Nigerians Will Yearn For Tinubu To Continue In Office – Olaosebikan

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Seasoned journalist, Public Relations guru, tourism developer and politician, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan in this interview on one year in office of President Bola Tinubu told journalists that the president is on course, adding that 

Nigerians would yearn for him to continue in office in 2027. MUYIWA OYINLOLA presents the excerpts:

Q. What is your assessment of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s one year in office?

The government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a strong and well-focused one. Being a very strong leader himself, the president has brought strength, valor and a great deal of pragmatism into governance most especially against the lackluster, inertia government of his predecessor. Without any equivocation, I would say President Bola Tinubu is running the precise type of government we require at this point in time.

Q.  Do you think he has taken the right step by removing the fuel subsidy on the day he was being inaugurated as the President?

That happened about one year ago and harping on it now would not fetch us anything. What I would say is that whether he removed it on the first day or any other day, the reality is that the subsidy must go and removing it would certainly have some unpalatable consequences. Like most Nigerians, personally I am feeling the pain of the aftermath of the removal but I am sanguine that Nigeria and Nigerians will be better for it.  It is just a normal experience in growth. 

Q. Sequel to the removal of the subsidy, the federal government doled out some palliative measures including the increment in the state allocations, yet Nigerians are still languishing in hardship. What do you think can be done to address the issue of hunger?

The truth is that it is difficult to see the impact of palliatives in big societies and countries like ours. For a nation of over 250 million people, gauging the impact of palliatives is a tough issue. Palliatives are introduced to bring immediate relief to those worst hit by the adverse effects of the removal. But are they really feeling the impact? The answer is no. The president did well by increasing the allocations to states and direct allocations of essential items to the states. However, what the states are doing to the increased allocations is another thing entirely. The responsibility of the government is to create common wealth that would be enjoyed seamlessly by all.

Q- Do you think this government is doing that?

Yes, the government has come out with measures that would lead to generation of ‘common wealth’ for all.

The first major one is the students’ loans Scheme recently launched by the government. The loan scheme which is aimed at providing financial assistance to qualified Nigerians for tuitions, other fees and upkeep during their studies and vocational skills acquisition would ease the burden on the parents and guardians. For me, any serious effort or program aimed at fighting poverty and want must first all reduce the burden on the common man. It is the most visible and reasonable way to combat poverty. The policy must make education, health, power and employment accessible to the…  The masses, the yoke of the masses must be made light by the government. The new students’ loan scheme initiative of the Tinubu government is laudable. We all must support the government to make it work.

Also, the concerted efforts being made by the government in improving the supply of electricity across the country are also commendable as steady electricity would generate more employment and enhance development in both the urban and rural areas. The government has also come up with implementable programs on health, housing and small scale business development.

Q. Do you think President Tinubu is using the style he adopted to rule Lagos State when he was the Governor now? If so, why is it not working for Nigeria?

He is using the style and even in a greater and more perceptible way and it is working. Let me give you some instances. Let us start here in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. Have you noticed the massive transformation, huge development being recorded in Abuja in the last ten months? That shows clearly that a leader with great mission and vision is in charge unlike what happened in the last eight years when Abuja’s growth was completely retarded. You will see that Abuja is changing now almost on a daily basis. People are easily missing their ways in Abuja because of the massive development taking place. You will see well planned development with human face all over the city. That is excellence in development.

Look at what President Tinubu is turning the mining sector into for the betterment and greatness of Nigeria. At present Nigeria is steadily growing and implementing robust mining policies and programs that would earn the nation revenue in trillions of Naira and foreign exchange; give massive employment to both skilled and unskilled Nigerians and make the nation attains the pride of place among the comity of nations. You could see the state governors trooping into the Ministry of Mines with great enthusiasm and assurances. That is upright progress in diversifying sources of revenue for our great country.

Another area is in the management of travelling documents of Nigerians. Before the new President assumed office, there were over 200,000 applications for Nigerian passports in the Immigration offices all over Nigeria that had been there for years and months. But within a month or so, the present government under the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed cleared all the backlogs and made issuance of Nigerian passports seamless in Nigeria and in all our embassies all over the world. That is providing functional systems and putting smiles on the faces of Nigerians at home and abroad.

