Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo on Thursday went down memory lane to relate the roles played by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in reclaiming states lost by the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after the 2007 general elections.
Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari as Chairman of the 11th Bola Tinubu Colloquium, told the gathering the All Progressives Congress (APC) National leader hired 63 finger print experts mainly from the UK police to help prove cases of over voting in the 2007 elections.
He said with the help of the finger print experts who worked hard for six months, it was discovered while it takes an average voter about five minutes to conclude the voting process, it took PDP agents less than five seconds to thump-print ballots that were counted in its favour in 2007.
He said it was the political dexterity of the former Lagos state governor that ensured the ACN reclaimed Edo, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo states, adding the last to be won through that process was Osun state.
The Vice President commended the roles played by the APC leader in the success of the party in the just -concluded elections, adding the choice of the phrase next level as campaign slogan was simply to tell Nigerians that the country was moving to the next phase of development.
He said: “We celebrate a man who has spent the last thirty years of his life in creative and catalytic public service. He is not a lawyer as many of us know but there are few Nigerians who have provoked so many legal controversies and constitutional challenges resulting in several landmark judicial pronouncements especially in the area of federalism and what today is loosely described as restructuring.
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“Many of us know that he is not an engineer but a lot of his vision is what is responsible for what we see today in Lagos, the BRT, the Lekki industrial zone, even the Eko Atlantic project and of course the reform in the tax system of Lagos State.
“Today, Lagos as we know, earns more revenue, more IGR, than 31 states of Nigeria put together. That by itself began in 2001.”
Speaking on the next level, the Vice President said: “As you know, the expression Next Level, itself, is our political campaign slogan in this last election. And what we were saying was simply that there was a next phase to what our country has seen.
“There are many who will say that there many things that were promised in 2015 which have not yet been realised.
“I think the best way of putting is to say that our country, for the first time, is witnessing the type of leadership that is bound to lead us to where it is that we are proposed ourselves as a government.
“In my view, the honest leadership, leadership with integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari, is a very important component of getting anywhere at all in all of our development plans.
“I said before at the last colloquium that Nigeria’s main problem is not the lack of ideas, it is not the lack of projects and programmes.
“It was most of the time, especially the leadership in the past, and corruption in particular as the reason why we were finding it difficult to make progress.
“I explained that that’s why we earned $383billion in four years, the highest ever in the history of our country, and yet Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was not done.
“Lagos-Kano Railway and all that is being done today, not done. We cannot point to a single major infrastructure project that was completed in the 10-year period, despite the high earnings, including power.
“So, a government coming after so many years of waste must be a government, first that emphasizes fiscal prudence, a government that emphasizes integrity in public finance so that it would manage the little resources to achieve the maximum that can be achieved.
“And that is what President Muhammadu Buhari set out to do. As I keep saying, the president has never claimed to be an orator. He just gets things done.
“It was under President Muhammadu Buhari that three of the four refineries that we have today were built, when he was Minister of Petroleum.
“3500km of pipelines were built by him as Minister of Petroleum in a three-year period.
“So, there is a track record not of talking but of just getting things done. And this is what we have seen in the past four years.
“That is why we were able to set aside money for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. And that is going on at present.
“That is why we opened up the first phase of the Lagos-Kano Railway that was commissioned a couple of weeks ago, the Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan phase of that project.
“The Itakpe-Warri Railway, now completed after 35 years of being on the books. The Light Rail project here in Abuja started in 2005, budget after budget, never completed was completed also at the end of 2017.
“We now have that light rail from the airport to Idu, same as several other infrastructural projects. Mambila Hydro has been on the cards for 40 years. We have just put together resources to begin that project and we will complete that project.
“For us infrastructure is critical at the Next Level. You cannot have the situation where you have the kind of power situation we have today and expect transformative progress. That is why we are focused on power and other infrastructure.
“We are focused on fixing the infrastructure in the country and we believe that if we fix the infrastructure, the roads and the rail, and especially power, we will be able to make significant progress.
“Today our rail project starts from the Apapa port so that we are able to clear the congestion in that port because the Lagos to Kano railway starts from the Apapa port.
“And we can start taking out cargo from the Apapa port using rail as an alternative means.
“For us, infrastructure is critical at the Next Level; we cannot have transformative development with the type of power we have today; that is why we are focused on power and other infrastructure; we are focused on fixing infrastructure in our country and we believe that if we are able to fix infrastructure in our country, we will be able to make significant progress.”
Those who attended the Colloquium include National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Governors Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano); Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi); Simon Lalong (Plateau); Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos); Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara); Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); Deputy Governor of Edo, Comrade Phillip Shuaibu; former governor of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola and former National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande.
Ministers in attendance include FCT Minister, Musa Mohammed, Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelama and Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
Others include Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan; former Sokoto state governor Aliyu Wammako; Lagos state governor-elect, Babatunde Sanwo-Olu and his deputy Obafemi Hamzat; Wife of the Vice President Dolapo Osinbajo; Wife of the Lagos state governor, Abimbola Ambode; Senator Shehu Sani; Engr. Segun Oni (former Deputy National Chairman, South of the APC); Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu; Senator Smart Adeyemi; former Akwa Ibom governor, Senator Godswil Akpabio; former President of the Newspaper Proprietor Association of Nigeria, Samaila Isa Funtua and Senator Khariat Gwadabe.
Also in attendance were traditional rulers from across the country led by the Oni of Ife; members of the National Assembly; members of the National Working Committee of the party, Comptroller of Customs, Col. Hamid Ali (rtd) and members of the diplomatic corp.
The International Conference centre, venue of the colloquium was filled to capacity with well- wishers and party faithful as well as members of the business community.