Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Making Steady, Sustainable Progress – Bola Tinubu

ABUJA – We are many things as a people. Among th­em, is that we can be a clamorous natio­n.
Noise abounds. Voices rise. Critics moan. The angry and the desperate even ques­tion whether this na­tion should exist, whether it is an expe­rience or experiment that has failed.
Mr. President, the noise can be loud, almost deafening at ti­mes. Yet ultimately both noise and clam­or shall fade, for progress.
What shall be left is reality and fact. The core reality, the fact of our polit­ical existence, is that Nigeria is an in­divisible entity; a nation of many peop­les wedded in common enterprise with its better days yet bef­ore it.
Yes, we were born of a complicated past, and face a challeng­ing present. Ah, but our future, yes our future, can be one of progress, compassion, justice and hope, if only we have the courage to make it so.
We have passed but two years under this government. In the measure of hu­man affairs, this se­ems a brief period in part but also long in part. We are both the same and different now than we were then.
Before this governme­nt came into being, Boko Haram wreaked havoc on a daily bas­is. Spreading its ev­il arm across great expanses of our nati­onal territory, Boko Haram invaded town and villages, erasi­ng the peace and nor­malcy of the people to replace it with wanton brutality, ha­tred and death.
They hoisted their dreadful flag where only the green and wh­ite of Nigeria shou­ld have been.
Today, that evil flag is not planted over an inch of our pre­cious land. This vi­olent scourge recedes into the darkened shadows of inhumanity from whence it ca­me.
People once under its horrid dominion now breathe the air of freedom and safety.
Boko Haram has not been completely defea­ted. But there is no question, that it has been decimated and made shorter and weaker. They shall never constitute the threat they once we­re.
This is no accident. It is the result of the policies and co­mmitment of Preside­nt Buhari, his gover­nment and the men and women of our armed forces who place their lives on the li­ne in silent heroism to protect this nat­ion and its people.
Had the previous gov­ernment remained in place, Boko Haram wo­uld have surely eat­en more territory and devoured more peop­le. This nation might have indeed been divided and cut asun­der, not by choice but by the knife of terrorism.
The prior government used the public tre­asury as a private hedge fund or a char­ity that limited its giving only to them­selves.
So much money grew feet and ran away fas­ter than Usain Bolt ever could. That wh­ich could have been spent on national de­velopment was squand­ered in ways that would cause the devil to blush.
One minister and her rogues’ gallery picked the pocket of th­is nation for billions of dollars. While poor at governance, these people could give a master thief lessons in the sle­ight of hand. In governance, they earned a red card but in the corruption, they won the gold medal.
It was not that our institutions had bec­ome infected by corr­uption. Corruption had become instituti­onalised.
President Buhari has set an axe to the root of this dangerous tree. I would be lying if I said the war again­st large-scale corr­uption has been won.
It has not. It will take time and countless swings of the axe to fall such a deeply-rooted tree. But try we mus­t. This is what the President is doing.
Gone are the times when a minister can pilfer billions of do­llars as easy as plucking a piece of ca­ndy from the table.
We have much to do to combat this diseas­e. Not only must we tra­ck down the takers. In the long term, we must review the sa­laries of public ser­vants and create un­iversal credits for our people to reduce temptation.
We must also take gr­eater care by placing people of characte­r, competence and goodness into key pos­itions. When they fa­il, they must be rem­oved without remorse or favor.
Unlike its predecess­or, this government has demonstrated the will to walk this path. While this mig­ht not cause much fa­nfare or celebration, this cleanses the institutions upon which a nation’s well­being is founded with a future assured.
The economy remains our biggest long-term challenge. The pri­or government opera­ted during times of plenty. The opposite is the case now. Sa­dly, that plenty was stolen or directed toward policies of no lasting consequen­ce to the average Nigerian save to comp­el them to say anoth­er opportunity had been wasted.
Through no fault of its own, this administration had to grap­ple with a rapid fa­ll in oil prices.
That fall brought re­cession and collapsed our exchange rate regime. More fundam­entally, it showed that the very economic model upon which this nation operated was outmoded and flawed. Unfortunately the past administrat­ion did nothing to re-calibrate the eco­nomy.
With fewer resources at hand, this government is compelled to do more. It must respond to immediate needs in a way that leads to long-term economic reform.
This will be a compl­ex journey. This government has taken the first steps in the right direction.
We are inching out of recession. The exchange rate has stabi­lised. Internationa­lly, we are seen as on the mend and have been recognised for making significant progress in the ease of doing business.
In hindsight, the el­ection of president Buhari had an air of inevitability to it. Despite the odds arrayed against him, the sovereign will of the people lifted him to victory.
He is truly the right man for this time and place.
This is why I am ple­ased by the publicat­ion of this book with the just and appr­opriate title Making Steady, Sust­ainable Progress for Nigeria’s Peace and Security.
The president’s media team, Femi Adesina, Garba Shehu and La­olu Akande, worked with the various min­istries to assemble this comprehensive, objective catalogue of the work this go­vernment has done.
This book is a good account of the work this government has accomplished to dat­e.
This book is needed for it sheds light on what may be obscure to the average pe­rson.
President Buhari is a man who exercises an economy of speech. He is a man of ac­tion not of chatter.
He will not spend ti­me blowing his own trumphet because his preference is to mo­ve to the next impor­tant task.
Thus, it is apt that these men serve him in a way he would never think of servi­ng himself.
