President Muhammadu Buhari has again confirmed that the country is experiencing monumental economic challenge. According to him, 27 out of 36 states are broke and unable to pay salaries.
This is even as he bemoaned the failure of his government in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers elections.
“I am afraid I did not succeed in the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers. I think that more Nigerians were killed or killed themselves in Rivers than in any particular state. At this stage of our political development, to remain brutal is shameful and as a government, I promise we will do something by the next general election,” he said.
He disclosed that government has recovered N3 trillion by the use of Treasury Single Account (TSA) even as he defended his frequent foreign travels.
“For globe trotting, sometimes, you need to present your case on personal basis to your economic colleagues and neighbours. Nothing is better than personal touch and I believe that we are learning…,” he said.
Buhari spoke at the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) in Abuja, yesterday. At the forum, the first since APC mounted the saddle of leadership last May 29, 11 governor were conspicuously absent, confirming speculations that all was not well with the party. Those who attended were governors of Imo, Sokoto, Jigawa, Benue, Bauchi, Yobe, Zamfara, and Niger. Lagos was represented by the deputy governor.
In his address, Buhari identified security, economy and unemployment and corruption as the fundamental challenges confronting the country. “We campaigned throughout the country on these three fundamental issues and nobody successfully challenged us and these issues remained relevant.”
On security, the President gave his administration a pass mark, noting that the changes carried out by the administration especially the choice of new service chiefs, the procurement of soft and hardware and the boosting of the morale of troops have given the military a new sense of purpose.
“It was a very courageous decision that the party took and executed by removing most of the military hierarchy and appointing those to take over from them, acquiring some new hard and software and raising the moral of the military to go secure the rest of the country which was then 14 out of 774 local government.
“I have said it often that as far as I know and the Service Chiefs who are on ground, (have confirmed) they (Boko Haram) are not holding any local government. But they still have some capability especially on soft target by using technology.
“For Niger Delta, the militants are sending some conflicting messages. Some have said they are ready to drop their arms and join the rest of the nation to build it. But, part of them is still sabotaging installations which is making investments in that lucrative area of Nigeria difficult.
“Nobody will submit his riches to financial institutions, get money only to suffer huge loss. So, the environment for investment is being sabotaged by our own selves, Nigerians. We are doing our best with the military by trying to persuade them to join the rest of the country because in unity lies our strength.”
He described the nation’s sole reliance on oil over the years as a huge mistake. “On the economy, the fall of oil prices after Nigeria has made itself a mono-economy is a disaster. I wonder why people could not believe that in Nigeria, about 27 out of 36 states have difficulty in paying basic salaries of their workers.
“If from 1999 to at least 2003, oil was above 100 dollars per barrel and an export of about two million barrel per day, how come Nigeria failed to make some arrangement to cushion the effect of a probably volatile oil market? Again, it shows failure of the last administration.”
According to him, the APC government was determined to put the economy back on course.
“There is no need complaining, but let us concentrate and see how much we can do with whatever remains of the economy. We realized that agriculture and solid minerals are two areas that can quickly come to help us to recover economically, at least in terms of employment and feeding ourselves and more importantly, saving the hard currency to make sure that what is left of our industries remain open, employing Nigerians and producing goods and services which is very important.
“The policy we are trying to implement is TSA. We insist that we have to know what comes in and what goes out for us to make a comprehensive amendment to the economy. If you go and see the Central Bank Governor, he will tell you that in the TSA, we have more than N3 trillion. Where would this money have been if TSA was not in vogue?
“I was made to understand that vouchers would have quickly been raised towards the end of the financial year and cheques made. Whether they are going into projects or private pockets, nobody can prove it to you.”
Earlier, National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in his address of welcome had appealed to party members to come together and support the President and the party to deliver on its promises to Nigerians.
Meanwhile, scores of journalists were denied from covering the meeting. The media affected were Daily Sun, Telegraph, Guardian, Tribune, Blueprint, The Union, Peoples Daily, Nigerian Pilot, Daily Times, National Mirror, FRCN, Daily Independent, Liberty Radio, Vision FM, Authority Newspapers, among others.
Most of the journalists that stormed the venue as early as 6.30 am were not even allowed beyond 100 meters to the secretariat.
Investigations revealed that the order to bar the journalists came from an Assistant Director of Publicity, Mr. Edegbe Odewingie, employed by the party chairman.
Edegbe had told the barred journalists that the shortlisted journalists got the nod of the leadership of the party and the confirmation of the presidency.
Senator Joseph Waku has tackled Oyegun over his statement that the party may look beyond North Central for a replacement for Lai Mohammed who was appointed minister of information and culture.
Oyegun had reportedly stated that the party was having difficulty getting a replacement from the zone who can do what Mohammed did as its spokesperson.
“I will not call on him to resign but at the convention, he will see the way out.
“So if he is the man of honour and integrity, he should find his way now,” he said. (Daily Sun)