The economic damage caused by the 16-year misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is glaring today in the country. The opposition Party’s syndicated and orchestrated rhetoric aside, judging by the proactive policy steps taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, checks show evidence that the country is already on the path of economic recovery. JONATHAN NDA – ISAIAH presents the excepts
Evidently, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in cohort with their cronies, have perfected a syndicated and orchestrated plot to deflect attention from the economic mess it left behind by blaming the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration for the biting economic recession the country experiences. The PDP has even called for the resignation of the president over the state of the economy.
Sadly, a section of Nigerians, led by some notable personalities in the polity, have bought into the deceptive propaganda being championed by the PDP. Obviously, due to the widespread economic hardships, many forget the reality that the prevailing socio-economic hardship being faced by Nigerians is a direct consequence of the mismanagement of the economy and unprecedented looting of the country’s commonwealth perpetrated under previous administrations.
The machinations of voodoo economics, reckless fiscal policies and shocking pillage of the public treasury the country, were the order of the day during past PDP administrations, are all well known. Months back, the immediate-past finance minister and coordinating minister of the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, confessed to what she described as the “zero political will to save” under the immediate-past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Also, in one of the shocking corruption cases, the interim report of an investigations committee set up by PMB to review arms procurement under the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration showed an extra-budgetary spending to the tune of N643.8 billion and an additional spending of about $2.2 billion in foreign currency. Preliminary reports indicate that about $2 billion was disbursed for the procurement of arms to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
The $2.2 billion was fraudulently disbursed by the erstwhile National Security Adviser. Instead of procurement of arms to fight insurgency, startling revelations from anti-graft agencies investigating the case have revealed how the monies were literally shared to political associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan and members of PDP. Meanwhile, our military personnel on the frontlines were ill-equipped and demoralised, resulting in many avoidable deaths and the maiming of our gallant men in uniform.
The looted funds were used to build luxury hotels and other properties. Some of the funds were stashed in farmlands and underground silos. While huge chunks remain in hidden bank accounts and unoccupied buildings. In some cases, domestic helps and aides to the looters helped themselves and made away with the stolen funds which they could easily access in the homes of their principals.
With little savings to fall back to, the PMB’s administration has also faced diminishing revenues from crude oil resulting in the falling value of the Naira.
Expectedly, the country’s recent slide into recession has presented the opposition PDP and its cronies with an open season for ill-motivated and mischievous attack on the APC-led administration on account of the struggling economy. This is sheer opportunism.
In fact, some political actors who lost out in the 2015 national elections have been fingered for the heightened attacks on the country’s oil installations led by the self-styled Niger Delta Avengers (NDA). The attacks have cut revenues from oil exports down to less than $500 million on a monthly basis from a peak of $3.5 billion sometime in 2015, according to official records.
Remarkably, the administration has proactively begun to tackle the attacks on oil facilities and disruption of crude oil production in the Niger Delta region.
But, perhaps, the most disturbing feature of the opposition-coordinated propaganda is the absurd clannish and religious colouration. The President is accused of lopsided appointments in favor of northerners and Muslims. However, the accusation falls flat against the backdrop of the concentration of most key ministerial appointments from the country’s predominantly Christian south. To name a few: transport; power-housing-works; petroleum; employment; solid minerals; trade and investment; employment; finance are all headed by appointees from the southern geopolitical zones.
Contrary to the opposition’s pessimistic narrative on the country’s economic stresses, the strategic measures being put in place by monetary and fiscal authorities have the potential to turn the economy around, such that the economic recession will soon be over.. Investment’s share in gross domestic product is at its highest since 2010. Inflation is slowing; manufacturing confidence is rising. According to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) projections, the Nigerian economy would rebound by the fourth quarter of this year, arising from government’s determined efforts to stimulate and reflate the economy.
“We are already in the valley, the only direction is go up to the hill and government is doing everything possible to move up the hill as quickly as possible,” the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele assured recently.
Under the new flexible foreign exchange policy introduced by the CBN in June 2016, we now have a single market-determined exchange rate which enables suppliers of foreign currencies to bring in their money and take the same out at market-determined rates. The new foreign exchange policy being implemented will ensure our economy recovers in the medium to long term. In a sign of recovery, the liberalisation of the foreign exchange (FX) market has started to pay off. The country has recorded $1billion capital inflow in two months from foreign investors since the market took off almost three months ago, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recent disclosures.
There are proposals within government to partially sell some of the country’s joint venture assets to boost Nigeria’s foreign reserves and reflate the economy through infrastructure projects. Experts project that if the federal government sold between 15 and 20 per cent of its holdings in the oil and gas sector, the country could realize between $30 billion and $40 billion.