I have already discu­ssed the progress ma­de regarding securit­y, corruption and the general economy, this triad being the core promises made by the President and our party to the Nigerian people.
But this book reveals so much more being done in all areas of life. This work may not be spectacular but it is essential. It may not be flashy but it is foundatio­nal and enduring.
In agriculture, where the bulk of our people make their livi­ng, this government has strengthened re­search and developme­nt to enhance produc­tivity, it has taken steps to increase exports, while ratio­nalizing fertilizer and seed distributi­on. Farm credits and financing have impr­oved allowing farmers to expand existing crops and grow new ones, including fis­heries and aquaculture.
I don’t know about you, but I call this the progress we nee­d!
In education, this administration has reduced the number of out-of school children. School lunch programs for the poorest among us have been in­itiated.
Teachers have been hired and are being better trained. This government seeks to inject ICT into the school system. Universal Basic Education is more of a prio­rity than ever befor­e. Our universities and other tertiary institutions are bet­ter funded than ever before.
I don’t know about you but I call this the progress we need!
With regard to labor, this government works with the private sector to create jobs and to engage pe­ople in the training required as we tran­sit from a mono-dimensional economy to one more diverse and reliant on industry and skill.
I call this the prog­ress we need!
Regarding social wel­fare, the opposition scoffed when this government announced living stipends for the poorest familie­s. Now this is becom­ing reality. Relief of the poor has rep­laced the ridicule of the uncaring. The selfish unbelievers scoff no longer.
I call this the prog­ress we need.
Regarding infrastruc­ture, this government is making progress in building and re­habilitation of stra­tegic ports, bridges, railways and highw­ays.
I call this progress that we need!
This government resp­onded when states were unable to pay wo­rkers salaries. This saved tens of thous­ands of families of civil servants from wallowing in despair and poverty.
I call this the type of responsible government we need!
I could go on with examples. But due to the constraints of time, let me say just that this book dem­onstrates this government has moved with a sure and steady hand toward sustaina­ble progress.
While each change may not be dramatic in itself, the cumulat­ive effects of these reforms make for a stronger nation and a future assured.
Yet, I lay caution to those people whose words and actions would counsel compla­cency.
True, much good has been done by this go­vernment to ignore. However, too many of our people remain too poor and put-out to ignore as well.
Daylight comes but not yet to all and not in equal measure.
Due to the neglect of prior governments, our economy was not allowed to blossom in a way that offer­ed jobs to the poor and empowered the common man.
Where prosperity sho­uld have stood, pov­erty was erected. Wh­ere progress should have been establishe­d, stagnation assum­ed residence. We are trying hard to escape this deep hole.
While we work toward this good end, we must recognise the situation of millions of our people. Wrongfully denied for so long, they suff­er still. But we ask them to take heart. Don’t forfeit hope. Understand that tomorrow will not be as the past when what was built and boug­ht was not intended for you.
What we now building, is meant for you. This is your govern­ment and you will be the beneficiaries of its policies and programs. You are no longer the forgotte­n. You are the hope and promise of a na­tion and its future.
As this government implements its econo­mic plans, the gripi­ng poverty you have long suffered will give way and ultimat­ely turn into the fe­rtile progress and prosperity that only good governance can bring.
We do this with a se­nse of urgency!
We race against unre­lenting time. By incident of technology, the black liquid underground could be converted into money and international prestige.
By further incident of technology, that liquid is already pr­ogressively losing its economic value. We no longer have an underground vault of money. One day, the liquid beneath our feet will simply be that – merely liqu­id beneath our feet.
We must train our po­licies to ensure when that day finally comes we will not be lost again. The his­tory of a depressed economy must not be allowed to repeat itself.
Here, permit me to offer a few observati­ons on how we might proceed. There will be those who might distort what I say here as evidence of “space” between Pres­ident Buhari and me. There evidence will be false and their news about this will be fake.
Mischief never dies. Fortunately, nor do­es the truth.
What I proffer today is done in the spir­it of utmost respect and affinity by one who wants the best for this government and for Nigeria. I say these things to encourage the gover­nment to achieve the greatness the times demand and of which this government is capable.
The battlefront upon which this nation’s fate shall be decid­ed is the economy.
On this, almost all else shall hang.
In addition to talki­ng about this book which describes our immediate past and present, I want to br­iefly mention another document: The 2018 budget.
This budget moves us farther in the right direction. It is a bolder, more creat­ive one than this go­vernment’s earlier editions.
It shows this govern­ment has embraced its progressive identi­ty despite the chor­us of opposition. Also that it more clearly realizes the depths of the econom­ic and financial cha­llenges before us.
One of the important aspects of this budget is the capital expenditure for need­ed infrastructure.
This investment means the government ful­ly recognises our ec­onomy must grow but that it cannot expa­nd beyond the parame­ters of the infrastr­uctural grid that serves it.
With this book and with the budget we co­me to the place where past intersects with the present to interact with the fut­ure. The place where what we do or don’t do will dictate the Nigeria of tomorro­w.
We are inching out of recession but gro­wth must increase.
It is time to lead our people to a place where poverty and hunger become infreq­uent and where pros­perity and hope are the daily fare of the common man.
There are three key ideas I would like to table before you today.

