President Muhammadu Buhari has attributed the triumph of the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 general election to the vision of a National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Buhari said this in a recorded tribute which was presented at the 8th Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Abuja on Tuesday.
At the event, which was held to commemorate the 64th birthday of Tinubu, the President said the former governor of Lagos State was the brains behind the merger of Nigeria’s main opposition parties in 2013.
He said without Tinubu’s vision and intelligence, the party would not have been formed and the APC would not be in power today.
Buhari stated, “If Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not participate, there wouldn’t have been a merger and there wouldn’t have been an APC government at the centre. That is absolutely clear.
“He should thank God that he has gone through so much and has remained relevant, that he is healthy and young.”
Earlier in his address, the President had contended that Tinubu remained one of the most important figures in Nigeria at the moment.
Buhari added, “There are very few patriots, alive or departed, who can match the commitment, resilience and creativity that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has, over the past few decades, demonstrated in organising Nigeria’s public life for good.
“As he adds another year today, my best wishes and prayers go out to a man who deserves a lot of commendation for what he continues to stand for.”
The President’s address, which centred on the theme: ‘Agriculture: Action, Work, Revolution’, highlighted the several opportunities which abound in the agricultural sector.
According to him, it is unfortunate that Nigeria is importing food when it should be exporting.
Buhari said, “Nearly all our crop-based farming activities are dependent on rain-fed agriculture, and this makes our agricultural productivity entirely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
“In the past few years, on the average, we have spent in excess of $11bn annually importing wheat, rice, sugar and fish. We need not, and indeed we cannot afford to continue on this trajectory.
“Agriculture is the key to our economic growth and social investment policies. Our administration’s key strategy is to ensure that Nigeria becomes self- sufficient in the foods that we consume the most.
“Maize, rice, corn, millets, fruits, poultry products and their derivatives can all be produced at home if we put our hearts into it. Our policy is simple: We will produce what we eat! It is not only logical, it is necessary.”
In his tribute, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, recalled the role Tinubu played in bringing aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party’s governors into the APC after the crisis in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
Amaechi said Tinubu convinced the members of the APC to allow the New PDP members to join its fold at the time.
He said, “He was able to gather the leadership of the political class together. He was key; more than gathering the public because once you gather the leadership of the political class and ensure that there is unity of purpose, they could share to the public jointly this change mantra.
“We in the New PDP were in constant contact with him and we virtually negotiated through him. By the time the President (Buhari) and others got involved, we had gone far with Asiwaju. He played a key role.”
Also speaking in the tribute video, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, described Tinubu as a visionary, noting that the ex-governor of Lagos was dependable and loyal.
Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said, “It was people like Tinubu that insisted that this country could not afford another four years of that kind of thing (past administration) and basically laid down their lives, laid down their resources and gave their all to ensure that change happened.
“He is extremely loyal and that is how you know your friends. It doesn’t matter where you are or what happens to you, you can always be sure that Asiwaju will be there.”
Tinubu, while speaking at the event, recalled that the 2015 presidential election coincided with his birthday.
He said Buhari’s victory at the polls was his biggest birthday gift yet.
The ex-governor described the PDP-led Federal Government from 1999 to 2015 as a deceptive one.
The APC leader recalled that the PDP government claimed that it had established a Nigerian Commodity Exchange to provide a practical solution to a number of challenges that have adversely affected the growth and development of the Nigerian agricultural sector, contending that the initiative was a sham.
He thanked guest speaker and Ethiopian agric expert, Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, for exposing the dubiousness of the PDP-led Federal Government.
Tinubu said, “We have had a series of promises in the last 50 years and particularly in the last 16 years. I remember the article I wrote after the presentation of the book, Financialism: Fetching the water from a dry well’. It was about this commodity exchange.
“The deceptive government at that time announced immediately that same week that commodity exchange had been established. It took an Ethiopian to discover its lies, but thank God, we are taking it more seriously now.
“I salute the President and the entire cabinet that Nigeria is being redirected. There is no option for us but to revalidate our faith in our country and take the hard decision now. Our renaissance must come from within. We have the land, the mind, the capacity and the ability.”
Earlier, several of the contributors at the event decried the over $11bn that Nigeria had spent yearly on the importation of wheat, rice, sugar and fish products.
They noted that the whole of Africa accounted for a mere 5.6 per cent of the global meat production while Asia accounted for 42.3 per cent; Europe, 18.7 per cent; Asia, 42.3 per cent; America, 31.4 per cent; while others accounted for two per cent.
It was generally agreed that the narrative must change for the better.
Some of the dignitaries, who attended the event, included The Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II; and the Ooni of Ife,Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi.
Others were the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; the governors of Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Niger, Kebbi and Imo states; several senators and members of the House of Representatives.
Senate President Bukola Saraki; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), were, however, not at the ceremony.