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We’ve done so much with so little, government insists

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Ibadan), Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja), Seye Olumide and Dennis Erezi (Lagos)
28 May 2018   |   4:29 am
The Federal Government has scored itself highly ahead of tomorrow’s Democracy Day....

The Federal Government has scored itself highly ahead of tomorrow’s Democracy Day.

At a media briefing in Lagos, yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the administration recorded the most marks in security, economy, infrastructure and anti-corruption.

“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has achieved a lot in the delivery of dividends of democracy and campaign promises despite the challenges it encountered in the last three years,” he said.

According to the score sheet, the government has taken power generation from the dismal 2,690MW it inherited to 7,000MW and has advanced distributable power to 5,000MW.

It has also moved the country closer to self-sufficiency in rice production, more than any of its predecessors. “We are just two years away from meeting our target production of 6 million metric tonnes of milled rice, meeting Nigeria’s consumption,” Mohammed declared.
Furthermore, the introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA) was said to have drastically reduced leakages in government spending, just as the whistle blower policy was trumpeted as hugely successful.

Legacy format detected for design:

Other achievements are: feeding of 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 schools in 24 states and employment of 87,261 cooks; payment of conditional cash transfers of N5,000 monthly to 297,973 of the poorest and most vulnerable households; delivery of 10 million 50kg bags of fertilizer at a low price of N5,500 in 2017 alone; turnaround of the nation’s infrastructure, including power, roads and rail, due to the spending of N2.7 trillion.

The government noted that the economy is back on the path of growth after the 2016-17 recession, firming up at 1.95 per cent in first quarter of 2018.

“To a large extent, security and normalcy have been restored to the North East. The Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), aimed at combating trans-border crime and the Boko Haram insurgency, has been rejuvenated, among others.”

According to the Federal Government, “These are just a few of the achievements of the Buhari administration in the past three years.

Where many saw challenges, we saw opportunities. Where many saw impossibilities, we saw possibilities. We surmounted every opposition on our path to deliver on our promises to Nigerians.

While naysayers pretended to be blind to our achievements, Nigerians who are being positively impacted by the good works of President Buhari applaud and appreciate our efforts, from the feedback we are getting.
“They know that no government in the history of our country has ever done so much with so little. They know and acknowledge the sincerity, transparency and accountability of the Buhari administration.

They know and support the administration’s diversification effort, which is paying off.

We must be able to own our own future. We are putting our nation on the path of sustainable growth and development, diversifying our economy like never before, tackling corruption at its very core and devising creative measures to secure life and property.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also reechoed the government’s narrative on the economy, highlighting the interventions it put in place.

According to Deputy Governor Bayo Adelabu, four years ago, “it was like heaven wanted to fall, because everything was actually cracking on us; every economic parameter that we could point to as a measure of our economic welfare was declining.”

But “we did not relent, not just at the committee of governors, but also at the management and staff level. Within ourselves, we believed there was nothing like impossibilities in our dictionary.”

At the commissioning of CBN’s diagnostic centre in Ibadan at the weekend, Adelabu said: “We came up with policies, with regulations and ideas.

And three years down the line, is the story not different? Everything reversed.

It is not by coincidence or by accident but hard work, commitment, dedication, passion and belief in ourselves. And by God’s grace, we were able to achieve all these.”

He added: “Our reserve today is doubled from $24 billion to $48 billion within the period of 12 months. Our GDP reversed and we started recording positive growth. All these are the results of hard work and commitment to grow the nation’s economy, as promised by President Buhari.”

But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not impressed.

“How can Nigerians celebrate Democracy Day when the rights of citizens are daily trampled and they no longer enjoy their freedom to politically associate and aspire, as was the order under PDP’s rule?” it asked.

According to the PDP, the Buhari administration “should not come close to the emblem of democracy, as such would be an unpardonable spat on the faces of millions of suppressed Nigerians and the graves of victims of extra-judicial executions under this administration, as catalogued by international bodies including Transparency International (TI), Amnesty International (AI) and even the United States Department of State.

“Instead of celebrating democracy, Nigerians are today groaning in regret for electing an administration that has completely turned against them, engaging in clampdown with utmost impunity, setting aside our constitutional provisions and desecrating all democratic established institutions.”

In a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP asked further: “Where is democracy when our National Assembly, the very bastion of our democracy, is under siege, with federal lawmakers daily blackmailed, hounded, harassed, intimidated, detained and dehumanised, and strange elements invade the hallowed chambers of the Senate, threaten our senators and forcibly cart away the mace, yet nobody has been prosecuted?”

The party concluded Nigerians are looking back “with nostalgia to the 16 years of the PDP, years when government operated with conscience, when democracy was nurtured, and the rights, freedom, happiness and prosperity of all citizens were guaranteed and upheld.”

Nigerians, meanwhile, have been baring their minds on the celebration.

Abuja-based lawyer, Taiwo Aladejana, noted: “We cannot have democracy unless there is absolute separation of powers. Imagine in the budget, the portion of the judiciary is being slashed to the least, while the executive continues to dictate what becomes of the country.

We need autonomy in the judiciary. Separation of powers should be put into perspective before Nigeria can move forward and Nigerians see the dividends of democracy.”

A lecturer at Oduduwa University, Osun State, Mrs. Vivian Onwuka, is unhappy about industrial action in the health sector. “For months now, medical doctors and auxiliary workers have been on strike. Are they (government) deaf? Are they not hearing the cry of the people?

They are. But when members of their families are sick, they take them abroad,” she said.

On his part, Islamic scholar, Abdulrazak Musbaudeen, regretted corruption in the country. He wondered why “agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have not worked,” concluding: “We have been condemned to rulers who do not have the love of the country at heart.”