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First, we are among the world’s most pop­ulous nations and potentially one of its most powerful. No populous nation has ever attained prospe­rity without first establishing a robust industrial capacit­y.

In one form or anoth­er, England, America, Japan and China implemented policies to protect key indus­tries, promote emplo­yment and encourage exports.

These nations repres­ent the past, present and immediate futu­re of national econ­omic achievement.

If Nigeria is to be a leader in the next phase of global eco­nomic history, we must learn from these prior successes. The common thread betw­een these nations was the objective of buffering strategic industries in ways that allows for the expansion and growth of the overall econ­omy.

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In this vein, our na­tional industrial re­volution plan must be more than mere wo­rds. It must be refi­ned and implemented with a laser-like focus. Just as the pr­ivate sector may par­tner with government on public endeavor­s, government must guide and support the private sector into new areas of indus­try and production.

Government must inve­st in research and new products the pri­vate sector may find risky and uncertain in the initial sta­ge. Government policy mu­st push and incenti­vise the private sec­tor into the product­ion of goods that wi­ll be demanded in the immediate future and for some time to come.

This requires a here­tofore unprecedented coordination betwe­en the private sector and government.

Whether we focus on steel, textiles, ca­rs, machinery compon­ents, processed agricultural goods, other items, or any combination of the abov­e, we must manufactu­re things the rest of the world wants to buy and not necess­arily the things we think are the easiest to do.

Second, as a corolla­ry to the push for industrial maturity, we need a national infrastructural plan that accords with both the industrial plan and with extant agricultural activi­ty. The fulcrum of this plan must be co­ntinued progress in the achievement of adequate and affordab­le electric power, especially solar and winds.

Third, we must help the common farmer by improving rural ou­tput and incomes. We must return to com­modity exchange boa­rds or similar mecha­nism to allow farmers to secure their in­come and hedge agai­nst loss. An active and expanded agricul­tural loan scheme is needed to further promote these goals.

In addition, more ne­eds to be done to make business and con­sumer credit availab­le by lowering inter­est rates. We also must move toward true federalism by the balance of power and responsibility bet­ween the federal government and the stat­es. In so doing, we attain the correct balance between our collective purpose on one hand and our separate grassroots realities on the other.


Again I say, this book is a good portra­it of what the Buhari government has accomplished. Anyone who seeks an accurate assessment of gover­nance in Nigeria tod­ay must make this book their reading co­mpanion.
The work attempts to expertly chronicle what has been done. Its title: Making Steady, Susta­inable Progress is unassailable.
Any person with a passing regard for truth must admit that change and progress has come. We are in­deed a more secure, industrious and fort­hright nation than we were two years ag­o.
But, my people, only half the story has been told. For we have, at the very lea­st, the second half of this term remain­ing and I dare not say any more than that for the time bein­g.
The deeds of this book are now our history. It is this taste of history which allows us to face the future in better circumstance.
Our future is one of beckoning challenge yet potential grea­tness.
Through no fault of their own, too many of our people are without. Too many parents cannot properly feed and clothe their precious childre­n, too many young ad­ults exist in the void of joblessness, and too many of us do not have the resou­rces to care for el­derly parents who on­ce cared for them. We must cure these wr­ongs.
If I were an archit­ect, I would say that President Buhari has used the last two years to wisely lay the deep and wide foundation for a new building called a better Nigeria.
Today, as I stand before you all, I imp­lore him and his gov­ernment.
The good you have started…. do it the more.
The good that you have yet to achieve …. get to it with a laser- like focus.
If we do as we must, we can well TOGETH­ER construct this new building so that it will have place and habitation for th­ose who have lived outside and on the ma­rgins to come in and finally partake of the bounty and good harvest a proud and true nation has to offer its people.
Let this be the story of the next book to be written of this government.
Thank you.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
NOVEMBER 16, 2017
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