The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu on Thursday, promised the people of the South-East region massive economic development.
Tinubu stated this at a TownHall meeting with leaders of the private sector and trade associations in Owerri, Imo State capital.
He was responding to a remark made by Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi.
Umahi argued that the Southeast had been neglected and abandoned since the end of the civil war, and asked what Tinubu had in stock for the region.
The APC presidential candidate said once he becomes president, he would create new industrial hubs in Aba and Owerri, while already existing ones would be modernised.
He also spoke about making access to credit facilities available to traders across the region and the country in general.
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 modernise 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 toward 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 the 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.
“Secondly, 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 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.”
On infrastructural development, Tinubu disclosed that the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri would become fully operational to help the large-scale movement of goods across the region while priority would also be placed on the completion of the Abakaliki-Benin section of the rail project, integrating the Southeast to the national rail system.
“Our national infrastructure plan shall pay great attention to roadways eaten by erosion and flooding. We shall give traders the sound roads they deserve 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 a 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.
On the unity of the country, the former Lagos governor said 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.”
A statement issued by the Tinubu Media Office in Owerri said the TownHall meeting was attended by APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the party’s Vice Presidential Candidate Senator Kashim Shettima, Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi who is the Coordinator for South, House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Hon. Idris Wase, APC Deputy National Chairman, South, Barrister Emma Enekwu, Deputy National Chairman, North, Senator Abubakar Kyari, and some members of the National Working Committee for the party.