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Government condemns call for Buhari’s resignation

By Terhemba Daka, Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja) and Seye Olumide (Lagos)
16 September 2016   |   4:55 am
With these words yesterday, the Federal Government chided the opposition PDP for asking the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to quit office over alleged poor performance.
Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed

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‘’We are on a rescue mission to resuscitate Nigeria after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) left it in a coma and the noise from the same PDP seems designed to sabotage the rescue efforts. But we are not deterred.’’

With these words yesterday, the Federal Government chided the opposition PDP for asking the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to quit office over alleged poor performance.

The call for Buhari’s resignation also elicited criticism from the APC, a former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and a former National Secretary of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Kayode Ajulo.

In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the former ruling party as a shameless irritant which is bent on distracting the government from its rescue mission and returning the country to ‘’Egypt.’’

Mohammed observed that instead of showing remorse and rebuilding itself to a strong opposition party, the PDP has continued to blame the successor Buhari Administration which is left to pack PDP’s mess.

He alleged that what the PDP has consistently put up as a vibrant economy under its watch was nothing but a bubble that was buoyed by massive corruption and chronic incompetence, “an economy in which someone without any known means of earned livelihood would boast of $31.5 million!”

‘’They keep saying we should stop talking of the past, yet the past will not stop rearing its head. How can we forget so soon that our foreign exchange reserves plummeted from $62 billion in 2008 to $30 billion by 2015, at a time when oil prices were at a historic high, reaching a level of $114 per barrel in 2014.

“By comparison, Indonesia, another oil-producing economy with a high population, increased its reserves from $60 billion in 2008 to $120 billion in 2015. The candid truth is that we failed under the successive PDP administrations to save for the rainy day, and we need to constantly remind ourselves of that so that we won’t repeat the mistake. Take the excess crude account which fell from about $9 billion in 2007 to about $2 billion in 2015 as an example. The argument that it was the state governors that depleted the account does not hold water since there were governors in place when the account was being built up,” Mohammed said.

According to him, ‘’Worse still is the fact that up to $14 billion in revenue from Nigerian LNG remains unaccounted for and indeed until the Buhari Administration came to office, state governments never got any allocations from this source of funds which properly belongs to the Federation Account.

“The naked fact on the revenue front is that there was just a failure of leadership. This was compounded by the non-transparent uses of funds.

‘’We are indeed still trying to recover huge sums looted from the national treasury under the PDP’s watch, with $15 billion stolen from the defence sector alone. Perhaps most painful is that because of the way funds (about $322 mllion) returned from Switzerland were mishandled, we now have to accept conditionalities before our stolen assets are even returned to us,’’ he said.

The minister said while the government would continue to welcome constructive criticism, it had nothing to learn from a party that was in charge of the nation’s affairs at a time of plenty, but ended up frittering away the commonwealth.

In a statement, APC said the Buhari administration is employing all legitimate and innovative means to restore the battered economy to health in the quickest possible time.

In their reactions yesterday, Balarabe Musa and Ajulo said rather than heat up the polity “the PDP should provide an alternative government that would bring succor to Nigerians.”

“Instead of the PDP dreaming of a Buhari that would resign, the party should brace up, put its house in order and do the needful,” Musa said.

To Ajulo, although the current socio-economic and political situation in the country warrants such a demand, it is not just realistic that a sitting president in this country would resign of his own volition. “PDP needs not to heat up the polity now. The party should rather provide an alternative government where those in power will fear and dread the governed instead of the present situation where the governed fear the government.”

Meanwhile, Buhari yesterday hinted of his administration’s plan to reduce the 2017 capital allocation to some ministries, significantly less than they received in 2016, while others may get more.

Buhari gave the hint in his address at a ministerial retreat with the theme, “Building Inter-ministerial Synergy for Effective Planning and Budgeting in Nigeria” which held at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja yesterday.

The retreat is expected to come up with a common position on how to achieve improved synergy amongst the various ministries and departments for effective formulation and implementation of the 2017 budget.