The Presidency has appealed to the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Ghali Na’Abba to take a second look at Muhammadu Buhari administration’s achievements in three years, in order for him to change his negative opinions as published in the press.
A statement by the senior special assistant media to the President, Garba Shehu said just in case he hadn’t paid attention late last year, the government published these as including, but not limited to:
Nigeria exited its worst recession in decades. After five quarters of negative growth, the economy bounced back into positive territory. Agriculture was one of the stars of 2017, posting consistent growth levels even throughout the recession. Also, Inflation fell for ten consecutive months during 2017 (February to November).
The Naira stabilised against the dollar, after the Central Bank introduced a new forex window for Investors and Exporters. The stability has attracted billions of dollars in portfolio investments since April 2017.
On the back of a stable Naira and increased investment inflows, Nigeria’s stock market emerged one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 percent.
Nigeria saw bumper food harvests, especially in rice, whose local production continues to rise significantly (States like Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano leading the pack, with Ogun joining at the end of 2017). The price of a 50kg bag of rice – a staple in the country – has fallen by about 50 percent as local production has gone up.
The Federal Government launched a 701 billion Naira Intervention Fund (‘Payment Assurance Programme’) aimed at supporting power generation companies to meet their payment obligations to gas and equipment suppliers, banks and other partners. The impact is being felt, the amount of power being distributed is now currently steady at around 4,000MW and generation now put at 7,000 MW, higher than ever recorded.
The Federal Government began paying pensions to police officers who were granted Presidential pardon in 2000 after serving in the former Biafran Police during the Nigerian Civil War. These officers, and their next of kin, have waited for their pensions for 17 years since the Presidential pardon.
Nigeria rose 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.
Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves grew $40 billion, reaching the highest level since 2014. Nigeria also added, this year, an additional $250m to its Sovereign Wealth Fund. Also, Nigeria’s trade balance crossed over into surplus territory, from a deficit in 2016.
Nigeria successfully issued two Eurobonds (US$4.5bn), a Sukuk Bond (100 billion Naira), a Diaspora Bond (US$300m), and the first Sovereign Climate Bond in Africa, raising billions of dollars for infrastructure spending.
*The Federal Government launched a Tax Amnesty scheme expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues when it closes in March 2018.
*The Federal Government successfully commenced implementation of a Whistleblowing Programme that has so far seen recoveries of tens of millions of dollars.
*The Social Investment Programme – Nigeria’s most ambitious social welfare programme ever – rolled out across dozens of states. (Currently, 5.2 million primary school children in 28,249 schools in 19 states are being fed daily; 200,000 unemployed graduated enlisted into the Npower Job Scheme, and a quarter of a million loans already distributed to artisans, traders, and farmers).
*The number of Nigerians facing food insecurity in the northeast dropped by half, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
*The Nigeria Customs Service recorded its highest-ever revenue collection, crossing the One Trillion Naira (N1,000,000,000) mark. [The target for 2017 was 770 billion Naira (N770,573,730,490); 2016 Collection was just under 900 billion (N898,673,857,431.07)]
*The Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB), under the new management appointed by President Buhari in 2016, remitted 7.8 billion Naira to the coffers of the Federal Government. The total amount remitted by JAMB between 2010 and 2016 was 51 million Naira.
*2017 was also the Year of Nigeria’s Agriculture Revolution, embodied by the successes of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) and the Anchor Borrowers Programme. More than a dozen moribund fertilizer blending plants were revived under the PFI this year.
*Finally, this administration has laid the foundation for a 2018 that will be Nigeria’s Year of Infrastructure. A number of important infrastructure projects, in power, rail and road, are scheduled to come on-stream or inch close to completion next year.
Shehu said he issure that this litany will clear all doubts about Na-Abba’s claim that President Buhari has done nothing for Nigeria, because “even a beetle-eyed critic cannot pretend not to notice the tremendous progress in the area of security and the war against corruption.”
Before President Buhari was elected, Shehu recalled that Nigerians were living on their nerves and the entire country, including Abuja and Na’Abba’s Kano were almost barricaded because of the daily Boko Haram terrorist attacks on innocent people.
“Before the President was sworn into office, “the terrorists were so bold that they could successfully attack the Police Headquarters in Abuja and army barracks in the Northeast”, something he described “as monumental national disgrace of historic scale.”
“With the better equipped more motivated security personnel under President Buhari, the Boko Haram terrorists have been so militarily crippled that they no longer have the capability to take and occupy any Nigerian territory as was the case under the former PDP administration.”
On corruption, the presidential spokesman noted that President Buhari demonstrated extraordinary courage by going after former military chiefs for their involvement in corruption, and that if the President could go after fellow soldiers, what more evidence do we need to prove that the President is bold and sincere in fighting corruption?
“Speaker Na-Abba also claimed that the President has not added added value to democracy in three years .
“The sense we have is that the Honorable speaker was confusing the political environment as had existed in the past, with this period when the President has shown a total commitment to the independence of the two arms of government, namely the Parliament and the Judiciary.
“Reflecting on the atmosphere in which had prevailed before President Buhari came to office, Hon Na’Abba said sometimes back that there “were cogent and verifiable (facts that) there were several constitutional breaches. The budget was not being implemented as well as a lot of other things, which are in public domain…that money was being shared…to sabotage the efforts of the House of Representatives that I led…it was (deleted) who orchestrated the attempt by the ICPC to have my office and the House probed. The person who went to swear the affidavit was a known acolyte of (deleted) and it was not the first time. He did the same to Anyim Pius Anyim.”
“If Speaker Na’Abba will take a moment to ask his colleagues now serving in the Parliament, Speaker Dogara in particular will inform him that nothing of that sort is happening today.”
“The charge that democracy is now being undermined has therefore no basis against President Muhammadu Buhari impeccable democratic credentials,” he said.