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Tinubu ready to build Nigeria in difficult times, Atiku to open all borders

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National campaign for the nation’s presidency in next year’s general elections continued Tuesday with all the presidential candidates unfolding their agenda before the electorate.

While Asiwaju Bol Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said he’s ready to fix Nigeria in its difficult time, his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s counterpart, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, promised to reopen the nation’s borders if given the mandate.

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But the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi said the era of unfulfilled promises is over, just as Dumebi Kachikwu of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) lauded the Federal High Court’s decision sacking the party’s National Chairman, Ralph Nwosu.

Tinubu

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Speaking in Calabar, Cross River state, Tinubu assured Nigerians and party stakeholders from the South-south region that he was ready for the job more than any other person.

A statement by the campaign office quoted Tinubu as making the declaration in Calabar at a Townhall meeting with party stakeholders on national transformation and industrialisation at the cultural centre.

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Drawing a parallel comparison with the experience of the United States during its civil war, Tinubu charged Nigerians and party members to focus on what the country can accomplish. 

He said: “We can build in the middle of difficulty, the US was fighting the civil war and still building rail track. We should focus on the things that we can accomplish. We have a lot – there is the waterfront here, we have minerals here, we have arable land, we must conquer hunger, we cannot allow hunger conquer us.”

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At the well-attended event were his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, Governor Ben Ayade, Campaign Director-General and Plateau state Governor Simon Lalong, Deputy Director-General Adams Oshiomhole, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Senator Victor Idoma Egba, former Governor Godswill Akpabio, former Petroleum Minister Don Etiebet, Minister of State Power Jeddy Agba, and Minister of State Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo(SAN), who is also the campaign spokesman.

Others at the event were former Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, Chairman of TETFund, former Speaker of House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole and APC National Woman Leader Beta Edu among several other party chieftains.

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 ‘Thrust of my campaign’

Addressing the gathering, Tinubu said: “My campaign is built on the firm conviction that our greatest good and best deeds still lie in front of us and not in our past.

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“The industrialisation of our economy represents a most vital step towards achieving the Nigeria of our dreams. From its very beginnings, our nation’s economy was established on an incomplete foundation. It was built to rely too heavily on oil exports. This means we have always experienced a large gap in the national economic structure.

“Greater industrialisation shall fill this gap through the production of more and better goods which improve our standard of living while creating better jobs, providing workers with a living wage and establishing businesses that will drive this economy for generations to come.

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“Because of this gap in our economic structure and the resultant lack of economic activity, Nigeria has experienced unacceptably high rates of unemployment for several decades. The problems this causes for our society are not limited to simply slowing our economic progress. This gap has affected our nation in profound ways, straining the social fabric in ways that no nation wishes for. Now is the time to repair these fissures our country should never have had to experience.”

Speaking on how they can better achieve this, Tinubu said, “primary and secondary industrial hubs would be created across each geopolitical zone in the country.”

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“Our industrial plan encourages manufacturing on a massive scale across the country. Nigeria will become known as a nation that produces high quality goods worthy of export to anywhere in the world. We shall use an array of policy measures. On the fiscal side, we shall employ tax credits and holidays, youth employment incentives, import relief, export credits and well-tailored subsidies where necessary.

“Cross River State will play a leading role in our economic uplift. This state is blessed with limestone, clay, salt, tin, granite, basalt, quartzite, and kaolin deposits in commercial quantities.

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“Our policies will afford local artisans and craftsmen throughout the region the necessary tools to provide for their families and, ultimately, boost overall economic activity for the national good. I enjoyed the stimulating cultural entertainment the performers displayed. This is a town hall meeting of great minds, brains and visions. My concern is the development of Nigeria, this is a talented nation and moving this country forward is a task that must be done. Let’s put together and conquer hunger by using the God’s great space on agriculture,” he said.

I’m more than them’

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In a veiled reference to his opponents, Tinubu said: “They have no past; they have no experience, no track record, no integrity so all they do is resort to insults and abuses.

 “But they don’t bug me; they know I’m from Tinubu Square. I can wrestle but I can’t wrestle with the pig.

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“What is my concern is the development of Nigeria and that is what I will do as President.”

Reconciliation  

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A major highlight of the meeting was the open reconciliation of Senator John Owen Enoh and Barrister Ekpere Mary by the APC candidate, reuniting them with Governor Ayade and others.

