Some two thousand south eastern businessmen have contributed N1 billion to support the campaign of Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Imo state Governor Hope Uzodimma has said.
A statement signed by Director, Media & Publicity APC Presidential Campaign Council Bayo Onanuga quoted Uzodimma as saying this Thursday at the Town Hall meeting between Tinubu and business leaders in the region, held in Owerri, Imo state capital.
The statement said membership of the group of donors was drawn from the five states of the region.
The Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate hails from Anambra, one of the five east states where the donation reportedly came from.
The governor also said the meeting was a deliberate strategy of the party’s presidential candidate to interface with the business leaders and trade associations in the South-East “so he can factor their positions and views in the business of government when elected.”
“I am happy to say our people are fully in support of our Presidential candidate who has come to share his vision and plan for Nigeria and South East today. To support this aspiration the sum of N1billion naira has been raised by 2000 business owners across the South East states,” Onanuga quoted Uzodimma to have said.
According to the statement, a spokesman for the group, Emeka Mgbudem, said “the group believes in Nigeria and is committed to peace.”
He said members contributed N500, 000 each because they believe in Tinubu, after reading his Action Plan for Nigeria, adding “where an Ibo man puts his money, he puts his heart.”
The governor, however, asked Tinubu to remove the numerous checkpoints on the roads in the region and also build the roads linking the state capitals in the region.
Responding, Asiwaju Tinubu pledged to introduce technology in the clearing of goods at the ports that would render unnecessary the checkpoints on the roads.
He also promised to run a government where all Nigerians are treated equally.
Tinubu further pledged to create new industrial hubs in Aba (Abia state) and Owerri (Imo state), saying the already existing ones would be modernised, if elected as president in the 2023 general election.
The APC presidential standard-bearer said based on his experience and the lessons learnt, he understands the challenges traders, business owners, and people of the South-East are going through.
He said: “My government shall build an economy with a growing industrial base, more and better jobs for our youth and more high-quality home-grown goods to sell and merchandise.
“We shall establish industrial hubs throughout the nation and modernize existing ones. We will encourage and facilitate greater production in places like Owerri and Aba. At the same time, we shall broaden opportunities for you to engage in more international commerce by steering more activity towards ports outside of Lagos such as Onne.
“I envision the Owerri-Port Harcourt and Aba-Port Harcourt corridors becoming more active and lucrative trade and manufacturing corridors than they already are.
“My administration will establish policies that widen your horizons and expand your business reach both in terms of the goods you sell and your geographic reach to new markets.
“Working with the state governments, the CBN and banking industry, we shall embark on a two-pronged credit revolution.
“First, on the sale and supply side, we shall seek to drive down interest rates on business loans, especially for investment in manufacturing as well as small and medium sized enterprises.
“Second, we seek to make consumer loans more available. This will allow more people to afford and buy more high-quality goods from you. By empowering the consumer, we increase economic activity and prosperity for the overall economy as well as for your individual businesses.
“We will put in place policies that will boost trade and commerce. We will solve the forex crisis and ensure that traders like you have easy access to a unified forex market.
“We shall seek to revive struggling industries in this region and throughout the nation.
“Working with Governor Uzodimma, we shall continue to push to return Avutu Poultry to its status as a world class poultry farm. This will increase food and nutrition while creating jobs and giving us a chance to open new markets. Ada Palm can, once again, become a fulcrum of job creation and foreign currency earnings,” Tinubu stated.
On infrastructure development, the APC presidential flag-bearer said the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, would become fully operational to help large-scale movement of goods across the region, adding that priority would also be placed on the completion of the Abakaliki-Benin section of the rail project, integrating the South-East to the national rail system.
Tinubu said: “Our national infrastructure plan shall pay great attention to roadways eaten by erosion and flooding. We shall give traders the sound roads they deserve in order to move goods for the benefit of the rest of the population.
“For those of you in the agricultural sector, commodity exchange boards and other measures will be established to better link local markets and farmers with the global economy while also assuring them minimum prices for their harvests.
“The idea is to boost farm incomes, thus giving farmers greater incentive to produce more.
“We can hold to little of these good economic things without adequate peace and security. Our response to terror, kidnapping and violent criminality includes increased manpower, better communications and mobility equipment and training,” Tinubu added.
The former Lagos state governor stated that he would work towards integrating all regions in the country to ensure Nigeria continues to remain in unity.
“For me the unity of this nation is sacrosanct, it is non-negotiable. However, I realise that many people have genuine and painful grievances in need of fair and durable resolution.
“My government will be comprised of people from every section of the country and ready to discuss legitimate grievances with those in search of a peaceful resolution.
“Our nation is still in its infancy compared to other nations. I am proud of how far this nation has come. I also understand the great strides still to be made if we are to build for ourselves a nation of democratic good governance, development, justice, and unity.”
In attendance at the meeting were the APC National Chairman Sen. Abdullahi Adamu; the party’s vice-presidential candidate, Sen. Kashim Shettima; and Ebonyi state Governor David Umahi, amongst others.