*Talk about nepotism, tribalism, corruption, misplaced
*Nationa��s external reserve now $40bn
*World leader in yam and cassava production
By Chesa Chesa
The Federal Government on Wednesday replied the “Buhari-must-go” statement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, declaring that Obasanjo is ignorant of the giant strides made by the Buhari administration.
The response by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, came shortly after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Buhari.
According to Mohammed: a�?We believe that Chief Obasanjo, because of his very busy schedule, may not have been fully availed of developments in the government’s efforts to revamp the economy, which was battered by the consequences of over-dependence on a commodity as well as unprecedented pillaging of the treasury.a�?
Obasanjo had on Tuesday issued a caustic press statement lampooning Buhari for poor performance, nepotism, corruption and inability to stop the Fulani herdsmen killings, among other complaints for which he advised the president not to seek re-election but to join the league of elder statesmen in 2019.
The Information Minister in commending Obasanjo for acknowledging Buhari’s efforts at fighting corruption and insurgency, said that his talk about 2019 election is a distraction.
He said that government took the ex-presidenta��s admonition in good faith, but maintained that President Buhari should be given credit on his achievements as well.
The minister added: a�?Apparently, the former President believes that the administration does not deserve a pass mark in the area of the economy, which is the third of our three-pronged campaign promises.
“We have no doubt that in the face of massive challenges in this area, this administration has availed itself creditably. We believe that Chief Obasanjo, because of his very busy schedule, may not have been fully availed of developments in the government’s efforts to revamp the economy, which was battered by the consequences of over-dependence on a commodity, as well as unprecedented pillaging of the treasury.
“Today, most of the indices by which an economy is measured are looking up. Permit me to say, however, that Nigeria would not have exited recession through a mere order or if the administration had not made use of a�?good Nigeriansa�� who could helpa�?.
Reeling out some of these indices, Mohammed explained that external reserves have moved up to $40billion, from $24 billion just a year ago, adding that a�?according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC), inflation has fallen for 11 consecutive months, standing at 15.37% as at December 2017.
a�?This is the lowest inflation rate since January 2017, and it has met and surpassed the target set for inflation in the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)a�?.
He explained that determined implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the Buhari administration stopped the hemorrhaging of the treasury.
a�?Some N108 billion has been saved from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks, pre-TSA. The nation is being saved N24.7 billion monthly with the full implementation of the TSA.
The elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation N120 billion. At about $1.8 billion, the capital inflows in the second quarter of 2017 almost double the $908 million in the first quarter,a�? he boasted.
He added that Nigeria rose 24 places on the World Banka��s Ease of Doing Business ranking, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.
a�?According to Q3 2017 figures, agriculture export is up year-on-year by 25%, solid minerals exports are up year-on-year by 78%, raw materials exports are up 70% year-on-year and manufactured goods exports are up 22% year-on-year.
a�?Government agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service are reporting highest-ever revenue collection, while JAMB, under the new management appointed by President Buhari in 2016, remitted N7.8 billion to the coffers of the federal government. The total amount remitted by JAMB between 2010 and 2016 was a paltry N51 million!a�? he said.
Insisting that the positive indices may not have immediately impacted on Nigerians, he added that the agricultural sector is recording a bumper harvest which will bring down the cost of foodstuffs.
He said that government’s efforts had reduced rice import from Thailand alone from 644 metric tonnes to 22,000 MT in just two years, adding that “apart from rice, Nigeria is also doing well in other grains, especially millet, sorghum and maize.
a�?We are now the second largest producer of sorghum after the US, the third in millet after India and our breweries are now enjoying local sourcing of those commodities. For maize, we are producing 10 million tonnes while we need about 13 million tonnes for both human and animal nutrition.
a�?Nigeria leads the world in the yam and cassava production. We account for 70% of the world’s yam production. In two years, we hope to be the world’s largest exporter of yam!
a�?Overall, our ambition is that agriculture should rise from 25% to 40% of GDP, so that we can banish poverty and overcome our economic anxiety,a�? he stressed.
On governmenta��s Social Investment Programme, the minister said that currently, 5.2 million primary school children in 28,249 schools in 19 states, are being fed daily, while 200,000 unemployed graduates have enlisted into the N-Power Job Scheme, and a quarter of a million loans already distributed to artisans, traders, and farmers.
He also added that power generation has recorded an all-time high of 7,000mw and all can be transmitted, while 25 major highways are being funded with the N100billion Sukuk Bond, in all the geo-political zones.
“On the herders/farmers’ clashes, this administration is determined to end the crisis resulting from this once and for all, not minding that fact that the clashes predate us.
On whether or not President Buhari should run for another term, Mohammed said that although several Nigerians have been calling on himt to run again, a�?we believe this issue is a distraction for the President at this time.
*Minister barred from distributing Buharia��s campaign caps
Meanwhile, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, was stopped from distributing “Buhari 2019” campaign caps to cabinet members during the FEC meeting.
Shittu, who recently opened a campaign office for Buhari’s 2019 re-election at his home Oyo State, started distributing the caps through FEC secretariat staff before Buhari walked in.
Upon his arrival, the officials quietly retrieved the caps from those who had been given on the instructions of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustpaha.
When asked to explain the motive for his actions, Shittu simply said, “the cap is for politics and not for FEC deliberationsa�?.
He added that at the appropriate time, a�?people who are interested in doing what we have done, will take the decision to support General Buhari in the 2019 electionsa�?.
*Talk about nepotism, tribalism, corruption, misplaced