Sunday, January 01, 2017

Change Nigerian Economic Policies, PDP, TUC Urge Buhari
January 2, 2017
Nigeria Punch
John Alechenu,   Olusola Fabiyi, Fidelis Soriwei, Ade Adesomoju, Ifeanyi Onuba, Okechukwu Nnodim and Olaleye Aluko

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the Trade Union Congress among other groups, on Sunday, have advised President Muhammadu Buhari to change his economic policies if the nation is to get out of economic downturn soon.

Besides the PDP and the TUC, a Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani; and a former General Secretary, Airlines Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji, Mohammed Tukur, joined others to advise Buhari to take urgent steps to address the hardship in the country.

Others, who reacted to the President’s speech, are elder stateman, Senator Femi Okurounmu; the Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Uche Uwaleke; and Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed.

They spoke while reacting to the President’s New Year speech, where Buhari addressed several issues from how to tackle insecurity, promote agriculture and an appeal to militant groups, especially in the Niger Delta, to embrace dialogue.

Spokesperson for the Ahmed Makarfi’s Caretaker Committee of the PDP, headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, stated this in a statement in Abuja.

He believed that former President Goodluck Jonathan had better economic programmes for the country.

Adeyeye said the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government must scout for competent economic experts to fix the economy.

He said, “We advise the APC-led administration in this year (2017) to urgently employ the services of economic experts to put in place viable policies that will revamp our ailing economy.

“The Federal Government should increase money supply, cause rise in disposable income (spending) and decrease mindless taxation, which have led to high inflation and multiple prices in money market.”

The former minister of state for works stated that the ‘Transformation Agenda’ of the former President brought a lot of hope to the country and its citizens.

He said, “Nigerian economy, before handing over to the APC in May, 2015, was declared the largest and the fastest growing in Africa, which is now nowhere near number 30. Why is that? Incompetence!

“We hope the government of the day changes its policies of high taxation with almost non-economic activity while providing palliatives in 2017 to reduce the effect of the recession and the country will be better for it in the coming years.”

On its part, the TUC urged the Federal Government to stop what it described as the blame game and deliver on its electoral promises to Nigerians.

The President of the TUC, Mr. Bala Kaigama, and the Secretary-General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, who said this, stated that the government must remember that Nigerians voted for it because of the positive change it promised.

The labour leaders said the government should be aware of the fact that its integrity was at stake in the country.

Kaigama and Ozigi called on the Federal Government to ensure a review of the salaries of workers in view of the adverse effect of the devaluation of the naira and other harsh economic policies in 2017.

Okurounmu said Buhari’s speech was full of generalisation, adding that the President had yet to get a grasp of how to tackle the economy.

He said, “Only eternal optimists or greenhorns will put much hope on presidential speeches like the one Buhari gave on New Year Day. This is because presidential talks are supposed to be sweet speeches aimed at achieving nothing.

Our leaders say the most beautiful things but we all know they are lies. There are generalisations that Nigerian leaders before Buhari had also made and they resulted in lies.  Our leaders do not deliver on their speeches.

“Specifically on the economy, it is clear that Buhari has not got the idea of how to tackle the ailing economy. His speech is full of generalisation. Those generalisations cannot get us anywhere.

“We need to be focused on agriculture and there must be an element of what is our target in agriculture.

“What is our target for domestic production? What are our targets for eliminating food importation? We must have specifically stated targets that the government is working towards, not just broad generalisation.”

Okurounmu added, “Look at security in Southern Kaduna, the people are being treated like sub-human beings. The government does nothing to protect them. It is the people who protest that the government goes after. There is massacre and the government is silent. I think the people of Southern Kaduna should learn to defend themselves. They should come together and fight for their rights.”

On his part, Ubani said the failure of the President to speak about the recent violence in Kaduna State was unacceptable.

Ubani, who is a former Chairman of the Ikeja branch of the NBA, said the President did not also try to douse tension fuelled across the country by allegations of inequality and marginalisation levelled against the government.

He added that Buhari was not sufficiently firm about the policy on use of made-in-Nigeria goods.

He said, “I have issues on what he did not say. I am not too happy that my President did not say anything concerning what happened in Kaduna State.

“The sheer number of deaths should have attracted my President’s attention. The President must appreciate the fact that he is being painted in a particular colour, which he must try to contradict by action and by his statements. My president’s silence on Kaduna massacre is not too good for him and for the nation.

“Secondly, his pronouncement on the use of made-in-Nigeria’s goods is not backed by a definitive statement. I would have loved my president to say that from a particular time and date, all his executives shall be using made-in-Nigeria cars, wear made-in-Nigeria clothes and shoes and use made-in-Nigerian furniture.’’

Also, Uwaleke  urged the Federal Government to quickly address the grievances of the Niger Delta militants  to enable the government to generate more revenues from oil.

Uwaleke an Associate Professor of Finance, also called on the government to quickly release funds for contractors it owed in order to stimulate economic activities.

He said, “The current downturn in economic activities is chiefly the result of weak aggregate demand. The various reports by the National Bureau of Statistics on the key drivers of inflation confirm the fact that the present inflationary pressure is not demand-induced but more from cost-push factors such as high cost of electricity, fuel, transportation among others.

“In view of these, I will expect the government to ensure that its spending trickles down to the grass roots. To this end, I advise that local contractors be paid, the N500bn Social Intervention Scheme be fast tracked and effort should be made to fully implement the remaining capital component of the 2016 budget, which has spilled into 2017 fiscal year.”

In his own reaction, the AOON president, said Nigerian airports posed great shame to the country and wondered why the President had not taken drastic measures to address the issue.

Tukur stated, “Talking about the President’s speech, I will like to call his attention to burning issues in the aviation sector. If you look at how long the aviation industry has been in Nigeria, you will marvel.

“I say this because British Airways started coming into this country about 70 years ago. And they (British Airways) can land at the Heathrow Airport in England at zero meter visibility, but in Nigeria today, ordinary harmattan will not allow an aircraft to land even in this 21st century.

“This is a shame that the President and his men need to address. Can you imagine that the President could not travel to Bauchi because of the harmattan haze?

Clear the rot in Presidency, Mohammed tells Buhari

Mohammed said it remained to be seen if Buhari would remain true to his words in 2017.

He explained that it would be interesting to see how the President would put on the garb of a respecter of the rule of law in the fight against corruption like he had promised.

“Let us hope that this time around, Buhari is serious about handling the Secretary to the Government of the Federation because the SGF is one of those he originally brought into government against the express wishes of a vast majority of members and stakeholders in the country and his party.

“Buhari should do the decent thing by sacking him immediately and if he doesn’t have the courage, he should ask him to step aside.

“If he is serious about this fight, he should start from himself because if a fish wants to rot it begins from the head. He should start by looking at the Presidency which he heads. He should clear the Presidency of the mess it has found itself.”

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