•‘Statistics meaningless to hungry Nigerians’
• ‘Only mischief-makers won’t be happy’
• Odigie-Oyegun urges patience on Buhari’s 2019 agenda
From the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came a declaration yesterday that there is nothing to celebrate in the much-publicised exit from economic recession, adding that playing with statistics would not help the economy in any way.
The opposition party cautioned the All Progressives Congress (APC) government against politicising the exit from recession report. The Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, who spoke shortly after inaugurating caretaker committees for Adamawa and Osun states chapters of the party, said that the APC government took Nigeria through its careless policies.
“Has our economic situation improved? You can play around with statistics. Nobody will want his country to be in recession and it’s a matter which affects everybody, irrespective of political inclination. It’s a matter that we must never politicise,” Makarfi said.
On how the country was plunged into recession, the PDP boss said: “The nation did not get into recession under the PDP administration. It nosedived into recession because of the policies that the APC administration came with which frightened foreign investors and led to capital flight.”
Makarfi listed conditions that must emerge before the economy could be described as having improved. “Getting out of recession can be because of one or two indices which may not even have direct bearing on ordinary citizens. But when you look at the figure collectively and holistically, it will indicate that you are out of a problem when you are not really out of a problem. You will be out of a problem when people are able to eat well, people are secure, they find jobs, infrastructure is in good condition and students will not find it difficult to pay common tuitions. All these issues are there and then we say we are out of recession and we are clapping.
“We have nothing to clap for. We have a lot to do. That is what PDP intends to correct when we come to power. But be that as it may, what we can do, even at the moment is to partner those in power to make sure that the condition of every Nigerian, especially the ordinary people, is better. We won’t politicise over that,” Makarfi said.
The PDP, in a separate statement by its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, warned that the economy might go into a worse situation because of what it called weak monetary policies.
The statement reads in part: “At this point, it is imperative to reiterate the warning of the last Monetary Policy Committee (PMC) Meeting to the effect that the nation is at the risk of falling into a more protracted recession if strong and bold monetary and fiscal policies are not activated immediately to sustain our exit from recession.
“This warning is very necessary in the light of the incompetence, lack of economic direction and incoherent economic policies of the Buhari administration which led us into, and then prolonged recession in the first place. It is clear that a continuation of the administration’s incoherent economic policies and its penchant for governance by propaganda will only lead us down a more dangerous path.”
Also, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose faulted the claim that Nigeria is now out of economic recession. “The reality is that Nigerians are suffering and dying, with foods and drugs out of their reach and no amount of economic statistics will make meaning to people who cannot afford to eat once daily.”
Through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said: “Claiming that Nigeria is out of economic recession without any corresponding effect on the living condition of the people is just like they said Boko Haram had been defeated and over 400 people were killed by the insurgents in the last five months.”
Fayose asked: “If Nigeria is indeed out of economic recession, have prices of foodstuffs like rice reduced to N7, 000 per bag that it was when Buhari took over power? Is dollar now N197 to $1? Is petrol now back to N87 per litre that Buhari met it in May 2015? Are Nigerians now feeding comfortably, even if it is once in a day?”
On its part, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) said economic recession would rebound as long as the country continued to rely on proceeds from oil export to remain afloat.
The Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, maintained that unless the authorities diversified the economy, it would continue to suffer reverses.
Ojo made the comments yesterday at a stakeholders’ workshop and advocacy on national renewable energy policy and legal framework for implementation while reacting to the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria was out of economic recession.
With the recent declaration that Nigeria exited recession which has thrown up new debates on the performance of the APC and the possibility of President Muhammadu Buhari contesting for a second term, the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the president is focused on delivering on his electoral promises.
Odigie-Oyegun told journalists in Benin City yesterday: “It is a decision only President Buhari can make and will have to make at the proper time. For now, he still has nearly two years of painful, strenuous reconstruction of the economy and all the other promises he made both on corruption and on security. It is a serious work in progress, at the proper time, he will decide and at the proper time, the APC will decide and the public will know.”
On the threat by the opposition PDP to win power at the centre in 2019, he said: “They are allowed to continue on their dreams, they are just coming out from intensive care unit so they need a lot of nurturing and this is good for their ego.
“You remember what happened recently, because they know that they don’t have anybody of national status in their ranks, they tried to recruit Dangote to become their presidential candidate. Thank God Dangote told them to forget it. So we wish the PDP luck because we need a virile opposition.”
On the agitation for restructuring, Odigie-Oyegun said it had been part of the manifesto of the APC which he noted included the devolution of powers and fiscal federalism.
Thrilled by the exit from recession, the Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, said the administration would always see to the general wellbeing of the country, stressing that only mischief-makers were not happy about the development.
Mohammed spoke at the opening of the fourth Annual Conference of the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) held in Kano yesterday.