Two leading presidential candidates, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday took their campaigns for the 2023 presidency to London, United Kingdom and Lagos State respectively, restating their campaign promises.
While Tinubu was at the Chatham House in London, Atiku was in Lagos, where he wooed voters in the state ahead of the February 25 presidential elections.
Tinubu’s session at the London think tank was moderated by the Managing Director, Ethics, Risk and Resilience of Chatham House and Director of Africa Programme, Dr. Alex Vines, OBE.
Tinubu on energy crisis, insecurity
In his address, Tinubu said that for Nigeria to fix its perennial riddle of energy supply, it must do away with the centralised approach where the federal government is the regulator and operator, as well as the price fixer.
Most parts of Nigeria have witnessed fuel scarcity in recent times, with the product selling for between N250-N450 per litre in major commercial cities in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja among others.
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In the address titled, “Nigeria’s 2023 elections: Security, economic and foreign policy imperatives,” Tinubu opined that Nigeria cannot fulfil its ambition without solving the problem of how to provide energy to homes and businesses across the country.
While acknowledging that power distribution and generation has been privatised to a certain degree, he said Nigeria needs to improve the enabling environment and further reform the legal and regulatory framework to attract more private investments in the sector as experienced in the telecom industry.
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.
The APC presidential candidate promised to tackle the security challenges in the country, so that Nigeria can also effectively provide security support for its neighbouring nations.
The former Lagos State governor emphasised Nigeria’s role in Africa as a big brother, which 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 vowed that as president, Nigeria will epitomise the 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.
Tinubu, who said that elections are more credible under the APC-led government, added that recent statutory enactments allowing the use of technology tools for the accreditation of voters and transmission of results will deliver the freest and fairest election in our nation’s history.
While condemning the emerging trend of attacks against the personnel and infrastructure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in parts of the country, Tinubu said political conversations on social media have become more laced with violent rhetoric and threats of violent retaliation against those perceived to be opposing partisans.
Records of my background, age, education consistent
Answering questions on the controversies about his background, age and education qualification, Tinubu maintained that his record is consistent. He said the opposition can request for a DNA test if they require one.
“My record is consistent in the school — in the university question, they (opposition) confessed that they wasted their money and time. The record is there. The transcript is there showing March 1952.
“I’m not claiming another father. I am Tinubu and Tinubu proper. If they want a DNA, they could as well require one. One of them has been accused of not being a Nigerian citizen; I didn’t touch that area,” he said. He said that he has received the replacement of his original certificate from Chicago State University to clear any doubt about his education at the school.
The candidate delegated Governors Nasir el-Rufai and Ben Ayade; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; former Lagos Information Commissioner, Dele Alake and APC National Woman Leader, Dr Beta Edu to respond to some of the questions asked after his speech.
Tinubu, who spoke in London less than 24 hours after he declined to attend a Presidential Town Hall Meeting in Lagos, hinted at why he is yet to attend a one-on-one interview in Nigeria.
“I see myself as a marketable individual and they want to use me to make money”, he said. While adding to the response of Alake on oil theft in Nigeria, Tinubu said the receivers of such products must be classified as taking ‘blood money’.
Tinubu, who boasted of his record as a former governor of Lagos State, said that his commitment to ensuring the continuity of the APC-led government does not exclude him from implementing his own economic philosophy and developmental programmes.
‘We’re still building confidence in our electoral process’
While noting that diaspora voting should be promoted, Tinubu opined that INEC needs to assure Nigerians that the technology being used for accreditation and election results is reliable and dependable before introducing mail-in ballots.
The presidential candidate who was responding to a question on diaspora voting added that Nigeria is still building confidence in the electoral process.
“If you make a contribution to the economy like the remittance you have been making, your right to vote should not be abrogated but promoted. However, we are still building confidence in our democracy and voting system. INEC is yet to assure us during this election that electronic transmission, the technology being used for accreditation and total votes count is reliable, dependable and assuring in our democratic process before we introduced a complicated element of the mail-in ballot and stuff like that,” he said.
From Abiodun Alade, Yvonne Ugwuezuoha & Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos)
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