The Federal Government has cautioned former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other Nigerians to stop distracting President Muhammadu Buhari from focusing on taking developmental initiatives that will improve the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated this yesterday while reacting to a letter written to President Buhari over the performance of his government.
Obasanjo had, on Tuesday, written a 13-page open letter to President Buhari, lamenting the poor performance of his government and advised him not to seek re-election for another fouryear term in 2019.
But, speaking to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mohammed explained that it was unfortunate that the former president may have written the letter without full knowledge of some of the deliberate efforts by the Buhari administration to revamp the economy and improve lives.
“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 hour 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,” he stressed.
The minister said: “We believe that Chief Obasanjo, because of his very busy schedule, may not have been fully availed of developments in government’s efforts to revamp the economy. “For the record, Chief Obasanjo is a patriot and he has proven this time and 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 economy, which is the third of our threepronged campaign promises.”
The minister noted: “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 government’s efforts to revamp the economy, which was battered by the consequences of overdependence 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.”
Listing some of the achievements recorded by the Buhari government, the information minister said: “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. “According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC), headline inflation has fallen for 11 consecutive months, standing at 15.37 per cent as at December 2017.
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). “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 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.”
Mohammed said that 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 per cent.
“These positive indices may not have immediately impacted positively on Nigerians, but Nigerians will definitely get a new lease of life a short while from now. 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 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 644,000 metric tons to 22,000 metric tons in just two years. This is phenomenal,” the minister said. He also noted: “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 U.S., the third in millet after India and our breweries are now enjoying local sourcing of those commodities.
“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.
He said the administration is ready to tackle the herders/farmers’ clashes once and for all. “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.
“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,” he added.