Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, on Monday, told the organised labour that none of the major presidential candidates could be trusted with power and leadership. Tinubu stated this at a town hall with the organised labour.
The APC candidate said he was the most qualified of the presidential candidates to lead Nigeria, stressing that he is the only one seriously involved in the fight for good governance.
Although Tinubu did not directly mention the names of the other presidential hopefuls, the description he gave was a perfect march for the candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi.
Tinubu, in a statement by his Media Office, signed by Tunde Rahman, urged the labour unions to support him in the 2023 presidential election, saying he has the track record of good governance. He identified the problems of unemployment, lack of credit system to help workers own houses, poverty, challenges in the education sector, and weak industrial base as some of the things he was coming to address as President of Nigeria.
Tinubu stated, “Today, the questions you all must ask yourselves are these: who can be trusted to accomplish all of this? The man who has done it before, or the man whose most lasting achievement as Vice President is the corrupt sale of national assets to his friends and cronies?
“Who has the better plan? The man whose blueprint guided the emergence of Lagos State as fifth largest economy in Africa or the man whose greatest pride is the amount of money he managed to bury in sand while his state’s infrastructure decayed and its workers suffered endless hardship?
“The choice is yours. But permit me to now talk a little about myself and my vision.
“I have always been and will continue to be a progressive democrat. In my worldview, government has a cardinal responsibility to work, not only with business, but also with labour to ensure that all constituent parts of our society are afforded their fair share of rewards without taking on undue hardship.”
The former governor of Lagos State stressed that just like the labour leaders, he had been at the forefront of the fight for good governance all his life, a venture for which he had been detained and eventually forced into exile.
According to him, “As organised labour, you have been at the forefront of the workers’ rights movement in Nigeria, championing economic fairness and the welfare of the average person, the weak and the forgotten.
“You have also been involved in the struggle for democracy and political rights. Your collective efforts breathed life into the democratic rights and economic ideals enshrined in our constitution. I can speak fondly of your impact on our nation, because of my personal history on the frontlines of the social justice movement.
“I may be running for president now, but I was not always in this position. Long before I started running for the presidency, I was running away from military dictators angered by my important role in protests against them and their efforts to vanquish our democratic aspirations.”
Tinubu said the defining moment of his public life came during Nigeria’s struggle for democracy and his membership in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO).
He added, “I have dedicated my entire being to that cause. I was detained, then was forced into exile, because of my refusal to accept anything less than a government based on the proposition that the will of the people is sovereign and should reign over armed might and imposition.
“I believe that those assembled here today share the same ideals of progressive and democratic good governance. I have spent my political life advocating for the rights and interests of ordinary Nigerians as you also do. We have long been fellow travellers on the same road. I hope that we shall continue as friends and brothers.”
On his plans, if elected, Tinubu said his administration would make the fiscal and monetary policies work for the workers and Nigerians so they could have a good life. He added that he would ensure the country was massively industrialised to give more people better paying jobs, while also opening doors to more emerging sectors that the younger ones could harness.
Tinubu promised to foster a closer partnership with the organised labour, where dialogue on major policy issues and cooperation would become the order of the day.
Responding to a question on corruption, Tinubu said his administration would implement a zero-tolerance corruption policy by strengthening the anti-corruption agencies.
On crude oil theft, he said if elected he would ensure maximum deployment of technology to monitor, protect pipelines, and block theft. He condemned those receiving stolen crude, stating that if there is no receiver, there wouldn’t be supplier.
Deputy Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, noted that Tinubu’s Action Plan would bring back dead industries, like Kaduna Textile that once employed over 4,000 workers.
Oshiomhole told the labour movement and civil society that the basis for their support for a presidential candidate should be who among the candidates had social and economic policies that would make life better for the working families in Nigeria.
President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, presented the workers’ charter of demands to Tinubu, which included a total war on corruption.
Ayuba said corruption had almost destroyed the social and economic fabrics of Nigeria across the private and public sectors, stressing that it is the reason the country is not making the desired progress.
He said, “In Nigeria, our problem is people problem and we must have a government that will prioritise the fight against corruption. This is a key demand of labour. We also need government that will make social and economic justice a priority.”
Earlier, former Deputy President of NLC and Director of Labour Directorate of the APC PCC, Comrade Isa Aremu, set the tone for the engagement, when he told the labour leaders and workers that the choice before them and Nigerians in next election was who among the presidential candidates was truly committed, tested and trusted to protect workers and the poor, and who was ready to industrialise the country to bring back decent jobs and good pay.
At the town hall were vice presidential candidate of APC, Senator Kashim Shettima; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq (Kwara); Secretary of the PCC, Hon. James Faleke; and Festus Osifo, among others.
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja