by Bassey Udo,
The Presidency on Thursday replied the former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Chukwuma Soludo, who accused the Buhari administration of worsening the state of Nigeria’s economy since it took over almost two years ago.
Mr. Soludo said the government had not shown sufficient seriousness in addressing the nation’s terrible economic situation.
Speaking in Enugu on Thursday at an interactive Forum, titled “Big Ideas Podium”, organised by the African Heritage Institution, Mr. Soludo said the present administration had made the economy several times worse than it met it in May 2015.
“Nigeria is now, some say, a fragile state; some say a failed state. It is not going to be a tea-party to come out; but unfortunately, we are not taking it seriously.
“Nigeria is not just in recession, but in a massive economic compression,” the professor of economics was quoted by the online newspaper, Daily Post, as saying.
“It will be a miracle for the present APC administration to return this country to the dollar size it met in May 29, 2015, if it stays for eight years, till 2023.
“They inherited a bad situation, but they have made it several times worse. Getting us out here is not a tea-party. Nigerians should rise in unity. It should no longer be ‘let them.’ Only united citizens can rescue Nigeria out of this position.”
Mr. Soludo later told PREMIUM TIMES the report mostly reflected his remarks at the event.
He said his message was essentially that Nigerians cannot just sit idle in their homes and expect “change” to happen.
“My idea is that of Citizen United; we won’t get the leadership that we deserve; we won’t get the leadership that we want; we will get the leadership that we demand,” he was further quoted as saying.
“They gave us manifestoes, promised a lot and we said ‘yea’; how many have gone back to check how far them are implementing those promises; if any party implements 25 percent of its manifesto, Nigeria will get better.
“If you check any state run by APC, PDP or APGA, the three parties that have governors, can you spot any difference in any of those states that will distinguish one party from another? It is the same.
“APC said in its manifesto that it will restructure Nigeria, that Nigeria was not one, but after election, has anybody heard about it (restructuring) again? They control 23 States and the National Assembly, all they need is one more State to get the required 2/3; so they have what it takes, but they are not talking about it again.
“If we don’t rise to hold them by the jugular, Nigeria cannot go anywhere. We have to start preparing for a post-oil economy; insanity is to repeat the same thing over and over again and expect different result.”
Laolu Akande Responds
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, said in a statement on Thursday that Mr. Soludo had ignored the new direction the government was leading the economy in a manner that suggested “selective amnesia”.
He said the former CBN governor was entitled to his “opinion”, while Nigerians were entitled to “facts” about the economy.
“The opinion he (Soludo) expressed is understandable in a democratic system, but the facts are that the challenges of today are a direct result of wrong-headed decisions of the past, and quite mind-boggling actions of those who were entrusted with leadership,” Mr. Akande, said.
He said it was undeniable that the Buhari government was working hard to change the economy.
“What even Soludo cannot deny is the fact that the Buhari administration has ended the bleeding of the nation and is implementing reforms.
“The Buhari administration is spending more on infrastructure at a time when resources are lean. When we had abundant revenues what happened was profligacy and plunder,” he said.
“What no one can deny is that the Buhari administration is now implementing on behalf of ordinary Nigerians a Social Investment Programme that is unprecedented in Nigeria’s history, paying poorest Nigerians N5,000 monthly, feeding school children and engaging hundreds of thousands of unemployed graduates,” he said.
“Apart from plugging loopholes in several ways, including through the Treasury Single Account, he said the Buhari administration was raking in resources that otherwise were hidden and misappropriated by the previous administrations.”
He said the country was doing better in the oil and gas sector, and had improved fuel product supply.
“The fact that Nigeria no longer has to shell out billions of dollars for joint venture cash calls, was not only a step in the right direction, but one that was bringing relief from a burden that slowed down investments in the oil industry,” he said.
“It is certainly quite curious that very few among us will choose to ignore the new direction, but make store of the burdens of past without proper attributions. This appears to be selective amnesia to which they are certainly entitled.
“What would have been more patriotic is that people of goodwill will join several others working with us in this administration and offer progressive ideas and join hands with a government and administration that everyone knows are led by a President and Vice President who are trustworthy and are people of unabashed honesty, and integrity,” Mr. Akande said.