The Treasury Single Account (TSA) was a programme that several governments in the past had attempted, but lacked the political will, to fully implement until President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office. Now, through the full implementation of the TSA, all government revenue inflows and disbursements are now effectively monitored. The TSA has plugged revenue leakages. As at March ending, the number of ministries, departments and agencies on single account has risen to 976 since the commencement of the policy on September 15, 2015.
In the past, government agencies lodged monies in bank accounts that did not yield any interests, yet borrowed funds to government at as high as 14 per cent interest.
This is not the case with the TSA as the fund is now domiciled with the CBN.
Massive infrastructure spending
In line with the critical infrastructural focus of the PMB administration, an unprecedented 30 per cent of 2016 budgetary provision has been committed to capital projects. Since the 2016 National Budget was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in May, the Ministry of Finance has released more than 400 billion naira for infrastructure spending — more than the total amount spent in 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s shuttle diplomacy has restored Nigeria’s integrity in the comity of nations. It has also had positive effects on the country’s economic policies and counter-insurgency efforts. In April, PMB’s working visit to China yielded additional investments in Nigeria exceeding $6 billion. As a result, several agreements concluded during the visits are positively impacting on key sectors of the Nigerian economy including power, solid minerals, agriculture, housing and rail transportation.
Since the PMB administration took over the governance of the country, the fight against Boko Haram terrorists have been invigorated with regional and global support and cooperation against the terror group. For instance, the United States has pledged $5 million to the fight against Boko Haram, in addition to other material support. This is in addition to the pledge by the G-7 to strengthen Nigeria’s efforts to quell the insurgency.
Efforts to rebuild the North-East region that have been ravaged by the Boko Haram sect have also received a lot of support from the United Nations and other development partners. Some of the initiatives put in place to address the situation of the North-East include the Safe Schools Initiative, Victims Support Fund and the Presidential Initiative on North-East, among others. Recently, the World Bank set aside $800 million in support of the rebuilding of infrastructure devastated by years of Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast.
14 May, 2016, the United Kingdom announced it has approved £40 million (about N14 billion) to assist Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency. Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, disclosed this in Abuja on arrival for the one day regional security summit. Hammond commended PMB for the efforts his administration had made in degrading the Boko Haram insurgency.
APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on March 24, 2016, stated that; “No question at all that the vigorous and focused leadership provided in the fight against insurgency has yielded results that we all, as a nation, must be proud of. The insurgents have been deprived of the possibility of ever again, holding Nigerian territory and hoisting any of their dastardly flags.”
The fight against corruption remains a top priority for the President Buhari administration. In spite of desperate attempts by some partisans to discredit anti-corruption efforts in some quarters, the war against corruption is being won and has been well-received and supported. The generality of Nigerians agree that the days of impunity are over. “Already we are investigating the theft of several billion dollars in public funds by the previous administration. We are not only bringing these corrupt officials to justice, we are also setting up systems to make it impossible for such a grievous abuse of public trust to happen again” President Muhammadu Buhari stated in his recent article titled, ‘Making Africa Rising a Reality’ published on BloombergView on September 20, 2016.
Again, the new petroleum products supply and pricing framework, which has eliminated corruption-tainted subsidy payments, has greatly solved fuel scarcities by ensuring availability of products at all locations in the country; reduced hoarding, smuggling and diversion substantially and stabilise price at the actual product price; encouraged investments in both refineries and retails; provided government more revenue to address social and infrastructural needs of the country.
The APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has called on Nigerians to support the recently launched National Re-orientation Campaign “Change Begins With Me’’, which he believes will repair our value system that has been badly eroded over the years, and also institutionalize best practices and time-honoured values of honesty, hard work, patriotism, abhorrence of corruption, accountability and integrity in our everyday life. He also called on Nigerians to pray and support the administration as it works assiduously to pull the country out of the present hardships and restore the country on the path growth in all facets.
Odigie-Oyegun stated recently that;”Yes, it is true, these are hard times, but hard times create challenges. Challenges call for men and women in leadership to agree to be united, focused, passionate in the policies that they stand for, which means that we must stand as one behind the success of our president and for the policies that he stands for and for the promises he has made to the Nigerian people.”
According to PMB in his September 20, 2016, Bloomberg speech; “The months ahead will show not only that Nigeria is on the rise, but that this “Rising” is real and lasting — one that touches not just the statistical databases, but the lives of the people who elected us to deliver positive change.”