By Tobi Soniyi, Onyebuchi Ezibo in Abuja and Olakiitan Victor in Ado-Ekiti
• Fayose raises alarm over declining allocations
The nation’s economy was on the front burner on Sunday as President Muhammadu Buhari declared that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government, under Dr Goodluck Jonathan, lied to Nigerians and the world about the buoyancy and vibrancy of the Nigerian economy during its tenure.
President Buhari was reacting to a statement credited to the PDP in which the party’s spokesperson, Mr. Olisa Metuh, alleged that the President was making harmful and unabating statements that could portend danger for the economy, the general image of the country and scare away investors.
Stressing that he would never stop telling Nigerians and the world the truth about the real situation of the country, President Buhari, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, also noted that he would not be distracted by the likes of Metuh.
The president explained that he would not in the guise of “marketing” the country, refrain from telling Nigerians and the world the emerging truths about the abject state in which years of plundering by a PDP leadership had left the Nigerian treasury and economy.
According to him, he would not in the name of “marketing” or “attracting” investors, follow in the footsteps of the ousted PDP administration and its discredited officials who shamelessly lied to Nigerians and the world about the buoyancy and vibrancy of an economy they had bled dry for personal gain, when it was very obvious to the discerning, that the Nigerian economy was headed for serious trouble.
He dismissed what he described as the attempts by the PDP and its agents to distract him from the job he was elected to do, adding that such efforts would fail.
“Buhari will remain true to the virtues of honesty, integrity, sincerity, incorruptibility and plain-speaking which endeared him to Nigerians and made them prefer his leadership to that of a lying and deceptive PDP administration.
“It is most unfortunate that instead of showing some remorsefulness for the harm done to the nation by his party, and giving genuine support for Buhari’s efforts to salvage and revamp the national economy, Mr. Metuh persists in a vain attempt to remain relevant on the national stage by unjustly denigrating the President who continues to strive with all his might to alleviate and reverse the harm done to the nation by PDP misrule and corruption.
“Metuh’s antics are futile. Buhari cannot be distracted by a broken record. If the PDP spokesman ever has serious matters to bring to our attention, we will be prepared to listen,” the statement further submitted.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had in its statement said it was drawing the attention of Nigerians to what it termed harmful, unabating negative statements by President Muhammadu Buhari, which may have harmful impact on the economy and the general image of the country.
The party said that it had become very worrisome that in the last six months, the President, instead of making efforts to harness resources and grow the economy, had rather wittingly or unwittingly continued to paint negative image of the nation and thus scaring away investors.
It alleged that the President had done this through negative labeling of Nigerians and unwarranted unhealthy portrayal of the nation’s economy.
According to Metuh, the President’s unwary statements have become very serious clog in the wheel of progress, eroding the confidence of both domestic and international investors in the Nigerian economic and social system.
“In the last six months, our President has only succeeded in discouraging foreign investors with his continued misrepresentation of our country as a business unfriendly environment, where most of the citizens are basically corrupt, dishonest, and cannot be trusted.
In apparent reference to the interview granted to newsmen by President Buhari during his recent trip to India in which he spoke about corruption in the land, PDP said the blanket negative labeling of citizens, in a country of millions of honest and hardworking individuals/firms, was not a pleasant commentary.
“Whereas we have restated our total support for the war against corruption, we insist that Mr. President’s unceasing blanket negative labeling of citizens, in a country where millions of honest and hardworking individuals/firms are genuinely contributing daily to the development effort, is indeed a disservice and injurious to the nation and the people.
“Furthermore, Mr. President’s recent announcement to the world that the nation, with its abundant human and natural resources, is broke and cannot pay cabinet ministers not only sends a discouraging signal to the domestic and international business community, but also exposes the ineptitude of the present administration to meaningfully and sincerely exert itself and work with industrious and innovative investors to create and manage wealth.
“We ask; how can any reasonable investor still have the confidence to invest in a country where the President himself continues to alert that his country reeks of corrupt people and that the government is broke to the extent it cannot pay cabinet ministers?
“Is the President not directly advising investors against having confidence in Nigeria and the system, and that they risk not being paid for jobs awarded by government at any level?
Continuing, Metuh asserted that “more worrisome is the fact that Mr. President most times makes his damaging comments in international fora with potential investors in attendance to the extent that reminds one of the proverbial father who, in the presence of potential suitors, often portrays his daughters as wayward and yet constantly complain of their inability to find husbands.
“Indeed, this is not the way to go, Nigeria is a country blessed with abundant human and natural resources. What we need at the moment is a serious, innovative and practical approach with the capacity to harness the resources and create wealth for the benefit of all, instead of an apparently laidback scapegoat tactics with outworn excuses and unhelpful comments.
“May we remind Mr. President that even in the darkest period of our economic challenges, successive administrations made efforts in steadying the economy, while always reassuring our citizens and the international community of the strength and economic potentials of our great nation.
“We know that in the desperation to cover its apparent lack of economic plan, this administration has positioned cabinet ministers, upon inauguration, to concentrate on diversionary blame game on the past PDP administration.
“But even this political deceit cannot combat the unpalatable consequences of Mr. President’s damaging utterances on the image of the nation and its economy.
“Finally, we wish to remind the President and those around him that Nigerians, by the 2015 elections, have committed the fate of the country in his hands for the next four years and are not willing to accept excuses for any economic failures under his watch,” the party said.
On his part, Ekiti state governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, also raised the alarm that Nigeria was grinding to a halt with the current economic situation noting that the statutory allocation from the federation account is dwindling.
Fayose, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Idowu Adelusi, in Ado-Ekiti, said “this month’s statutory allocation is the worst in the history of our state. We got a net allocation of N1.4 billion at state level while the salary of workers is N2.6 billion monthly.
“At the local government level, the 16 council areas got a little over N1 billion, while the wage bill there is over N2 billion monthly,” he further revealed, noting that “payment of salaries at both state and local government levels is impossible with such allocations. And government still have some basic needs to meet.”
Recalling that he once advised the federal government to be opened on the state of the national economy and people frowned at his suggestion, Fayose said “a national newspaper has quoted the President as saying that Nigeria is broke and that it might be difficult to pay ministers that will soon come on board.
“It is vital that the Federal Government tells Nigerians the blueprint it has for the economy. The issue at stake is beyond sheer politics.
“If the trend continues, in the next few months, all the tiers of government may not even be able to pay a month salary to workers if three statutory allocations are combined,” Fayose further asserte
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