Louis Ibah, Chukwudi Nweje, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, said report by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the economy has slipped into a recession is an indication that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government lacked competence and integrity to run the economy.
The PDP in a statement by Kola Ologbondiyan, charged President Muhammadu Buhari to hands off the economy and allow more competent hands to manage the economy.
The opposition party claimed that would be the only way to save the country’s economy from imminent collapse.
The party noted that “indeed, President Buhari will be the first president, in our history, to score a hat-trick, in plunging his nation into economic recession, both as military and civilian leader.
“The economic recession we face today is a fallout of President Buhari and APC’s restrictive, vindictive and anti-trade policies, bizarre foreign exchange controls and monetary policies that impede growth, an over-bloated public sector that encourages waste and incurable corruption, reckless treasury looting and failure to decisively deal with the escalated insecurity, which has destroyed economic activities in most parts of our country.
“While the Buhari Presidency pretends to be running a free market economy, it is in reality, running a corrupt exclusionist market economy tailored to service the interest of a selfish few while frustrating millions of hard working Nigerians with restrictive policies, lack of access to incentives and support as well as high taxes and levies.
“This has crippled domestic production and competiveness, eroded investors’ confidence and occasioned a dearth in foreign direct investment, leading to the economic contraction we have continued to witness under Buhari’s watch.”
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, also decried Nigeria’s slip into a second recession within five years saying the administration of President Buhari could have averted the crisis if it had heeded wise counsel from experts.
Meanwhile, Atiku spoke as Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) urged President Muhammadu Buhari to cut the cost of governance and implement bold, transparency and accountability measures in response to the economic recession.
In a social media post, the former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said though the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic played a negative role in economic development of the country, the recession could have been avoided if Buhari had cut down on the cost of governance.
“We could have avoided this fate by a disciplined and prudent management of our economy. This could have been avoided had this administration taken heed to the patriotic counsel given by myself and other well-meaning Nigerians on cutting the cost of governance, saving for a rainy day, and avoiding profligate borrowing,” Atiku said.
He said it was not the time to trade blames but to focus on ways to manage the situation and called on Buhari’s government to “swallow its pride, and accept its limitations, so that they can open their minds to ideas, without caring who the messenger is.”
He said with the development, the 2021 budget was no longer feasible as the country had neither has the resources, or the need to implement such a luxury heavy budget. He also proposed that non-essential line items like estacodes, welfare packages, non emergency trips, overseas training and new vehicle purchases be expunged from the proposed 2021 budget.
He said until the economy improves, the focus of the national budget should be essential items like reasonable wages and salaries, infrastructural projects and social services.
He further recommended that the Federal Government should invest in a stimulus package “in the form of monthly cash transfers of 5000 to mitigate the effect of the recession on the poor while taxing luxury items and services used by the rich.”
“The nation is broke, but not broken. However, if we continue to spend lavishly, even when we do not earn commensurately, we would go from being a broke nation to being a broken nation.
“A practical approach to this is to place a 15 per cent tax on all business and first-class tickets sold to and from Nigeria, on all luxury car imports and sales, on all private jets imports and service charges, on all jewellery imports and sales, on all designer products imported, produced or sold in Nigeria, and on all other luxury goods either manufactured or imported into Nigeria, with the exception of goods made for export.
“The proceeds of this tax should be exclusively dedicated to a Poverty Eradication Fund, which must be managed in the same manner as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, or the ecological fund.
“I further propose that a one per cent poverty alleviation tax should be legislated by the national assembly on the profits of every international oil company operating in Nigeria, and international airlines doing business in Nigeria, which should also go towards the proposed Poverty Eradication Fund.
“And above all, Nigeria must stop borrowing for anything other than essential needs. Again, for the avoidance of doubt, borrowing to pay salaries, or to engage in White Elephant projects, is not an essential need.”
SERAP in a letter dated November 21 signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, tasked President Buhari to put the country’s resources at the service of human rights and to support the less well-off to enjoy an adequate standing of living.
“This economic crisis provides an opportunity to prioritise access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic socio-economic rights, and to genuinely recommit to the fight against corruption. The country cannot afford getting back to business as usual. Implementing human rights, transparency and accountability measures would save money, address projected adverse human rights impacts of the recession, and fast-track the economic recovery process. It is not too late to take urgent measures that would put the country’s wealth and resources to work for the common good of all Nigerians.
“Prioritising the human rights of poor and vulnerable Nigerians means providing public goods and services free of charge for those who cannot afford them. This is the time to prioritise poor and vulnerable Nigerians, and to ensure that any response to the recession goes well beyond bailing out large companies and banks.”
The Diaspora Yoruba coalition, Yoruba One Voice (YOV) also blamed politicians for the country’s second wave of recession under President Muhammadu Buhari.
Secretary-General of the group, Sina Okanlomo, in a statement, yesterday, said: “Nigeria cannot make headway under the current unitary structure. The money these politicians are sharing in Abuja is the major reason why they cannot speak the truth on the need to urgently restructure the country in order to save it from implosion.”