Owerri and Aba. At the same time, we shall broaden opportunities for you to engage in more international commerce by steering more activity toward ports outside of Lagos such as Onne.
I envision the Owerri-Port Harcourt and Aba-Port Harcourt corridors becoming more active and lucrative trade and manufacturing corridors than they already are.
My administration will establish policies that widen your horizons and expand your business reach both in terms of the goods you sell and your geographic reach to new markets.
Working with the state governments, the CBN, and the banking industry, we shall embark on a two-pronged credit revolution.
First, on the sale and supply side, we shall seek to drive down interest rates on business loans, especially for investment in manufacturing as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.
Second, we seek to make consumer loans more available. This will allow more people to afford and buy more high-quality goods from you.
By empowering the consumer, we increase economic activity and prosperity for the overall economy as well as for your businesses.
We will put in place policies that will boost trade and commerce. We will solve the forex crisis and ensure that traders like you have easy access to a unified forex market.
We shall seek to revive struggling industries in this region and throughout the nation.
Working with Governor Uzodinma, we shall continue to push to return Avutu Poultry to its status as a world-class poultry farm. This will increase food and nutrition while creating jobs and giving us a chance to open new markets.
Adapalm can, once again, become a fulcrum of job creation and foreign currency earnings.
The global palm oil market was estimated at 63.6 billion dollars last year. Our nation was once a leader in this sector. We shall be again, by God’s grace.
Building on the unparalleled legacy of President Buhari in the area of infrastructural development, we will ensure that the Sam Mbakwe Airport becomes fully operational to enable the large-scale movement of manufactured goods and agricultural produce.
To move goods and people faster and more cheaply, this region will be integrated into the national rail system first by completing the Abakaliki-Benin arm and then by expanding the system to other parts of the region.
Our national infrastructure plan shall pay great attention to roadways eaten by erosion and flooding. We shall give traders the sound roads they deserve to move goods for the benefit of the rest of the population.
For those of you in the agricultural sector, commodity exchange boards and other measures will be established to better link local markets and farmers with the global economy while also assuring them of minimum prices for their harvests.
The idea is to boost farm incomes, thus giving farmers a greater incentive to produce more.
VISION FOR A BOOMING ECONOMY
Starting in 1999, My team and I developed a blueprint, a master plan, for Lagos. I can say that plan has been largely successful. We did more than open Lagos for business. We opened the door for all Nigerians to join in and experience the sustained benefits that progressive and democratic good governance can bring.
What was achieved in Lagos, we want to achieve on a national scale.
I have already mentioned aspects of my vision. May I say just a bit more about these themes:
Incentives for Industrial Development: In addition to creating industrial hubs, we will use a menu of policies to encourage manufacturing and employment in urban areas. These measures range from tax holidays to youth employment tax and loan credits to subsidies for strategically vital industries.
Increasing and Stabilising Power Supply – No country can develop without inexpensive reliable power. Our power sector plan builds on the present government’s reforms in the power sector. In the spirit of federalism and local innovation, we shall decentralize reform by encouraging states to begin independent power projects.
Expansion of the Digital Economy – Through prudent but practical regulation of the digital space, we shall continue to give our creative young entrepreneurs firm ground on which to further expand this sector. They are already world leaders and shall continue to be so. Millions of new jobs and a multitude of new products shall come from this sector, further spurring our national economy to full employment and development.
Our Creative Industries – We shall not be satisfied by bolstering traditional sectors. We will foster productive excellence in new areas such as the Nollywood entertainment sector and our music industry. There is almost no place on earth where you will not hear our songs are watched Nigerian shows. We shall continue to export the richness of our diverse culture to the rest of the world.
Build Nigeria – We must continue to expand and improve our national infrastructure. In addition to roads and ports that path the way to more commerce, we shall develop a network of irrigation and water management/catchment systems to stem the humanitarian and economic tragedy caused by perennial flooding.
Security – We can hold too little of these good economic things without adequate peace and security. Our response to terror, kidnapping, and violent criminality includes increased manpower, better tactical communications and mobility, and comprehensive training. We will allow no respite to those who heap violence on innocent people.
UNITY AND PEACE
As I conclude, let me say something about the unity of this nation.
For me the unity of this nation is sacrosanct, it is non-negotiable.
However, I realize that many people have genuine and painful grievances in need of fair and durable resolution.
Just as my government will be comprised of people from every section of the country, my government will be ready to discuss legitimate grievances with those in search of a peaceful resolution.
Although over 60 years old, our nation is in its infancy compared to other nations.
We are still learning what it means to be a Nigerian in the fullest sense of the word.
I am proud of how far this nation has come. I also understand the great strides still to be made if we are to build for ourselves a nation of democratic good governance, development, justice, and unity.
I call on you as individuals and as leaders in the business community to join hands with me to achieve prosperity and renewed hope. I call on you to choose to be part of our nation’s golden future. I call on you to align yourselves with the best and only hope for progressive good governance in your region and throughout Nigeria.
This nation now waits at a threshold. Let us, together, cross to the better side to secure our beloved nation and its finer destiny.
Let us take that courageous step! Let us walk toward a better and greater Nigeria.
Thank you for listening. God bless you all.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Owerri, Imo State
17 November 2022