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First thing to tackle is security, says Tanimu Turaki

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Turaki

Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN), the immediate past minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, says provision of security has become germane to Nigeria’s unity, stressing that the rule of law is central to building confidence among citizens. The presidential aspirant spoke to LEO SOBECHI, (Assistant Politics Editor)

What are the essential things you want to bring to leadership of Nigerian as president?
Anybody desirous of leading Nigeria at this very critical time in our history should be concerned about certain critical issues that have become germane. Never in our history have we been so vulnerable. Nigerians are not safe anywhere. We are not in our homes, or the streets or places of work. The obligation of any government, whether it is democracy or autocracy, is to be able to protect the lives and properties of the citizens. That should be the foundation.

Now, we have suddenly found ourselves in a situation, where more than any other time, every Nigerian feels highly insecure. We are either not so sure of our protection, not so sure of the protection of our properties, not so sure of the our investment if you’re in business.

So the first thing any serious minded leader would want to tackle is the issue of security. If by the grace of God I become the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the first thing I will tackle is the issue of security. You need to give the people that very critical comfort and assurance that indeed at anytime the government will rise and be there for them, protecting their lives, property, investment and every other thing that may be dear to them.

Next to this is the issue of unity. I am linking unity to security, because unless you have unity and security you will end up not having any country. Since the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in 1914 by Lord (Frederick) Lugard we have never been so divided among many divides, ethnic, religious, regional and others.

At the time we came together as one indivisible and indissoluble country under God, we realised that we have a lot of distinctiveness, that this is a country of unbelievable contradictions. But, despite out complexities, we agreed then to work together, to live together, to be there for each other and make deliberate efforts to understand our distinctiveness, differences, uniqueness for us to understand each other and then live in harmony.

That’s what we have been doing. But we suddenly have found ourselves, because of the lack of proper and honest leadership by the APC (All Progressives Congress), where people are beginning to wonder and indeed doubt very deeply whether the Nigerian project can survive.

Yet we remember the invaluable contributions that our past leaders made, not only to bring us together, but also to help us live together, upholding our unity and hope to the point that even a civil war was fought to keep Nigerians together. Now, we have a government that doesn’t care whether this country goes down or not.

The foundation of my government will be security and unity. We used to say and sing in our national anthem, that in spite of the fact that tongues and tribe and religion may defer, but in brotherhood we stand. And we lived together and have been able to achieve a lot, because these pluralities and complexities have turned out to be sources of our strength as opposed to sources of our weakness.

The next thing is to look at the rule of law. Unless you have the rule of law, then you will not be able to make people have that confidence in themselves and in their country, that at all times they will be treated fairly, equally and honestly by their leaders.

And, because this government does not believe in the rule of law, that is why in both actions and policies, even in body language, it has set out to deliberately discriminate openly against Nigerians, sometimes on the basis of ethnicity and beliefs.

In patronage, those who voted for the APC federal government were seen as people dear to the government; the 95 per centers as opposed to those that did not vote for it, the five per centers. Yet, not only in this country, not only in this constitution, there is the basic inalienable right, human right, that every individual has, to vote people of their choices. And that right is such that you can take it and exercise as an individual and you can refuse to take it, but that still didn’t change the fact that you have that right.

So, for any government or leader to say he was going to discriminate among his people because some voted for and some didn’t vote for him is the highest form of irresponsibility and injustice and unfairness that can happen in this country. That is where we find ourselves.

Next, the issue of economy is going to be taken very seriously, because we were coming from where nobody seems to have confidence in our economy. We were coming from a situation, where people think that nothing good could come out from this country. We were coming from a perspective, where Nigerian professionals and who indeed are some of the best you can find anywhere in the world, were leaving to other countries in the world where they are excelling in their respective professions.

But the economy shows volatility…
Then we came to a point, where through deliberate policies, the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party)-led successive federal government from 1999 to 2015, were able to build that high sense of patriotism and nationalism for Nigerians to begin to believe in themselves and their country. And gradually, we saw when Nigerians were rising to the highest level. We have seen how for the first time how PDP successive regimes were able, through deliberate and well orchaestrated policies, engineered growth, rising to the point where Nigeria became one of the strongest economies in Africa.

We have seen the point where the system was being tailored to work and was working. Nigerians, who initially never had the faintest imagination that Nigeria will work, were now believing in Nigeria and were coming back home, not only to contribute their quotas in the growth and development of their country, but indeed they were bringing their hard-earned money to invest in the country. And it was the period when we witnessed a direct flow of foreign investors in Nigeria.

We have seen how Nigerians both at home and overseas believe in their country, were beginning to believe in the system and structure of this country. Foreigners also believing in our country were coming to invest in the economy.

We have seen how the PDP were able to begin a deliberate policy of rebuilding the middle class that had been destroyed through successive military regimes.  We have seen how PDP government from former President Olusegun) Obasanjo through (late President Umaru Musa) Yaradua and (former President Goodluck) Jonathan, were able to liberalisze the landscape in such a way that Nigerian youth were given opportunities to start their own businesses. And they were doing well, employing themselves and employing other youth.

