•Says ex-president too busy to know good things being done
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Twenty-four hours after former President Olusegun Obasanjo penned an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019, the Federal Government has formally replied him.
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who read a prepared statement to State House Correspondents, at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Buhari, yesterday, said Obasanjo must have been too busy to notice the administration’s efforts at improving an economy that had been battered by over-reliance on oil and unprecedented pillaging of the treasury.
Mohammed commended Obasanjo for giving thumbs-up to the administration’s efforts at fighting corruption and tackling the Boko Haram insurgency.
He also disclosed that the administration has taken the former president’s admonition in good faith, with the belief that he has no other motive beyond the well-being of the country in issuing “such a long statement.”
“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 ‘good Nigerians’ who could help.”
Mohammed said Buhari’s administration is appreciative of Obasanjo’s letter and that it is making steady progress to revamp the economy and the results are already showing.
“Foreign reserves have peaked at $40 billion, the highest level in about four years and up from $24 billion just a year ago, even though when we came in, the price of oil had crashed woefully…. “Our determined implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has stopped the haemorrhaging of the treasury. 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 were almost double the $908 million in the first quarter…he said.
Mohammed continues: “Nigeria rose 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.
“According to Q3 2017 figures, agriculture export is up year-on-year by 25 precent, solid minerals exports are up year-on-year by 78precent, raw materials exports are up 70 precent year-on-year and manufactured goods exports are up 22 precent year-on-year.
“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 N51million!
“These positive indices may not have immediately impacted positively on Nigerians but Nigerians will definitely get a new lease on life a short while from now….
“When we assumed office in 2015, some six million farmers were involved in rice production. Thanks to the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of this administration, we have grown that number to over 12 million farmers. The result is that our rice import from Thailand alone has dropped from 644 metric tonnes to 22,000 MT in just two years. This is phenomenal.
“Apart from rice, Nigeria is also doing well in other grains, especially millet, sorghum and maize. We are now the second largest producer of sorghum after the United States of America, 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. Nigeria leads the world in yam and cassava production. We account for 70 precent of the world’s yam production. In two years, we hope to be the world’s largest exporter of yam! Overall, our ambition is that agriculture should rise from 25 percent to 40 percent of GDP so that we can banish poverty and overcome our economic anxiety.
“Our Social Investment Programme is Nigeria’s most ambitious social welfare programme ever.
“Currently, 5.2 million primary school children in 28,249 schools in 19 states are being fed daily; 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.
“Finally, our investment in infrastructure is simply unprecedented. This is because infrastructure is key to faster economic growth and development.
“Here is a synopsis of what we have done in this area: Power Generation at an all-time high of 7,000mw and all can be transmitted; rail: Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge is on. Lagos-Ibadan sector ready (2019), Kano-Kaduna ready (2019), the entire stretch ready (2021). Negotiations on for Coastal Rail covering 15 cities from Lagos to Calabar.
“Road: 25 major highways being funded with the N100 billio Sukuk Bond, and all geo-political zones are benefitting equally. This Administration is not unaware of the enormity of the challenges facing the nation, but, we are up to the task. We have taken the bull by the horns and long-suffering Nigerians will begin to experience a new lease on life as our efforts yield fruits. We will not go into a state of funk for whatever reason.
“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.
“I will urge Nigerians to have faith in the administration’s ability to resolve the crisis, and to watch out for concrete measures in this regard.
“On whether or not president Buhari should run for another term, it is true that many Nigerians have been calling on the president to run, again, while others are opposed to his return.
“However, we believe this issue is a distraction for the president at this time.
“This is because Mr. President…is committed to fulfilling the mandate given to him by Nigerians in 2015. And that’s where we are right now!”
Obasanjo’s damning letter : South-East senators, IPOB mock Buhari
• What we’ve is ‘Buhari’s country,’ says South East Senate caucus
• Ex-president has vindicated Nnamdi Kanu – Pro-Biafra group
Fred Itua, Abuja and Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Members of the South East Senate Caucus said in Abuja yesterday the scathing remarks of former President Olusegun Obasanjo about President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration are clear vindications of their position on the lopsided nature of the Federal Government.
