We promised change but not in four years, says Fashola
• Insists southwest will get presidency in 2023
• ‘Minister lied about improvement in electricity sector’
• Agbakoba faults Buhari’s campaign document, okays Atiku’s
The All Progressives Congress (APC) promised Nigerians would witness change but never said the agenda would be attained within any time frame, according to Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola.
Fashola made the clarification yesterday at the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 campaign in Ikeja, Lagos State.
“In 2014, we said we would change Nigeria but we did not say we will do it in four years. This election therefore is a choice between going forward to the next level or backward because the work has already begun,” Fashola said.
While explaining the reason Nigerians should vote for Buhari, the minister also denounced the previous Peoples Democratic Party-led government. “Since I became a minister, the president has never interfered in what I do. He has never lobbied me for contract and I can assure you that it is like that with other ministers,” he said, asking: “The oil revenue the former government took advantage of, what did they use it for?”
He continued: “We have watched what happened in 16 years of nothing to show. Some people are trying to rewrite history now. You don’t sack a good employee. If they are living in delusion and say it was good governance, why did they lose the job? In 2017, the budget on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was cut from N30 billion to N10 billion. You know who was presiding (then).
“Buhari has inaugurated an infrastructure development fund to ensure that Lagos-Ibadan, Second Niger Bridge and Abuja to Kano Road would never suffer funding problem again. Just yesterday, the two contractors on the Lagos Ibadan Expressway got a total of N15 billion to continue the work. The same thing is true of the Ikorodu-Sagamu Road. That road, for 16 years, was nothing to write about.”
Fashola urged APC members to shelve their grievances, following the party’s contentious primaries, and work together to win the general election. “I urge you to vote massively for this government because the former government must not come back,” he told supporters.
He also assured the people that the presidency would shift to the southwest, if Buhari wins the polls next year.
But a group, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), thinks Nigerian’s should take Fashola’s words with a pinch of salt. It cited a recent claim by the minister that the electricity sector in the last three years witnessed a major boost, concluding that nothing could be further from the truth.
“We could equally decipher the contradiction in Mr. Fashola’s claim of what was met on ground and successes recorded in his own analysis of general breakdown with the media. In the same report, he claimed that the generation his administration met on ground was 4,000 megawatts which was increased to 7,000 megawatts, while transmission was increased from 5, 000 megawatts to 7,000 megawatts within the same period under review. Now, the question we should ask is how could transmission be 5,000 megawatts when all that was generated was simply 4,000 megawatts? This underscores our belief that the honourable minister was only being clever by half by using fictitious figures to further confuse Nigerians as against the reality of their day to day life experience.”
According to a statement by CACOL’s coordinator of media and publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, on behalf of the organisation’s executive chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, “Whereas, some areas may be enjoying a flurry of power supply for reasons not completely far from prior arrangement or greasing of the palms of electricity distribution officials, the strategic and widespread research conducted clearly shows that greater emphasis has been put on power generation far more than on transmission and distribution, thus wasting much of what was generated.”
Meanwhile, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association Olisa Agbakoba has dismissed claims that the Buhari administration would give Nigerians a better deal. At an ARISE TV morning show yesterday, he said the president’s campaign manual lacked policies to get the nation working.
“It’s a handout. It’s not a political document. It has no conceptual overhang. The one for Atiku is 80 per cent. It’s got the right stuff in it. It needs more work, but it’s a working document. It’s something I can live with. I see nice things there. It’s a conceptual framework that creates micro-economic stability. It’s got all the nice indices in it. On evaluation, it is clear that the economic blueprint unveiled by Atiku addresses national needs than Buhari’s economic plans,” he said.
In a separate interaction with reporters at his office, Agbakoba also stressed the need for restructuring of the nation. Vibrant fiscal, trade and monetary policies must be introduced to boost Nigeria’s economy, he added.