* APC: We are confident of brighter future
Barely 24 hours after former President Olusegun Obasanjo lampooned President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration advising him not to seek reelection in 2019, the Federal Government on Wednesday, downplayed his accusation of poor performance, saying that he is too busy to notice the achievements of the All Progressives Congress (APC)- led Federal Government.
The development came just as the APC admitted that Obasanjo’s letter was a personal “clarion call to a brother.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this while replying to Obasanjo’s letter in a statement made available on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said, “We have read the press statement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the State of the Nation. For the records, 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. 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”.
According to Mohammed, the federal government is making steady progress to revamp the economy despite the challenges it met on ground at inception. He further maintained that most of the indices by which an economy is measured are locked and 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.
The minister also cited another achievement regarding the foreign reserves, saying that the foreign reserves have peaked at $40billion, the highest level in about four years, and up from $24billion just a year ago, even though the price of oil had crashed woefully.
He said: “According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), headline inflation has fallen for 11 consecutive months, standing at 15.37% as at December 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)”.
Mohammed also informed Obasanjo about the achievement of the federal government over the implementation of the Single Treasury Account (TSA), saying that the measure has redefined accountability and good governance.
He added that the stoppage of further depletion of the treasury through fraudulent accounting means and the saving of N108billion from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks are some of the inherent benefits realized from the introduction of TSA. According to him, there is also another N24 .7 billion saved monthly in the TSA.
Mohammed also identified the elimination of ghost workers which has saved the nation about N120 billion, saying that the capital inflows in the second quarter of 2017 at $1.8 billion were almost double to the $908 million in the first quarter.
The Daily Times recalls that Obasanjo had on Tuesday advised Buhari not to re-contest the 2019 presidential election on the grounds of poor performance and advised him to proceed on retirement after expiration of his first term in office.
Meanwhile, the APC has stated that the former president made his observations in good faith, saying , however, that as a father, Obasanjo would have obliged to intervene if things were going wrong.
The party stated this while reacting to Obasanjo’s statement against Buhari and the APC-led federal government.
Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC said: “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 the 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 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 APC noted that the task of building a political party is not done overnight as the oldest political party in the country is still very young comparing with advanced democracies, stating that democracy 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” as no political party arrives fully formed.
The APC also called on all its supporters across the country to remain strong and steadfast, saying that: “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.
Tom Okpe, Abuja