We saw how the economy was stabilized and rate of interest was coming down gradually, making it possible for people to borrow from financial institutions, break even and be able to refund the loans without much difficulty. Suddenly, we woke up to discover that everything was going down.

Nigerians and foreign investors were divesting their funds out of the country, Nigeria economy came into so serious shock and for the first time, dollar rose to over N500 and the rate of exchange became very unreasonable, hence making it very difficult for people to do business or break even.

I believe that outside security and unity the economy must be rejigged, we must bring in the private sector that PDP had used before to expand our economy and then look at other areas that will provide employment.

For the first time in Nigeria today, we don’t have an economic team and this government doesn’t have a chief economic adviser. So, it has now become so difficult for government to sit down and come up with serious-minded programmes that will be able to jump-start economic growth and development. If all that APC had done were to leave our economy where it was, stagnate it, we still would have been where we were by 2015, but what is happening today?  If you’re one of those who believe in Nigeria and so you did not divested your investment from Nigeria by May 28, 2015, chances are if you had a capital investment of N1million that would have been reduced to N200, 000 or even less.

And in expanding the frontiers, we have none other areas that the PDP was able to create amazing opportunities through deliberate government policies and then support by government for grants to youth and indeed other Nigerian professionals to grow wealth, which had positive impact on the economy through sports and entertainment.

We will continue to give the assistance, guidance and protection that government was giving to entertainment industry, especially Nollywood. I was chairman of Nigeria Copyright Commission and knew what colossal damage was being done to the entertainment industry due to the activities of pirates.

Outside the economy, I will then look at the issue of agriculture. The purpose of agriculture will not just be for subsistence living, but agriculture will become real business, big time and this will mean that there will be a lot of value-chain added. We will bring knowledge into our agriculture. We used to have in those agriculture research and extension services, to render expert advise to farmers not only in terms seeds and seedlings, but also when to farm, when not to farm, what fertilizer and insecticide to use and not to use. We are going to bring in precision agriculture. What amount of water, fertilizer to use among other guiding principles.

Then we come to the issue of infrastructure. We have worked hard to create critical infrastructure in this country, as a former minister of inter-governmental affairs, I was saddled with the responsibility of implementing the constituency projects of all members of the National Assembly, which had an annual envelope of N100billion.

That gave me the opportunity to see how government could add value to the people living in the rural areas. The rural dwellers were positively impacted by the activities of the government through processes and implementation of projects that had direct bearing on their lives.

We have seen where government was able to look at project that were low-hanging fruits and were able to implement them. These were projects that were able to bring smiles to the faces of many Nigerians.

Building and strengthening critical infrastructure is something that I have been used to, something that took me to virtually every federal constituency in addition to every senatorial district in this country.

And so, when you put it together, you discover that the impact is so colossal. And because these are small compound project, they quickly get started and concluded with direct impact on the lives of people in the constituency. So, I will continue with that, because that position put me in a vintage position to know the little things Nigerians need. There are also other bigger infrastructure development challenges we have to break, like road, health and educational infrastructure.

The current administration says it is tackling infrastructure like never before…
I can recall that when former President Jonathan said that there must be fairness in every aspect of human endeavour in the country, he created 14 state universities, such that every state have at least one federal university. He went ahead to say for every state there must be a teaching hospital or federal medical centre to make the lives of the people more qualitative.

I can recall how old Nigerian airports were rebranded and new ones built in places where there was none, so we will continue on that.

We will look critically at the issue of rail transportation, we will expand it and then bring in experts from outside Nigeria, because we have the vision, we want them to partner with us and work along that vision. There is no reason a Nigerian traveling from Lagos to Maiduguri should not travel on the modern speed trains to get there in an hour to save time.

On the issue of educational infrastructure, we would also look at the educational curriculum. An educational curriculum that does not make provision for Nigerians to have education to earn a decent living and then impact positively will certainly not be the focus of my government.

We want every Nigerian child to get to school and finish six years in the primary, six years in junior and senior secondary school before getting into the university to do four years, to be able to learn beyond learning education to also understand and appreciate the value of education. In addition, you must have been placed in a position where you can learn one vocation or trade that when you come out, you don’t need to depend on government for anything. You would have been skilled to the extent that you will be able to start up a business. The role of government at the time would be to assist you to access grants at very minimal interest rate or zero interest rates. By the time you look back, you discover that the dependency on government after education by Nigerian youth after education will no longer be there.

Then we would have been able to succeed in not only creating education, but also enhancing employability of Nigerian youth, because the problem we have now, which the this APC government has failed to address is the issue of employability. You have youth who are unemployed and most of them are unemployable, because there is a huge skill gap and nothing is being done to address that skill gap.

We will address this issue and make sure that indeed Nigeria youth get education that will not only add value, but also make them employable. Then, we will try to bring back the reading culture; yes we have gradually seen how hard copy books are being pushed away by e-books and how our libraries are globally pushed away by e-library. But you need to create that very critical connect for Nigerians as they begin to school to appreciate reading culture and begin to take advantage of e-library that we will build. It is important for Nigerians to begin to read, when we read it, broadens our horizon and perception.  It’s what will make us competitive enough in the global market. Everything today is about knowledge and information. So, the level of what impact you can make in any given situation is derived from the amount of knowledge you have been exposed to.


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