Nigerians should be proud of how much progressive politics has helped in tackling our challenges of development in seven years. It all started when Buhari’s CPC, Tinubu’s ACN and Oyegun’s ANPP as well as others came together to pull off the greatest political coalition in Nigeria’s history.
They, through the ballot, booted out an incumbent president, routed at the 2015 general elections a party that boasted of being the biggest in Africa and had wished to retain power for at least 50 years – in the first instance. Were these coalition men our national heroes? Or was their effort for vain glory? While we have not arrived where we wanted, we have made progress as a nation in search of direction, development and reforms towards a better and more accountable polity.
For those who forget too easily, in 2015, the Federal Government and most state governments were borrowing just to pay salaries of their workers. Governments could not meet the burden of their recurrent expenditures alone. This appalling situation necessitated the “state bailout funds” the Buhari Administration sourced and disbursed so early in its life.
Yet governments had stacked up a debt burden of over 63 billion dollars. To boot, there was no infrastructure, no tangible capital projects on this debt bill and, as we saw, governments at all levels could not pay their workers.
Our external reserve – that foreign exchange reserve and backup funds, which serves to keep us liquid in case of crises and provide confidence to investors that we can pay for our supplies – was depleted from an all-time-high of $58 billion in 2008 to $29 billion in 2015. Yet we were growing exponentially as a net importer of almost all our staple foods and textile products – from rice and maize to clothing materials.
Our import bill on rice alone was estimated at over $1 billion a year. We were bleeding; it was just a matter of time before we were comatose.
On security, Boko Haram did not only have their flags hoisted in Nigerian local governments/ districts, they could bomb Abuja and neighbouring villages at will. Bomb squads were a constant reminder of their menace in Abuja, the city of our sovereign powers.
On the war fronts, our soldiers were recorded periodically fleeing from the terrorists’ acclaimed superior fire power in very embarrassing media exposes. Seven years after, many states are paying their workers’ salaries regularly.
The Federal Government is not defaulting in any of her obligations to workers, whether in service or retired. Nigeria is not defaulting in any of her debt servicing obligations either. On the whole, Nigeria has borrowed an extra $68 billion between 2016 and 2020 but now has major roads, economic dams and bridges, several train services, upgraded airport terminals, and an ongoing trans-Saharan gas pipeline project to show for it.
These are capital investments that are already solid props for the Nigerian economy. It is more robust and able to sustain fair growth potentials and predictions as well as ward off recessions.
The country’s foreign reserve has been replenished and grown to over 40 billion dollars as at December 2021. While we still have security challenges, the table is turned against Boko Haram and ISWAP. Nigeria military commanders are the kings of the war theatres now. The APC- controlled government has so steadily equipped our military that Nigeria, in military might, has become the 35th nation in the world from its 43rd ranking in 2018. Boko Haram and ISWAP are merely fighting for survival and propaganda relevance.
They are not today in a position to bomb any corner of Nigeria at will and definitely not the environs of the nation’s capital. Banditry and herdsmen attacks have subsided since the political dimension of that particular security challenge was highlighted and deterrent measures taken.
Thus, I insist that those who engineered the change of guards from the other party to the All Progressives Congress are the Nigerian heroes of this era.
APC has delivered Nigeria from the rapacious clutches of political buccaneers, who are notorious for abandoning critical national projects and programmes the moment mobilisation fees were paid and they could soil their hands and move on to the next “drawing board”, President Buhari has earned a place in the history of the fight for national redemption. He has led an administration with the most spectacular record for completing abandoned critical national projects.
Next and standing quite close to Buhari and sharing this onerous responsibility of saving Nigeria from the other party is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man who for 15 years was the face and spirit of a resilient opposition to the PDP scourge in the South West.
Of these architects of the new polity where national interest is considered uppermost, Buhari has pulled us this far. He has had his chance to actualise part of the vision that necessitated their shared hunger for a different direction for Nigeria.
Now, Nigerians can’t wait to see and experience what his partner- visionary, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will do with his complimentary vision and passion, how would it manifest, his particular vista of the dream, into substance and actuality. What big ideas and momentous movement is Nigeria bargaining for now, with the prospect of a Tinubu presidency?
When one half of a great visionary partnership must take a bow and leave the stage, what better recourse do we have than to anoint the second half of the partnership, who is well tested and willing to take the baton and resurge the race? Nigeria is blessed: the scenario of a Tinubu presidency now is more beautiful and propitious than the promise of mere continuity.
If we act accordingly, growth and economic development is assured to spurt in both vertical and lateral dimensions. Dear progressives, if you have not reckoned with Tinubu’s passion for Nigeria, you must have heard of his experience with huge dimension tasks and his resort to creative solutions during pitfalls; you have been told tales of his fighting exploits for democracy or changing destructive systems and reclaiming victories for his followers.
So, I dare to ask you, who would you rather have in charge of Nigeria, after Buhari had cleared the wilds, removed debris, and laid the foundations for our nation’s greatness? Show me a man with a bigger head for the burden of responsibility waiting for the person on whose table the buck stops for the next eight years?
Show me a bigger heart for the compassion he must show, the one who must create huge national wealth without asking of the poor masses more crushing sacrifices. Bola Ahmed Tinubu has the gumption, what it takes, and he has earned our trust through service and loyalty to the national cause.
While he superintended in Lagos, he recognised Lagos as a microcosm of Nigeria, where he discouraged any discrimination whatsoever on the basis of any resident’s state of origin. In Lagos schools, he outlawed discriminatory school fees and levies. It was a deliberate policy for social cohesion, unity and inclusiveness.
He appointed non-Lagosians as commissioners and high ranking officials of the state government. Nigerians, we need to rise and give Tinubu an unequivocal charge: to springboard Nigeria into a growth phase – several leaps ahead, the way Lagos State – under his guide left the launch platform two decades ago, has stayed the positive course and is now the 5th biggest economy in Africa (rated as a nation).
We must not fail to give this indefatigable leader with such an audacious spirit, a creative instinct and a striking mission a clear mandate to make the biggest difference possible to our collective trajectory of growth and development as a nation. What would it take?
Our massive turnout and count of votes in the 2023 presidential election. Before that is the party primary. Progressives everywhere across Nigeria, we have our work cut out for us. We must explore our special privilege as APC stakeholders to ensure that the party’s presidential ticket goes to the man who has always delivered, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
We must keep this date with destiny. lEngr. David, Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, Lagos State House of Assembly, writes from Lagos.