The All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday that emerging indices showed that President Muhammadu Buhari was slowly but steadily growing the country’s economy, explaining that it was a matter of time before its impact would start hitting the people.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a related development countered the APC, saying the high rate of unemployment in the country and the 90 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty were the main legacies of the president’s over three and half years in the saddle.
Speaking on the ‘Morning Show’ of Arise TV, a sister broadcast arm of Akelicious, the Director of Strategic Communications of the APC’s presidential campaign, Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN, said Buhari’s administration is turning the focus away from a mono economy to an economy beyond oil.
Quoting a report published a month ago by Akelicious, Keyamo said the non-oil sector grew the country’s GDP by 1.8 per cent.
According to him, “This is the first time in history that the non-oil sector is adding so much to the GDP. That is how we are getting the indices right again. There is a slow but steady focus of the economy to the fundamentals.
“We are not just going to be giving handouts again. For 16 years there was no concentration on non oil sector. For 16 years there was no concentration on the building of critical infrastructures to reflect the economy.
“To put the economy back on the path of growth you have to get the macro economy right, you have to get the critical infrastructure right and rebuild them and the micro economy will begin to fall in place.
“The future of a nation, the growth of an economy doesn’t depend on momentary rise in the price of rice and beans and that is what they are using to deceive Nigerians and the ordinary people.”
When asked to comment on the endemic poverty situation in the country, the APC campaign spokesman said fighting poverty is not like moving it into a room or keeping it in the dustbin.
According to him, fighting poverty requires careful economic planning and execution of critical infrastructural projects that would help alleviate the suffering of the masses.
Keyamo said, for instance, the Mambilla hydro power project he said was abandoned by the PDP administration for over 16 is now about to start this month.
He also said that due to government’s new policy direction, the country has once again restarted local production of fertilizer, which has led to the reduction of its price from N10, 000 to between N6, 000 and N5,000.
He told Arise TV, “First, how do you arrest poverty? First of all, you have to get the macro economy correctly; you have to address the building of critical infrastructures; you have to address the issue of power, so that you can now revive the micro, small and medium scale industry that is one of the major tools around the world to clear out people who are unemployed.
“When artisans, tailors, welders begin to work optimally because there is power you will have a lot of people having jobs so now they are addressing the issue of power because we have raised it from nearly 3,900 megawatts that we found to about 7,000 megawatts.
“Rice import has dropped from 644,000 to 23,000 metric tonnes; about 95 per cent drop in the import of rice alone because of the Anchor Borrowers Program.”
Reacting to speculations that the absence of the wife of the president, Aisha, at the APC rally at Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, was evidence of her lack of support for husband’s re-election bid, Keyamo stated that the president’s wife is set to lead a campaign for the president’s re-election.
He said the president’s wife will soon begin to lead her women support group to canvass support for the re-election of her husband, adding that she is prepared to give 100 per cent in support to her husband.
Keyamo said, “She is just warming up to hit the road, I am sure you have seen the list released this morning; there is a release this morning of a youth and women support group headed by the first lady and that youth and women support group is an expanded group – more expansive than the campaign group, which comprises of people across the country and the wife of the president is just warming up to hit the road. So, just wait and see her level of support. She is 100 per cent ready and 100 percent in support of her husband and you will see her very soon in the next few days.”