The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, 19th March, 2015, held a town hall meeting with members of the Lagos State tradesmen and artisans, promising that an APC government at the centre would provide basic support to the businesses especially with regards to power supply which constitute 40 to 50 per cent of the operating cost.
General Buhari who spoke at the BlueRoof Hall, LTV Complex, Agidingbi, venue of the interactive session which also had in attendance the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Babatunde Fashola, SAN,and his Rivers State counterpart who is also Director General of the Buhari-Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Organisation, added that his administration would be committed to power supply towards reducing the burden on small businesses.
He added that regular power supply means that the average artisan would save about N1,500 a day spent on purchase of fuel and that it would amount to about N45,000 when calculated in a month and and about N540,000 per annum.
He reiterated that life would be more meaningful for the average artisan if he can spend the N540,000 that he spends yearly on fuel purchase on other necessities of life for him and his family.
He also gave an assurance that his administration if elected into office would improve the security of the country and ensure that every self employed person can carry on his or her business in a safe and secure environment.
While giving an assurance that his administration would ensure an improvement of the Nigerian economy and a strengthening of the exchange rate towards providing cheaper operating cost to small scale businesses and also improve their ability to purchase tools and raw materials for their business.
The APC candidate stressed that a closer look at the state of the Nigerian economy in the last 16 years at the federal level will reveal clearly the dangers that have been done to the well being of the economy by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking during the interactive session which was also part of the meeting, General Buhari said an APC Government would assist the artisans and tradesmen to overcome the problem of access to loans by guaranteeing such loans and ensuring that it is accessed at very low interest rates to encourage the sustenance of such businesses.
He added that education is not an end in itself but that every educated person also required skills to be able to impart knowledge, adding that the APC recognizes the role of the artisans and tradesmen in the development of any society.
General Buhari stated that the three main problems confronting Nigeria today are security, economy and the corruption adding that his government would ensure security of life and property and also ensure that the armed forces is well trained and equipped.
While responding to a question on how the Federal Government can assist the state to maintain some of the infrastructure left behind by the movement to Abuja, General Buhari promised that an APC government at the centre would value whatever Lagos has spent on maintaining the infrastructure and within the available resources would respond to it.
Also addressing the gathering, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu lamented the frustrations of small businesses under the present Federal Government.
He added that at a particular moment in the history of every nation, there comes a time when the need arises for very intelligent and experienced people to steer the ship of state adding that this is one of such period for Nigeria.
Asiwaju Tinubu also said General Buhari once served as a Minister for Petroleum Resources and built new refineries, created jobs and did not resort to importation of finished crude products.
The former Governor said the present Federal Government is anti- small scale business men and women because the same Federal Government that is not providing power to the artisans and tradesmen is also asking them to pay for electricity not used.
He urged the people to vote massively for all candidates of the APC starting with General Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential elections on March 28 and be ready to make use of the technology that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) intends to introduce for screening voters.
In his address, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN said the next election is going to be “a clean hand election” in terms of the artisans and tradesmen who are mechanics, plumbers, carpenters who often get their hands dirtied with different items in the course of practising their vocation.
He reiterated that the 2015 elections is about the artisans and tradesmen ensuring that they wash their hands with soap and water before going to the polling booth as part of the requirements for rescuing Nigeria.
He said regrettably Nigerians are also carrying power packs to charge their phones anywhere they are going now thus creating jobs and money for Chinese artisans from where the items are produced.
He urged all those present to take home the message to their employees and communities about the fact that the PDP government at the centre does not like artisans by virtue of its policies.
He stressed that a country that imports fuel and diesel does not like artisans and this is because their jobs are exported overseas for nationals from countries where crude products are imported from.
Fashola explained that during the stint of General Muhammadu Buhari as Petroleum Minister, Nigeria exported petroleum products and artisans were employed but today with massive importation of crude oil, jobs have been lost.
He said if today, state governments cannot collect statutory federal allocations from the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) and companies are laying off staff especially the big ones where over 5,000 workers have been laid off, it speaks volume of the kind of government that is operating at the centre.
Governor Fashola said the different candidates of the APC cannot elect themselves but can only be elected by the people, asking the audience to indicate if they are ready to elect General Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and all other candidates of the party, to which they all replied in the affirmative.
Earlier, the President of the Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans, Chief Bola Sanusi had commended the Lagos State Government for its efforts at making life better for artisans and tradesmen in Lagos.
He also expressed gratitude to the present administration for creating an enterprise zone in Gberigbe as a hub for all industries, adding that the artisans and tradesmen would massively support the candidates of the APC at the next general elections.
The town hall meeting was attended by many dignitaries including the former Governor of Ekiti State, Engineer Segun Oni; wife of the presidential running mate, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo; Deputy Governors of Lagos and Osun States, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire and Chief Titi Laoye- Tomori respectively; Coordinator of the Buhari-Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Organisation in Lagos, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke; and several members of the artisans and tradesmen associations.