Atiku Vows to Reverse Economic Woes as Moody’s Downgrades FG’s Credit Rating

•Bonds tumble after relegation 

•Former VP promises to reconstruct railway, Bakalori dam, end banditry in Zamfara 

• Rivers lawmaker says PDP candidate will solve Nigeria’s woes

James Emejo, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general election, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday lamented Moody’s downgrade of the federal government’s credit rating from B3 to Caa1, describing it as a direct indictment of the failure of the political leadership in the management of the country’s fiscal resources.

The former Vice President however promised to change the economic direction of the country for the better, if given the opportunity to lead.                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Atiku, in a statement made available to THISDAY, vowed to undertake far-reaching fiscal restructuring to improve liquidity and the management of the fiscal resources.

Moody’s in its downgrade highlighted the federal government’s deteriorating fiscal and debt position including the lack of capacity to respond to the same.

The rating agency further acknowledged the exacerbating policy trading-off between debt servicing and the financing of critical sectors, including education, health, and other social programmes as well as the government’s inability to curtail its addiction to deficit financing and its appetite for more funds from the CBN’s Ways and Means.

Consequently, the federal government bonds fell yesterday following last Friday’s downgrade.

Atiku however, insisted that the APC-led government lacked the critical competencies to initiate and implement innovative solutions to the country’s problems and deliver on their mandate with the desired impact.

He also vowed to undertake an immediate review of government spending with a view to eliminating all leakages arising from subsidy payments.

He also vowed to stop all fiscal support to ailing and under-performing state-owned enterprises as well as take measures to improve spending efficiency by gradual reduction of government recurrent expenditures.

Atiku also promised to undertake a review of government procurement processes to ensure value for money and eliminate all leakages.

He said he would also focus on non-debt financing by promoting a private sector-led infrastructure development fund for the financing and delivery of key infrastructure projects.

Describing Moody’s downgrade as “very significant”, Atiku said, “If given the opportunity to lead the country, I will act differently and change the economic direction of Nigeria for the better. I will undertake far-reaching fiscal restructuring to improve liquidity and the management of our fiscal resources…”

Reuters reported that longer-dated bonds were down the most, with the dollar-denominated 2051 Eurobond falling more than 2.8 cents in the dollar to 68.758 cents.

Only the Eurobond maturing this year fell less than one cent, it added.

Emerging Market Portfolio Manager at Abrdn, was quoted to have said, “That is a significant move because there will be a lot of forced selling. Pension funds don’t like to have names that are defaulting or even close to defaulting.”

As the bond prices tumbled, the premium or ‘spread’ investors demanded to hold Nigerian debt rather than ultra-safe U.S. Treasuries jumped 46 basis points to 777 basis points.

Nigeria’s bonds had outperformed other African and emerging market issuers over the last six months, according to JPMorgan.

According to Moody’s, “The review for downgrade focused on Nigeria’s fiscal and external position and the capacity of the government to address the ongoing deterioration – other than by alleviating the burden of its debt through any form of default, including debt exchanges or buy-backs.

“Immediate default risk is low, assuming no sudden, unexpected events such as another shock or shift in policy direction.”

At the same time, Atiku, in Zamfara, promised that his administration would reconstruct Bakalori Dam for the use of  farmers in the state as well as end banditry in the state if elected, saying the only way to end banditry was by voting out the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government.

Atiku stressed that apart from the people of Borno and Yobe States, there was no other state that suffered the loss of people as a result  of banditry apart from Zamfara state, and therefore condoled  and sympathised with the people that have lost loved ones to banditry in the state.

“We pray that God will bring this to an end, but the end of it all is if God wills, it is to vote for PDP, because APC brought this evil in the last seven to eight years of its administration. They brought insecurity, poverty, and disunity; our youth are not going to school because teachers are not paid in secondary and tertiary institutions.

“With your vote, you will expunge them. I promised to restore peace and security in Nigeria. I have done it in the past. I see no reason why with your support and backing by the grace of God there won’t be peace in Nigeria.”

He also said his administration would collaborate with the state government to  ensure the construction of railways in the state, as well as revive the closed down textile company.

In a related development, a Rivers state lawmaker representing Bonny/Degema federal Constituency, Hon Doctor Farah Dagogo, has assured Nigerians that if voted into office, Atiku and his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa woulf resolve most of the challenges facing problems of Nigeria.

He noted that the PDP presidential candidate’s five-point-agenda would set Nigeria towards the path of peaceful coexistence, engender viable educational standards and economic prosperity.

The federal lawmaker expressed optimism that the current maladies bedeviling the country and its populace across all facets would be remedied with the ‘all-encompassing five-point-agenda of the PDP Presidential Candidate’.

Dagogo made this known during a sensitisation parley with Atiku’s supporters in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State.

He said the agenda of the PDP candidate was tailored towards restoring Nigeria’s unity, strengthening national security, foster economic prosperity, improve educational delivery and restructure the polity.

The lawmaker who analysed the agenda said restructuring would address the perennial attack on the country’s unity that had seen an alarming increase in the numbers of Nigerian citizens.

“Part of the problems that had bedeviled our country in recent times is the need to address the restructuring menace and that of resource control, which is paramount to the people of the Niger Delta and other regions in the country with natural resources. For the first time, we have a candidate aspiring to the highest office in the country who is willing to tackle those issues heads on, ” he said.

On the issue of insecurity, Dagogo reminded the gathering that Atiku had pledged to establish a strong and effective government that guarantees the safety and security of life and property.

He assured voters that the PDP’s presidential candidate would neutralise insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and other crimes by engaging state governments to be more viable as centers of development, with decentralisation of security institutions, as well as relying mainly on alternative approaches to dispute resolution, if elected.

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