The Nigeria Customs Service has also been recording unprecedented successes in revenue generation, trade facilitation and improved reputation for Nigeria. The service in just the first quarter of this year generated an unprecedented revenue of 1.3Trillion Naira marking a 122.35%  increase over the revenue generated within the same period last year.  This is guaranteeing resources for capital and social developments.

Another example is what I call ‘the uncommon audacity’ in infrastructural development on-going in the Ministry of Works. In a ministry, where for want of how to get the then badly damaged Lagos/Ibadan Express repaired,  Nigeria’s President, from 1999 to 2007, President Olusegun Obasanjo gave the rehabilitation of the most important road in West Africa to a lawyer who for the whole eight years did absolutely nothing on the road; where the combined 16 years tenure of the late Musa Yaradua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari’s governments could not completely fix the road; the same ministry in Tinubu’s government has not only completed the Lagos/Ibadan Express Road in less than ten months but embarked on the most important infrastructural development in Africa today, the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Super Highway.  

As a mark of seriousness and commitment to deliver the project to time, compensations have been paid and construction works in progress. This is audacity at its best.

This is the situation in virtually all the ministries and agencies of the government now, because the man at the top is capable, competent, focused and providing inspirational leadership for the country. As he did in Lagos, President Tinubu has appointed the right persons into the appropriate positions. At the national level, he is doing what he is reputed for, seeking and engaging the best amongst us and putting round pegs in round holes. And as it is done in football, he has some reserves and if you like to call them Aces that he would be injecting into the government as circumstances demand.

I however, agree with you that Nigerians are suffering but with my understanding of the ongoing reforms and the profound leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu the sufferings would be short lived. Very soon and I mean very soon, Nigeria’s situation will change for the better. It is already manifesting.

Q. With the current situation of the country, do you see Nigerians returning Tinubu in 2027 for a second term?

Tomorrow belongs to God. I pray that Allah spares him for us beyond 2027. He is the best for the country in 2027. Let me make this postulation.  You remember I made one on his birthday in 2022 that he would celebrate his 71st birthday as the President elect of Nigeria. That Asiwaju Bola Ahmed has the uncanny ability to win against all odds. Take whatever negatives you are seeing now as the odds against his chances in 2027, which I know clearly that he would surmount luminous. By the first/second quarter of next year when the reforms being put in place now begin to yield fruits Nigerians would see glaringly the need for President Bola Tinubu to continue. Nigerians would yearn for him to continue in 2027. Mark my words.

Q. As a senior citizen of Oyo State, a politician and respected journalist, what is your assessment of Governor Seyi Makinde’s Government in the last five years?

Though I may disagree with some aspects of his government, I will commend him for running a peaceful and non-chaotic government. He has proven to be methodical and calculating and these are very crucial to successful governance. As a politician and person with great belief in grassroots development, I am impressed with his handling of real grassroots development. Anybody can say anything about Governor Seyi Makinde, the soft spoken governor has written his name in gold when you talk of infrastructural development in Oyo State and indeed the entire South West. Like what I said about the President, the audacity, bravery with which Engr. Seyi Makinde is handling the Circular Road and legacy projects of former governors has made him tower over all his predecessors as a governor. He will be leaving behind a project that would make a lot of sense in the development of Oyo and the South West. It will outlive generations and be well applauded by all.

The 110km circular road nearing completion is primarily, to decongest and ease movement along the ever busy Ibadan end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as well as the Ibadan-Ife expressway. The circular road now named Senator Rasheed Ladoja Circular Road, is a big boost for rural development in the outer Ibadan local government areas and capable of achieving the much needed urban renewal of the ancient city with the emergence of better planned New Ibadan towns.

For this to work perfectly, Governor Makinde should review and strengthen the town planning system in Oyo State. The new towns coming after the circular road must not be like the poorly planned Muslim, Olorunsoogo, Amuloko, Oremeji, Odo-ona and the likes.

As I pray that Allah gives Governor Seyi  Makinde the grace to complete the project before the end of his tenure as promised, it is appropriate to commend his predecessors from the late Alhaji Lam Adesina, Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja, late Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala and the late Senator Abiola Ajimob who also contributed in one way or the other to development of the road.

Q. You spoke of completing legacy projects of his predecessors, what projects are you referring to?

There are so many of them, including the dualization of Bashorun to Akobo, Gate to Old Ife Road, Moniya to Iseyin of Governor Ajimobi and particularly the New Garage- Apata Road started by Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala.

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