The Presidency on Wednesday clashed with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the latter’s claim that the country was collapsing under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government.
It (the Presidency) referred the opposition to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s economic scorecard in the past four years to show how it has taken the economy out of the woods.
“Nigeria’s economy is not in trouble,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement last night. It was a reply to a claim by the PDP leadership that the government has scored below average in tackling insecurity, political uncertainties and poor economy.
PDP spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan said the opposition political party decided to raise the red flag because the country was collapsing under the APC.
But Shehu insisted that the economy had grown under President Buhari.
He said: “In keeping with historical trends, there is less economic activity during the electoral cycle. For instance, the economy grew by 2.35 per cent in Q2 of 2015 and 3.96 per cent in Q1 of 2015 as compared to 5.94 per cent in Q4 of 2014
“While foreign direct investment can help, it is not the only source of investment in the economy. There is also domestic investment, which is either undertaken by the government or by the private sector.
“It is also noteworthy that capital importation into Nigeria grew by 21.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to the last quarter of 2018. Indeed, foreign portfolio investment (which is still foreign investment) was $7.14 billion in the first quarter of the year.
“A look at business pages in newspapers shows that there is a lot of business activity going on in the country.
“Two stories in today’s paper point to increasing economic activity.
“First is that the profit of UACN grew in the first half of this year by 61 per cent (pg 12 The Nation).
“Second is that Business Day (pg1) states that cargo imports jumped by 21 per cent in the first half of 2019.”
Increasing imports, Shehu noted, is a pointer to greater economic activity and the availability of foreign exchange with which to conduct business in the country.
He went on: “A major constraint to business was the Apapa gridlock which a number of companies had listed as the major impediment to doing business. This situation has improved tremendously (see pg 23 of The Nation)”
He said that President Buhari improved relations with China, the United States (U.S.) and Europe and won their support for the administration’s development agenda in his first four years.
According to Shehu, President Buhari has channelled unprecedented sums of money into infrastructure development.
He said: “Capital spending has been kept at about 30 percent of annual budgets. Construction of roads, highways, public transport and airports has sharply increased. The government is spending heavily on power.
“This, combined with private sector investment, has grown power generation capacity.
“All said and done, President Buhari remains the best hope for the Nigerian economy. The country needs change and this remains the person with the will and determination to deliver.”
The PDP leadership had expressed a deep concern that the nation, which it said was hitherto a prosperity hub and a reference point for democracy, personal freedom and good governance, was becoming a failed state.
It lamented that the Buhari administration could not has been unable to guarantee any of its fundamental duties, thus making citizens “now desperate to take their destinies in their hands”.
According to Ologbodiyan, the PDP leadership took the decision to flash the red flag after a crucial meeting in Abuja yesterday.
The PDP statement reads: “The red flag has become urgent following the manifest total loss of faith by Nigerians across the board, in the ability of the Buhari Presidency to provide a democratic leadership that can engender a peaceful and secure nation.
“It is clear that the APC and the Buhari Presidency have held Nigerians hostage. Nigerians are now being treated like a conquered people. They can no longer freely exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights; executive high-handedness has become a state policy just as the APC government, burdened by challenges of illegitimacy, has lost direction and only thriving in vindictiveness.”
The PDP alleged that the government opted to breathe down on perceived opponents following what it called the collapse of the APC’s defence at the tribunal.
It said: “Our party has also noticed that since the defence of the APC and President Buhari collapsed at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the APC and its government have taken to harassment and repression of Nigerians by surreptitiously suspending constitutional provisions of freedom of speech and association in our country.
“Many compatriots are being taken in as political prisoners all in a bid to foist a siege mentality and suppress public opinion.
“Today, the Buhari Presidency cannot guarantee the security and safety of citizens. Bloodletting and violence have become the order of the day. Invaders, insurgents, kidnappers and killers have taken over major highways and communities; our nation’s security machinery have become overstretched; Nigerians now live in palpable fear; they cannot freely travel within their country and the government has no answers.
“On the economic front, President Buhari has ruined our economy and led our nation to become the world’s capital of poverty, while condoning the humongous corruption that has become the hallmark of his failed administration.
“Sadly, President Buhari’s anti-development policies, the corruption in his government as well as its failure to provide security have scared away foreign investors from our nation”.
PDP observed that only recently, the United Nations declared that “43 per cent of Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has taken flight to other countries, adding that unemployment has gone out of proportion and there is no hope in sight.”
The party called on Nigerians of good faith as well as the international community to speak out against the prevailing situation before it is too late.
It urged Nigerians not to despair, assuring them that the PDP candidate in the February 23 presidential election would get judicial victory at the Presidential Election Petitions’ Court (PEPC).
When contacted for reaction, the APC said it would not glorify the PDP with a response.
Its spokesman Lanre Issa-Onilu told The Nation last night: “My response is that when the PDP starts making sense, we’ll respond to them. We have issues of governance to deal with an attempt to respond to their senseless talk will be a distraction.”
Follow us on Twitter at @thesignalng
Copyright 2019 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to www.signalng.com and other relevant source.