This is even as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) said the letter to the President by Obasanjo was a clear endorsement of the philosophy of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, of cluelessness and visionless leadership of the Buhari’s administration.
Leader of the caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said it had labeled Nigeria, “Buhari’s country”, following president’s line of appointments.
He disclosed that they had warned against the danger of “the nepotic nature of the administration, but unfortunately many Nigerians looked the other way.
“The government will come to an end one day and with every indication the government has come to end.
“What Obasanjo said is what we have said and predicted long ago.
“To be fair to him (Buhari), the President made himself clear during his visit to the United States of America, with his now unfortunate theory of 95 percent and five percent reward for support.
Abaribe noted that they also said “it could be the style of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). That is to say, that the party may have chosen as a style, to run a government that encourages alienation of a sizeable portion of its people, as well as one that promotes exclusivity.
“Every political party has its style, like the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that adopted its own style of running an inclusive national government, which reflected the true character and national outlook of the Nigerian people.
“PDP’s style was inclusivity not minding the voting pattern of any section of the country or where its support base was derived.
“For any party, there should not be any political barrier or alienation of any constituent part, because after elections the President is the President and father of all Nigerians irrespective of political leaning.
“My hunch is that the appointments so far, which have surreptitiously thrown up the prevailing circumstance, failed to encourage our people’s hunger and quest to build a nation state out of a heterogeneous Nigeria. The appointments as it were, do not also support the effort to weave a more cohesive country that would metamorphose into a nation where unity and love will prevail.
“The founding fathers of our nation had this in mind when the notion of ‘Federal Character’ was inscribed in the constitution and a commission created for that purpose.
“That a President of elder statesman status would willfully breach this fibre that holds this country together is highly regrettable.
“My take is that, ‘it is a Buhari country’, it is the reality, so he can play around with his choice as his mind and conscience direct him. After all he did not win election in the South East and South-South and yet he became President, therefore, the South should be orphaned for not voting for him.”
IPOB on its part said Obasanjo’s statement was a slap on the faces of the Igbo leaders who recently endorsed Buhari for second tenure for their selfish interest against the interest of poor masses and majority of the country.
Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Emma Powerful, said Buhari had nothing to offer apart from alleged ‘misery and premature death’ stressing that those who, out of ignorance opposed the ideology of freedom as espoused by IPOB could see that, “we are visionaries who should be praised not labeled terrorists.
“We support Obasanjo for his timely intervention because at a time of national crisis and with people losing their lives all across the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria, anybody discussing partisan politics under such an atmosphere of mass misery is not fit to be regarded as a human being let alone a leader.
“What Obasanjo said is the clearest endorsement of the philosophy of our leader and prophet of our time Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, that the only way to reign in a dictatorship is by confronting it head on with the truth.
“Obasanjo has spoken the truth and should be applauded for it. Those hungry and insatiable APC yes men that visited Aso Rock to endorse Buhari for 2019 under the banner of Igbo leaders should cover their faces in shame.
“We also commend Chief Ben Nwabueze and Chief Mbazuluike Amaechi who have been speaking in this direction without fear or favour for some time now. They are the real Igbo leaders the world should look up to, not the collection of failures.
“The timing couldn’t have been more apt. It is crystal clear from analysis of Obasanjo’s statement that the new coalition he is calling for is something similar to what IPOB is doing, but on broader all encompassing scale that will include all ethnicities in Nigeria rather than one restricted to Biafra alone.”
Meanwhile, the Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), insisted that Buhari remained the last president of the geographical expression called Nigeria.
Its leader, Uchenna Madu said: “The recent outburst of former president Obasanjo against the president Buhari is very thoughtful and widely accepted by well meaning citizens of the country. Though Obasanjo is right in his castigation and open letter to Buhari, MASSOB and the people of Biafra do not need a soothsayer or a spiritualist to tell us that the days of president Buhari in Aso Rock Villa are numbered.
“Buhari’s system of implementing and executing government’s policies and running of government affairs has opened the eyes and consciousness of the citizens that the foundation of Nigeria is faulty with so much damages that can never be repaired or redeemed again.
“The consciousness of ethnic, religious and regional survival, emancipation and independence have grown eloquently and dipped deeper into the consciousness of the citizens of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.”