…you have nothing to celebrate – PDP tells FG
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has expressed optimism that President Buhari’s re-election will be a walk over because he has not failed to deliver on his campaign promises.
The minister said that the administration had kept its social contract with the Nigerian people by delivering on its campaign promises.
According to him, Buhari has put the nation on the path of sustainable growth and development, diversifying the economy like never before, tackling corruption at its very core and devising creative measures to secure lives and property.
He said: “After just three years, Nigeria is rising again like a phoenix from the ashes of years of massive looting of the national treasury, misgovernance and fallen oil prices. Under the able, focused and patriotic leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, this administration has recorded many firsts in so short a time, achievements that are beginning to impact positively on the lives of Nigerians.”
He stated that in just three years, the Buhari Administration had taken power generation to an all-time high of 7,000 MW, from 2,690 MW which it inherited.
Within the same period, he said the administration had taken distributable power to an all-time high of 5,000 MW.
He also boasted that within three years, the administration had moved Nigeria closer to self-sufficiency in rice production, while the country, he claimed was just two years away from meeting its target production of 6 million metric tonnes of milled rice, to meet Nigeria’s consumption requirement.
Mohammed said that in the process, the government had increased the number of rice farmers from 5 million to an all-time high of over 11 million and reduced rice import bill of $1.65 billion annually by 90 per cent.
He also said that the Buhari administration had slashed leakages in government spending that made corruption possible, through a diligent implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Whistle-Blower Policy.
He further said that the government had been feeding 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 schools in 24 states and employing 87,261 cooks in the process.
He also cited, as an achievement, the payment of conditional cash transfer of N5,000 monthly to 297,973 poorest and most vulnerable households.
“In just three years, this administration has delivered 10 million, 50kg bags of fertilizer at a low price of N5,500 (for 2017 alone). The country now has annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange and 60 billion annually in budgetary provisions for Fertilizer subsidies,” he added.
The minister said that the administration was determined to turn around the nation’s infrastructure fortunes, including power, roads and rail by spending an unprecedented N2.7 trillion ($9 billion) on infrastructure.
Other achievements touted by the minister included: raising capital expenditure in the yearly national budget to an unprecedented 30 per cent on the average; retaking every inch of Nigeria’s territory from insurgents; and, making an unprecedented investment in social programmes.
On the fight against insurgency, Mohammed said: “For those who are tempted to belittle our achievements, let me quickly say that on 29th of May 2015, when President Buhari was reeling out his agenda for the nation, Boko Haram was squarely in charge of a territory the size of Lebanon, occupying 24 local governments, collecting taxes, deposing and installing emirs and hoisting its flag; corruption levels in our society were at an all-time high and the economy was in the doldrums.”
He said that the Buhari government had made steady progress in the three priority areas it set for the nation: economy, security and the fight against corruption.
On the economy, the minister argued that the nation’s economy was back on the path of growth, after the recession of 2016-17.
To support his claim, Mohammed said the economy grew 1.95 percent in Q1 2018 and that consistent growth was achieved in the priority sectors of agriculture and solid minerals throughout the recession while inflation continued to fall for 15 consecutive months, from 18.7 percent to12.5 percent as of April 2018.
“External Reserves of $48 billion are the highest in 5 years, and more than double the $23 billion we met in 2015”, he added.
Other statistics he rolled out are: total exports in 2017 were 59.47% higher than for 2016;
in 2017, agriculture exports grew 180.7% above the value in 2016;
in 2017, raw material exports grew 154.2% above the value in 2016; and, in 2017, solid minerals exports grew 154.2% above the value in 2016; in 2017, exports of manufactured goods grew 26.8% above the value in 2016.
According to him, the first quarter of 2018 saw the fourth consecutive quarterly increase in capital importation since Q2 2017 while the total value of capital imported in the quarter stood at $6,303.63 billion, a year on year increase of 594.03%, and a 17.11% growth over the figure reported in the previous quarter.
He also cited the new foreign exchange window introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in April 2017 which he said has been recording an average of $1 billion in weekly turnover and had attracted about $45 billion in inflows in its first year, signalling rising investor confidence in Nigeria.
Mohammed said that the stock market ended 2017 as one of the best-performing in the world, with returns of about 40 percent.
Additional five million taxpayers, he said were added to the tax base since 2016, thereby bringing the total number of taxpayers to 19 million with tax revenue increasing to N1.17trn in Q1 2018, a 51% increase on the Q1 2017 figure.
All these he said were a few of the achievements of the Buhari administration in the past three years.
He said: “Where many saw challenges, we saw opportunities. Where many saw impossibilities, we saw possibilities. We surmounted every opposition on our path to deliver on our promises to Nigerians. While naysayers pretended to be blind to our achievements, Nigerians who are being positively impacted by the good works of President Buhari applaud and appreciate our efforts, from the feedback we are getting.”