“I know you may have felt aggrieved and very angry but as far as we remain on earth, disappointments and pains would always come. Please, let this matter end today and here. Withdraw the lawsuit and give peace a chance.

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“We will enter the election as one family because we are not ready to give our opponents any chance,” he stated.

He described Cross Rivers as a land of joy and love.

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“Cross River is blessed in Agriculture. Oil palm, rubber, cocoa, cashews, cassava, yam, rice, plantain, and bananas are abundant and already being processed, strengthening the agro-allied value chain in ways that create better jobs and raise the standard of living.”

He also praised Governor Ayade for already starting the industrialisation drive in the state.

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“The Ayade-led administration has done tremendous work to develop the processing capacity within the state with the construction of the Ogoja Rice Mill, Ikom Cocoa Mill, Rice Seed and seedling centre.

“The governor has also gone further to develop the infrastructure for the movement of goods by land with the proposed Super-Highway, by sea with the proposed Bakassi Deep Seaport, and by air with the construction of the Obudu Cargo Airport.”

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Ayade

Speaking at the event, Governor Ayade said the focus of the next administration should be on human beings first, adding that Gross Domestic Product as a measure of economic growth should shift to Human Happiness Index.

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“We must move from GDP to the Human Happiness Index. When God has empowered you, it is for the people,” said Ayade.

In his remarks, the Campaign DG, Governor Lalong, assured the people that Asiwaju Tinubu has the capacity to provide the leadership, saying “Asiwaju turned mammy water in Lagos Ocean to Money Water through his brains.”

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Ex-VP Atiku in Katsina

Also in Katsina, Katsina state, the PDP candidate promised to reopen all Nigeria borders if elected president.

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Atiku spoke while addressing a mammoth crowd of party faithful from across the 34 local government areas during a rally held at the Muhammad Dikko Stadium in Katsina.

He said the borders, when reopened, would give people the opportunity to carry on with their businesses and create the desired environment for youths and families to cater for their need as well as reduce hunger.

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The PDP presidential candidate also promised to address the challenges of insecurity in the state and the North-west as a whole, to enable the people farm and boost economic activities within the zone.

He also said his administration would provide the desired environment for the youth to get standard and quality education in the country.

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The ex-VP said there was need to “change the changers” to secure the future of all and the nation.

“All these development structures such as the stadium that we are today using for our campaign were all built by the PDP administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and former Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema”.

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“Others include the state University, the over 1,000 kilometers of roads across the state and even the present Government house been used by the APC administration were achieved under the PDP”, he said.

In his remarks, Atiku’s running mate Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, urged women to be wary of money politics, as some unpatriotic party saboteurs would want to come and buy their PVCs for votes, “avoid them”.

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He said rather than buy into their antics; they should work hard for the success of the PDP to enable them reap its benefits for their good and that of their children.

At the rally, PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, received over 90,000 defectors from across the three senatorial zones, including a former Secretary to Government of the state, Alhaji Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa and Governor Aminu Bello Masari’s Special Adviser, Alhaji Aminu Lawal Maye.

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Ayu charged them to support the party in its quest to take over government at both the state and federal levels.

Responding, Alhaji Inuwa, who heads the Atiku/Lado Campaign, assured they would deliver the state to PDP in next year’s poll.

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At the rally were PDP governorship candidate in the state, Senator Yakubu Lado; and Atiku’s campaign’s director-general, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

Others were former Jigawa state Governor Sule Lamido; former Kano state Governor Ibrahim Shekarau; former Kaduna state Governor  Ahmed Muhammad Makarfi; former Niger state Governor Muazu  Babangida Aliyu as well as former Speaker House of Representatives  Yakubu Dogara and the campaign spokesman, Dino Melaye amongst many others.

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From the Emir’s palace, the campaign train moved to the Yar’adua family house to pay homage to Hajiya Dada, mother of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua.

N50m donation by Atiku

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Earlier at the emir’s palace, the former vice president announced a donation of N50m to victims of insecurity in the state.

Atiku said he was in the palace to seek advice, prayers and blessings from the royal father in his quest to become president of the country.

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In his response, Emir of Katsina Dr Abdulmuminu Kabir Usman said he saw light in Atiku’s quest for the nation’s top job.

The monarch said he was happy the presidential candidate promised to tackle insecurity and economic problems, which he said were the issues that got him hospitalized recently.

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He prayed for a successful and peaceful election in 2023, saying the country belongs to all citizens irrespective of their tribal or religious inclinations.

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