President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday faulted the World Bank report which placed Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world, saying “the nation is not poor’’.
Addressing workers at the May Day rally held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, the President said: “The challenge of the country is not poverty, but redistribution of wealth.’’
He said the realities on ground did not portray the country as a poor nation, but a nation whose abundant wealth needed to be evenly redistributed.
The President added that his administration was working assiduously and putting policies in place to ensure that Nigerians had access to financial resources to create wealth for themselves.
He said: “Nigeria is not a poor country. Nigerians are the most travelled people. There is no country you go that you will not see Nigerians. The GDP of Nigeria is over half a trillion dollars and the economy is growing at close to 7 per cent.
“Aliko Dangote was recently classified among the 25 richest people in the World.
“I visited Kenya recently on a state visit and there was a programme for Nigerian and Kenyan business men to interact and the number of private jets that landed in Nairobi that day was a subject of discussion in Kenyan media for over a week.
“If you talk about ownership of private jets, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries, yet they are saying that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries.
“Some of you will experience that there is an amount of money you will give to a Nigerian who needs help and will not even regard it and thank you but if you travel to other countries and give such an amount, the person will celebrate.
“But the World Bank statistics shows that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries. Our problem is not poverty, our problem is redistribution of wealth.’’
The President added that “probably wealth is concentrated in very few hands and a number of people do not have access to it and that is why my administration is committed in terms of financial inclusiveness and we are working very hard to achieve this.’’
Jonathan noted that in the agriculture sector, government introduced the electronic wallet for farmers in rural areas so they could access income through bank facilities.
He said government was also moving agriculture from just a rural development programme to wealth creation and major business programme, adding that government had taken pro-active steps and policies to stabilise power “so that small and medium-scale enterprises will thrive.
“The key commitment of government is to make sure that so many Nigerians have access to finance so that they will be able to create wealth for themselves.’’
The President also read certain political undertones in the processes of ratings by international bodies and global rating agencies.
He explained that “so many countries were downgraded economically in the few past months including some African countries.
“They looked at Nigeria and we gave explanations and they could not see any convincing reason but to downgrade our economy, they left us as BB minus.
“They said elections are coming, politicians are shouting at themselves, it may affect their economy, we will no longer give you stable outlook but give you negative outlook, which is same BB minus.
“When so many countries have been downgraded, they said Nigeria is one of the five poorest countries.’’
Jonathan assured that with the support of Nigerians and in particular, the organised labour, the nation would overcome its challenges and take its pride of palce in the globe.
“We must collectively move this country to where we want to go. Government is working with labour leaders and workers of this country to create wealth. We will sure move this country to where we want to go.’’
The President also reiterated that the on-going National Conference was not personal but meant to evolve a roadmap that would redefine Nigeria.
He said he had no personal agenda for initiating the Conference, but for the common good and progress of the country.
He added that “a number of people came to me that any President that set up this kind of conference must have a roadmap set for him. But I said to them that the roadmap is the roadmap for Nigeria.
“Jonathan has no personal roadmap for the conference. You can go and ask the over 500 people that are there whether I have sent any emissary to anybody to define anything for my own interest. I repeat, the issue is not Jonathan, I have spent three quarters of my life on earth.” – The Nation.