Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Atiku copying Buhari’s economic blueprint- Minister alleges

The Federal Government has accused the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, of copying the already completed projects of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in his Economic Blueprint.

The Federal Government said Atiku’s Economic Blueprint presented in Lagos State last week was an attempt at copying all that the administration of President Buhari has done, especially in the areas of job creation, infrastructure financing, relationship with the private sector, rejuvenation of the power sector, poverty, education, debt management, and the overall management of the economy.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this at a media briefing in Abuja on Thursday.

Mohammed said it was more shocking that “an opposition that has condemned all that this administration has done would turn around to weave its so-called Economic Blueprint around the same things that are currently being done by the same administration.”

The minister added: “The former Vice President said, in his Economic Blueprint, that ‘rebuilding infrastructure and reducing infrastructure deficit will enhance the carrying capacity of the economy and unleash growth and wealth creation’. No one understands this better than this administration.

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“Even our worst critics will agree that our record on infrastructure development is next to none in the history of this country.

“Across the country, we have constructed 8,352.94 kilometres of roads, rehabilitated 7,936.05 kilometres of roads, constructed 299 bridges, maintained 312 bridges, and created 302,039 jobs in the process.

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“We have also delivered houses in 34 states of the Federation under the first phase of the National Housing Project. We were able to achieve these through a combination of budget increase and innovative infrastructure financing methods.

“Whereas we met a budget of N18.132 billion for the roads component of the Federal Ministry of Works when we assumed office in 2015, the budget for the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing increased exponentially to N260.082 billion in 2016, N274.252 billion in 2017, N356.773 billion in 2018, N223.255 billion in 2019, N227.963 billion in 2020 and N241.864 billion in 2021.

“Therefore, for anyone using this as a campaign stunt, without acknowledging what we have done so far, is cheap and disingenuous.”

Mohammed continued: “Alhaji Atiku also spoke on poverty reduction, which he said would be the ‘centrepiece of our economic development agenda’. Could it be that His Excellency has not heard about our National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), the unprecedented programme that is directly and indirectly impacting the lives of poor Nigerians and creating jobs, especially for the youths, through four clusters, namely: the N-Power Programme, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the National Home-Grown School Feeding System (NHGSFP) and the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme.

“From 2016 to date, the NSIP, which has received commendation from many international agencies, has empowered 1 million youths while an additional 500,000 are undergoing various training under the N-Power programme; enrolled 1,632,480 households in the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme and gave productive cash grants of N150,000 each to 4,234 people.

“The NSIP has also stimulated unprecedented enrolments in public primary schools through the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme that is feeding 9.8 million children, while there are 2,424,253 beneficiaries of the GEEP loans under TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni, in addition to a total of 1,142,783 individuals who have registered to benefit from GEEP 2.0 under the three loan products.

“These programmes represent a practical demonstration of the progressive achievement of

the President’s target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030.

“The former Vice President told his audience that if elected, his administration would ‘establish a strong partnership (with the private sector) in investing in infrastructure, creating jobs, income and in the fight against poverty’.

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“Let’s inform His Excellency that the Buhari administration’s ‘warm handshake’ with the private sector has delivered and is delivering an unprecedented number of projects, including the 650,000bpd Dangote Refinery, Dangote Fertilizer plant, Lekki Deep Sea Port, BUA Cement, the 5,000bpd Waltersmith Modular Refinery in Imo State; the 2,500bpd Duport Modular Refinery/Energy Park in Edo State; the 2,000bpd Atlantic Modular Refinery in Bayelsa State; the 12,000bpd Azikel Modular Refinery also in Bayelsa; the five LPG Bottling plants and six LPG depots in 10 northern states and Abuja, the 48,000 L/D base oil production plant in Rivers and the 10,000 Metric Tonnes Per Day methanol production plant in Bayelsa, just to mention a few.

“These refineries and other projects are the result of a ‘warm handshake’ between the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board and private sector actors. The private sector is also involved in the ongoing infrastructure development through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, which I mentioned earlier.”

The minister further stated that Atiku seems to know little or nothing about the Buhari administration’s efforts to make fertilizer available at affordable prices to Nigerian farmers, and how global developments have negatively impacted on the price of fertilizer, for saying “farmers now pay 200 per cent more for a bag of fertilizer – if they see it – than they did in 2020”.

He noted that a number of factors beyond government’s control led to the current situation in which the cost of fertiliser increased to between 110 and 150 per cent.

Mohammed said the factors that led to rise included a three-fold increase in the cost of natural gas, a primary feedstock in fertiliser production and post-COVID-19 shutdowns of key raw materials manufacturing plants.

Other factors identified by the minister were sanctions imposed on Belarus and Russia, occasioned by the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the impact of significant domestic inflation on global and in-country logistics and transportation of fertiliser raw materials.

The minister, however, stated that the government’s efforts led to creating hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs and thousands of direct jobs in the sector.

“This is an unfortunate statement that reflected the total lack of understanding

of the issues at stake. The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), which was flagged-off in Dec 2016 by President Muhammed Buhari, aimed to support the domestic blending of NPK 20:10:10 fertilizer in order to reduce the challenges of the Nigerian farmers,” he said.

Mohammed added that while Nigeria may be facing economic challenges, the former Vice President’s pronouncement that the future of the country’s economy is ‘bleak’ is “sheer scaremongering”.

The minister stressed that the country’s economic outlook “is not bleak”, saying the economy has been resilient, having recovered from two recessions within five years – in 2016 and 2020.

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“The Nigerian economy sustained its recovery from the 2020 recession for the 7th consecutive quarter, growing by 3.54% in real terms in Q2 2022, from 3.11% in Q1 2022. Many sectors recorded positive economic growth, reflecting the effective implementation of policy measures prescribed in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), Annual Budgets, Finance Acts and National Development Plan (NDP),” he added.

Mohammed further stated: “I am not really very surprised that His Excellency the former Vice President only reeled out, in his so-called Economic Blueprint, what we have been doing in the past seven years plus in infrastructure development, infrastructure financing, poverty reduction, power reform, job creation, relationship with the private sector, debt management and the overall management of the economy. That’s what you get from someone who leaves the country after losing an election, only to parachute into town when another election is due.

“It is a measure of how much this administration has achieved in all sectors that the best the opposition could do is to seek to copy what the administration has been doing. Yet, the opposition – in it’s desperation to get power – has continued to deny and derogate the administration’s achievements.

“For the record, there is nothing we have said today on the achievements of this administration that we haven’t said before. No amount of deceit, misrepresentation, scaremongering, distortion of facts or derogation can subtract from the visible achievements of the Buhari administration.

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