•PDP: Jobs losses, poverty are president’s only legacies
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday that emerging indices showed that President Muhammadu Buhari was slowly but steadily growing the country’s economy, explaining that it was a matter of time before its impact would start hitting the people.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a related development countered the APC, saying the high rate of unemployment in the country and the 90 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty were the main legacies of the president’s over three and half years in the saddle.
Speaking on the ‘Morning Show’ of Arise TV, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY, the Director of Strategic Communications of the APC’s presidential campaign, Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN, said Buhari’s administration is turning the focus away from a mono economy to an economy beyond oil.
Quoting a report published a month ago by THISDAY, Keyamo said the non-oil sector grew the country’s GDP by 1.8 per cent.
According to him, “This is the first time in history that the non-oil sector is adding so much to the GDP. That is how we are getting the indices right again. There is a slow but steady focus of the economy to the fundamentals.
“We are not just going to be giving handouts again. For 16 years there was no concentration on non oil sector. For 16 years there was no concentration on the building of critical infrastructures to reflect the economy.
“To put the economy back on the path of growth you have to get the macro economy right, you have to get the critical infrastructure right and rebuild them and the micro economy will begin to fall in place.
“The future of a nation, the growth of an economy doesn’t depend on momentary rise in the price of rice and beans and that is what they are using to deceive Nigerians and the ordinary people.”
When asked to comment on the endemic poverty situation in the country, the APC campaign spokesman said fighting poverty is not like moving it into a room or keeping it in the dustbin.
According to him, fighting poverty requires careful economic planning and execution of critical infrastructural projects that would help alleviate the suffering of the masses.
Keyamo said, for instance, the Mambilla hydro power project he said was abandoned by the PDP administration for over 16 is now about to start this month.
He also said that due to government’s new policy direction, the country has once again restarted local production of fertilizer, which has led to the reduction of its price from N10, 000 to between N6, 000 and N5,000.
He told Arise TV, “First, how do you arrest poverty? First of all, you have to get the macro economy correctly; you have to address the building of critical infrastructures; you have to address the issue of power, so that you can now revive the micro, small and medium scale industry that is one of the major tools around the world to clear out people who are unemployed.
“When artisans, tailors, welders begin to work optimally because there is power you will have a lot of people having jobs so now they are addressing the issue of power because we have raised it from nearly 3,900 megawatts that we found to about 7,000 megawatts.
“Rice import has dropped from 644,000 to 23,000 metric tonnes; about 95 per cent drop in the import of rice alone because of the Anchor Borrowers Program.”
Reacting to speculations that the absence of the wife of the president, Aisha, at the APC rally at Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, was evidence of her lack of support for husband’s re-election bid, Keyamo stated that the president’s wife is set to lead a campaign for the president’s re-election.
He said the president’s wife will soon begin to lead her women support group to canvass support for the re-election of her husband, adding that she is prepared to give 100 per cent in support to her husband.
Keyamo said, “She is just warming up to hit the road, I am sure you have seen the list released this morning; there is a release this morning of a youth and women support group headed by the first lady and that youth and women support group is an expanded group – more expansive than the campaign group, which comprises of people across the country and the wife of the president is just warming up to hit the road. So, just wait and see her level of support. She is 100 per cent ready and 100 percent in support of her husband and you will see her very soon in the next few days.”
PDP: Jobs Losses, Poverty are President’s only Legacies
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said the high rate of unemployment in the country and the 90 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty are the only legacies of Buhari in the last three and half years.
Atiku, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday by his media aide, Mr. Paul Ibe, noted that Buhari claimed to have fulfilled all his promises to Nigerians during his party’s zonal rally in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, when in fact he is yet to redeem a single pledge.
According to him, “Ironically, a day before the president made that statement, it was revealed that the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty had increased from 87 million to 90 million in just four months. Going by that sharp rate of increase, the whole country will be in extreme poverty if Nigerians make the mistake of re-electing Buhari.”
Atiku added, “Except the president made a vow to impoverish Nigerians, it is hard to see how he could have fulfilled his promises with such pervasive poverty and hunger in the land.
“This is even as the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics revealed a week to the president’s unfortunate statement that unemployment had doubled from the 14 per cent he met it in May 2015 to 23.1 per cent in December of 2018.
“But the most blatant insult from the president was his assertion at Uyo that ‘We have defeated Boko Haram.”
“It was most insensitive of the president to have said such on a day that foreign and domestic media reported the entrapment of our gallant troops by Boko Haram/ISWAP in Baga, with as much as 700 reported missing.”
The former vice president said faced with such delusions and obvious denial of reality by Buhari, it has become expedient to revisit the demand by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) for all presidential candidates to submit themselves for a mental health test because clearly someone has badly lost touch with happenings around him.
He noted, “Even more indicting is the statement from the US based International Strategic Studies Association, which revealed that the Boko Haram insurgency was lingering due to the massive corruption around the president.
“How would those soldiers feel, how would their families feel, how would their colleagues in the barracks feel when they are facing a life and death situation and their commander-in-chief is impervious to reality?”