He said that no government in the history of the country had ever done so much with so little.
Mohammed said the beneficiaries of the successes recorded by the administration knew the sincerity, transparency and accountability of this administration.
He said: “We cannot be a hostage to oil price or production levels. That means taking back control of our economy and making it productive and delivering value for all of our people. That’s exactly what we are doing.
“By building an economy that is no longer reliant on income from one commodity, thanks to the ongoing diversification process, we will be creating a sustainable basis for long-term and inclusive growth for all.
“We are keenly aware that government must be accountable, and this government is very accountable. “We are providing security, we are providing an enabling environment for businesses and we are delivering strong and effective public services. We want to assure Nigerians that we will continue to deliver on our campaign promises.”
On infrastructure, he cited ongoing construction works on roads, railway and at some airports as proof that the Buhari administration had demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s transport, power and health infrastructure.
He said: “In May 2018, the federal government launched the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority. The PIDF is kicking off with seed funding of US$1.3 billion. Funding for critical projects will no longer be a problem.”
On the fight against corruption, Mohammed said the whistleblowing policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance in December 2016 had since yielded the following in recoveries: N13.8bn from tax evaders, N7.8bn, $378million, £27,800 in recoveries from public officials targeted by whistleblowers.
In addition, he said N8.1 trillion was discovered to have been underpaid to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015 by 15 revenue-generating agencies.
On security, the minister said security and normalcy had been restored to the North-east.
He said El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club had since returned to their home base in Maiduguri (in April 2016), two years after relocating to Katsina State because of the insurgency.
In North-central, the minister said a Joint Military Intervention Force (JMIF), comprising Regular and Special Forces personnel from the Army, Air Force and Navy, and working in collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security (DSS), and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) had been deployed.
Apparently unimpressed by the ruling party’s chest thumping, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to use the occasion of the 2018 Democracy Day to remind Nigerians of its administration’s unfulfilled promises.
The opposition party maintained that in the last three years, such addresses had contained deceits, falsifications and unfulfilled promises.
It also noted that Nigerians have become frustrated and despondent by the magnitude of lies and deception told by the Buhari Presidency and the APC and would prefer to spend the next 12 calendar months contending with such past deceptions than listening to fresh falsifications.
PDP further said that the Buhari Presidency and the APC had, since assuming power in 2015, violated all tenets of democracy, trampled on citizens’ rights and should not be associated with democracy under any guise whatsoever.
“Indeed, this administration should not come close to the emblem of democracy, as such would be an unpardonable spat on the faces of millions of suppressed Nigerians and the graves of victims of extra-judicial executions under this administration, as catalogued by international bodies including, Transparency International (TI), Amnesty International (AI) and even the United States Department of State.
PDP said that instead of celebrating Democracy, Nigerians are today groaning in regret for electing an administration that has completely turned against them, engaging in clampdown with utmost impunity, setting aside our constitutional provisions and desecrating all democratically established institutions.
“We ask: How can Nigerians celebrate Democracy Day when the rights of citizens are daily trampled and they no longer enjoy their freedom to politically associate and aspire, as was the order under the PDP rule?
“Where is the democracy when government tends towards military fiat: where citizens are wantonly arrested, locked up and dehumanized just for expressing political opinions considered to be at variance with views held by those in power?
“Where is the democracy when opposition members have become endangered species and considered enemies of the state without any just cause; Where dissenting voices are daily harassed, arrested, handcuffed and arraigned on trumped-up charges, just to emasculate opposition?
“Where is the democracy when our National Assembly, the very bastion of our democracy, is under siege; where federal lawmakers are daily blackmailed, hounded, harassed, intimidated, detained and dehumanized; where strange elements invade the hallowed chambers of the Senate, threatened our senators and forcefully cart away the mace, yet nobody has been prosecuted?
“Where is the democracy when court judges are arrested in the middle of the night by agents of state; top government officials engage in actions and speeches that promote division, hatred and bloodletting; when journalists and media houses are being harassed and intimidated and our nation, in the last three years, ranking among the most hostile to free press?
Nigerians now look back with nostalgia to the 16 years of the PDP, years when government operated with a conscience, where democracy was nurtured and the rights, freedom, happiness and prosperity of all citizens were guaranteed and upheld.
“Above all, the PDP salutes the courage and resilience of Nigerians in the face of despotism, drive towards anarchy and totalitarianism.
“We are collectively strengthened by the fact that this year’s Democracy Day signals the reinvigorating of that democratic march by the citizens to end APC’s misrule and abuse of our rights.
“Nigerians must, therefore, use this year’s occasion to reinforce their commitment to rescue our nation by restoring democratic rule on the platform of the repositioned PDP, come 2019,” it said.