Tinubu to Nigerians in Paris: From night guard, security man, door man to president, I’m fulfilled
‘…With perseverance, determination, persistence we can achieve our desire’
…Explains reasons he sacked CBN boss Emefiele
…Assures on palliatives over subsidies
… Says ‘I almost fell ill with joy when I was declared president’
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has said from a night guard, security man, doorman in America to Nigeria’s Presidency, he’s fulfilled. President Tinubu said this Friday in Paris, France, while painting his life’s trajectory.
He said having gone through the whole gamut of life’s stages, he was excited that he had achieved his aim – to lead the country into prosperity and greatness and also change it.
“I have been in America, in the UK; I have been a night guard, security, a door man in America. But I have achieved my aim,” Tinubu told a meeting of the Nigerian community in France.
On the suspension and questioning of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Godwin Emefiele, by the DSS, the president said the country’s financial system had been in a bad shape before he took the reins on May 29, 2023.
“Then the financial system was rotten; a few people were making business with our money. And then you yourself, you stopped sending money home (Nigerians in the Diaspora) to our poor parents. Several windows that are gone now, are gone.
“The man is in the hands of authorities, something is being done about that, they will sort themselves out.
“We have security challenges in the country. Maybe that is how they are fueling insecurity; we have to look at everything. We won’t change the financial system, it will work for you,” he said.
On his emergence as the president following his victory in the February 25 polls, he said, “I thank you. Whether you voted for me or you didn’t vote for me; whether you campaigned for me or you didn’t campaign for me, I am your president.
“By the grace of God, I have to work on your behalf and make Nigeria a turning point for prosperity. So, your president is here. I danced for it and I have to continue to be prepared for it.
“The challenges are enormous, but do we have hope? Yes, with perseverance, determination, and persistence we can achieve whatever we desire.”
Speaking on his preparedness for the job as president, Tinubu said, “It is clear to me; I know the road and I have been through what many of you have been through outside the country.
“To all of you, our hope is rewarded. To all of you, the courage is here. And the promise of a better future is a must for us. I am here on a dual carriageway. What to do and or do I respond to the new question of environmental challenges?
“How do I present my case for Nigeria whose dependency on fossil fuel is being challenged?
“I have transportation challenges, electricity challenges, and infrastructure challenges just to name a few. And I have a giant elephant (fuel subsidy) in the house. I let it out without bringing the house down. We are focused.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us. Our diversity is an asset if we know how to use it for our prosperity; born of the same father, in the same house except living in the different rooms. We must promote unity, stability and economic justice for every one of us.
“Making just a few smugglers rich; some countries were ‘bleaching’ us. Courage was missing. Sometimes I became an advocate of it. Remove this thing but God gave me the opportunity when I danced around, strategise with my team, and we won the Presidency.’’
Recounting his mood when he was declared winner by the country’s electoral umpire (INEC), President Tinubu recalled that he was overjoyed and almost had feverish excitement.
“The day I was declared winner I almost fell ill with joy. A few friends visited me rejoicing, so I asked the question you asked me to bring this trophy, this victory, what do you do with it?
“I brought it. I won. We must achieve it. We must change Nigeria with it.’’
On his inauguration speech, Tinubu said when he and his team were brainstorming on the address, they failed to include the issue of petrol subsidies.
“Then Wale Edun and co, we started debating, putting my speech together without the question of subsidies. I got to the podium, I was possessed with courage and I said the subsidy was gone.
“They thought it was the joke of the century until I called NNPC. We are tired of feeding smugglers, making a few people rich and subsidizing the next door neighbour.
“I met with the President of Banana Republic, everybody is equal now; we are friends. We are conjoined twins joined by the hips, how we will separate each other is with this fuel subsidy. Let us see whether we will survive or not but we are going to survive you,’’ the president assured.
On the initial reaction and plan by some people including the organised labour to protest, he said: “Are you part of the jeun jeun? Do you want money to increase in palliatives and transportation? What are you protesting about? Are you sharing part of the subsidy?
“If you protest I will join you and protest against it. And they stopped. No protest.
Palliatives we will get, but we have to save the money in order to embark on palliatives.’’
Tinubu also recalled how himself and his team led by Mr. Wale Edun, the then Commissioner for Finance and Budget in his administration as Lagos state governor (1999-2007) raised the inherited monthly internally generated revenue of only N600 million to about N50 billion.
“It is over N50 billion every month now and Lagos is on auto pilot and anybody intelligent enough can navigate it.’’