The federal government yesterday fired back at former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his statement discrediting President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he is laboring under a delusion.
According to it, the former Nigerian leader only ended up displaying ignorance of what the Buhari administration has achieved so far.
Obasanjo had in the statement released on Tuesday declared that the Buhari administration had failed abysmally and should therefore give way in 2019 to allow the country move forward.
While canvassing for a third force to be named Coalition for Nigeria (CN), the former president who sought for a third term for himself in 2007 also took a swipe at the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), describing the two major political parties in the country as extreme evils.
But hitting back at Obasanjo yesterday, the federal government noted that the advise the former president gave to Buhari as well as the allegations he raised were simply out of point.
Specifically, it said Obasanjo’s vituperations portrayed the former president as one who is out of tune with the current realities in the country.
In a statement read at a special press briefing by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the federal government dismissed talks about 2019 presidential race to which Obasajo also alluded as a distraction.
Mohammed argued that President Buhari was not oblivious of the myriad of challenges confronting the country and would rather face them headlong than pay attention to baseless allegations.
The minister said, “We have read the press statement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the State of the Nation. For the record, Chief Obasanjo is a patriot, and he has proven this time and time again.
“We appreciate what he said concerning the Administration’s performance in two out of the three key issues that formed the plank of its campaign: Fighting corruption and tackling insurgency. Specifically, the former President said President Buhari must be given credit for his achievement so far in these two areas. We thank him for this.
“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”.
The federal government observed that Obasanjo might have been too busy that he does pay attention to way the Buhari administration is revamping the country’s economy.
Mohammed stated: “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.
“This Administration is making steady progress in its determined effort to revamp the economy, and the results are showing: Foreign Reserves have peaked at $40b, 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.
“According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC), headline inflation has fallen for 11 consecutive months, standing at 15.37% as at Dec. 2017. This is the lowest inflation rate since Jan 2017, and it has met and surpassed the target set for inflation in the Administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Still on the economy, the government’s spokesman continued: “Our determined implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has stopped the hemorrhaging of the treasury. Some 108 billion Naira has been saved from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks, pre-TSA. The nation is being saved 24.7 billion Naira monthly with the full implementation of the TSA.
“The elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation 120 billion Naira At about 1.8 billion dollars, the capital inflows in the second quarter of 2017 were almost double the $908 million in the first quarter. In the wake 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 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%, 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.
“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”.
Mohammed went on to explain why the positive economic indices may not have immediately impacted positively on Nigerians, adding that Nigerians will definitely get a new lease of life a short while from now.
He said, “This is because the good news from the agricultural sector, which is recording a bumper harvest, will bring down the cost of foodstuffs, especially such staple as rice, and our massive Social Investment Programme will ease the pain of the most vulnerable in the society.
“When we assumed office in 2015, some 6 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 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 tons while we need about 13 million tons for both human and animal nutrition. 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! 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.
“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”.
The minister also noted that, while the Buhari administration is aware of the enormity of the challenges facing the nation, it is up to the task.
“We have taken the bull by the horns, and long-suffering Nigerians will begin to experience a new lease of life as our efforts yield fruits. We will not go into a state of funk for whatever reason”, he said.
On the herders/farmers’ clashes, which Obasanjo relied on in accusing Buhari of nepotism, Mohammed said, “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 seek reelection, he said, “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 spends every waking hours tackling the enormous challenges facing the nation, most of which were bequeathed to his Administration by successive past Administrations. He is committed to fulfilling the mandate given to him by Nigerians in 2015. And that’s where we are right now!
“Finally, we have no reason to believe that former President Obasanjo has any motive beyond the well-being of the nation in issuing his Special Press Statement. We have also taken his admonition in good faith, and we thank him most sincerely for taking time off his busy schedule to pen such a long statement.”
Meanwhile, attempt by the Minster of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, to distribute Buhari’s 2019 campaign materials at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday was halted.
The minister who recently announced himself as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Muhammadu Buhari/ Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group to drive the re-election campaign of the president wore a campaign’s peak cap with Buhari’s image.
He carried a big bag ‘Ghana must go’ containing more of the campaign memorabilia, ostensibly meant to be distributed to cabinet members.
But it was learnt that the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, ordered that they must not be distributed, as it was not yet time for campaign. Some of those that were already given out were subsequently retrieved.
Speaking to State House correspondents after FEC meeting, Shittu explained that the materials were not meant for the FEC members.
He said, “The cap is for politics, it is not for Federal Executive Council deliberations and the caps have been distributed to all members of FEC. So, it is sample for any other person who is interested in doing what we have done.
“I know everybody will be involved, everybody will be guided, people will take decision to support General Buhari in the 2019 elections”.
Stop Playing God, Abdullahi Adamu Tells Ex-president
Also, chairman of the Northern Senators Forum and former governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, yesterday asked former President Olusegun Obasanjo to stop playing God by blaming President Muhammadu Buhari for insecurity in the country.
Adamu advised Obasanjo to exercise restraint because he (Obasanjo) could not boast of successfully solving all security concerns during his eight-year period as president.
The former governor stated this while addressing a press conference in reaction to recent herdsmen attacks in Benue State.
He also noted that people of Benue State can’t in their anger blame President Buhari for the activities of Fulani herdsmen because the herdsmen have a long history of destroying communities long before Buhari became president.
Adamu described as disingenuous Obasanjo’s claim that the federal government Under Buhari has been tardy in its response to the attacks because the president, being a Fulani, is protecting his tribesmen.
Adamu who said he would rather take his time to study the statement by Obasanjo warned the former president not to over stretch his luck.
He said, “The former President enjoys making himself a recurrent decimal in Nigeria’s political space. But on the issue of insecurity, what you will ask is whether there were no security issues during his time and I wonder if he was able to solve all the security issues during his eight years as president and whether he left the country without security issues when he asked for a third term and did not get.
“I would have loved not to say anything about Obasanjo because it appears there is a deliberate plan on his part to make himself a recurrent decimal in the Nigerian political space.
“I concede to his right to share an opinion; it is enshrined in the constitution. I cannot and will not advice anybody to deny him of his right. Having said that, I want to crave to address the issues he raised later when I speak to the press about it. I will address the issues he raised words for words. I will identify the possible points, reasonable points and whatever he has done to hit below the belt.
“We will respond to that, but sometimes it is good to behave like a dry sponge. When you put it in water, you let it soak and you will appreciate its full size until you will be able to handle it. So, I will allow the issue of Obasanjo’s comments go that way for now, but one has to caution that he should not take his luck too far”.
APC Replies Obasanjo, Says It Remains Best Option For Nigerians
Meanwhile, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday reacted to the statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his assessment on the party and President Muhammadu Buhari.
National publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, in a statement issued in Abuja said, while APC disagrees with the former president’s position, it however acknowledges the issues he has raised, stating that APC remains Nigeria’s best option.
He said, “While we do not agree with everything the former president said, especially on his assessment of the government and our party, we note the sundry issues raised by the former president, and we assume these were made in good faith.
“As a father of the nation, we understand that the former president would feel obliged to intervene if certain things are not being done or are not being done in a particular way. However, we believe that such interventions should be for the sole purpose of improving the system and encouraging the relevant institutions to work harder in improving certain situations.
“It is for this reason that we disagree with the former president in what appears like a wholesale dismissal of the entire political system in the country. We acknowledge our challenges as a new political party, even as we believe that APC remains the best option at this time for all Nigerians who are genuinely committed to the progress and development of the country.
“We also note that there are about 72 (sic) other registered political parties in the country and the people reserve the right to support any of these. Our democracy itself is young and hence all the parties face sundry challenges, but we have made progress since 1999, with President Obasanjo himself being a major contributor to our progress as a multi-party democracy.
“It is for this reason that we believe the respected former president should not give the impression that none of the political parties in the country is good enough for Nigerians and the only solution to the current challenges that we face is a completely new arrangement”.
The party continued: “The task of building a political party is not done overnight. Even the oldest of our political parties is still very young in comparison with advanced democracies. Our democracy therefore stands a better chance of becoming really strong if we allow the parties to find their identities, even if in the process they make mistakes and appear to be “wobbling”. No political party arrives fully formed.
“APC calls on all our supporters across the country to remain strong and steadfast. These are challenging times. But we cannot afford to react to public criticism with any form of emotionalism. We are the ruling party. We must take responsibility. Take valuable lessons on board and continue to improve. Regardless of the current challenges, we are confident that brighter future is assured for our party and our country”.
We Didn’t Procure Judgment From S/Court, PDP Tells Obasanjo
In the same vein, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said it did not procure judgment from the Supreme Court as claimed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his letter advising President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.
The party which also said it represents the true coalition of Nigerians from across the country, added that its experience in governance and successful rebound from challenges has provided it an edge over every other existing or intended political platforms in Nigeria.
PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said Obasanjo’s claim on procurement of judgement amounted to an ill-intended attempt to impugn on the integrity of the Supreme Court, particularly when such a claim is false and not predicated on any empirical proof.
The party said that the ruling of the Supreme Court, which ended the protracted internal feud within its fold, rather than detract, reinforced the confidence of Nigerians in the PDP as the platform that truly embodies the resilience of a genuine democratic process in the face of daunting challenges.
It further said that even the worst critics of PDP concede that the judgment of the Supreme Court was unprejudiced, uninfluenced and determined completely on merit, for which it was applauded in Nigeria and across the world.
The party stated: “Also, the conduct of our December 2017 elective National Convention in a transparent, free and fair manner and where nobody was ‘kingmaker,’ denotes the democratic credential of the repositioned PDP to deliver credible primaries that would yield a presidential candidate Nigerians desire”.
Stressing that there is an extensive dissimilarity between it and the APC, the PDP noted that while it remains nationally populist and development-driven, “the APC by orientation and composure is arrogant, inept and anti-people, hence the nationwide detestation against it.”
Disregard Obasanjo’s Letter, Reps North West Caucus Tells Nigerians
Also, the leader of the North West caucus in the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, has said former President Olusegun Obasanjo lacks the moral credibility to advice President Muhammadu Buhari against seeking re-election in 2019.
Doguwa who was reacting to Obasanjo’s letter to President Buhari on Tuesday described the former president as a corrupt person who, after failing to institute third term agenda, always tried to foist himself on the nation.
Doguwa who is also the chief whip of the House said, “The former president who was used to engaging in very unreasonable political comments should know that he cannot in any way be a stumbling block against the popular desire of Nigerians to give President Muhammadu Buhari a second term to rule this great nation, which unfortunately was put to a state of economic and political quagmire by the likes of Obasanjo and his cohorts.
“It is also pertinent to note that, the former president lacks the moral and political credibility to even speak in the way he is doing on the political affairs of our country. After all a man who was involved in all sorts of corruption issues in his administration and indeed his unpopular bid to violet our respected constitution by wanting to take a third term is not in any way a credible democratic voice to count on”.
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