Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, had accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of worsening the state of Nigeria’s economy.
Speaking at an interactive Forum, organized by the African Heritage Institution in Enugu, Soludo however acknowledged that the current All Progressives Congress, APC, administration inherited a bad situation.
According to Soludo, the current administration had made the economy several times worse than it met it. Hear him:
“Nigeria is now, some say a fragile state, some say a failed state; it is not going to be a tea-party to come out but unfortuately, we are not taking it serious.
“Nigeria is not just in recession but in a massive economic compression; it will be a miracle for the present APC administration to return this country to the dollar size it met in May 29, 2015, if it stays for 8 years, that’s till 2023.
“It is business as usual; propaganda, lies, double-speak. Current government is fighting corruption, insecurity, but we say to them, enough of the blame gain.
“They inherited a bad situation but they have made it several times worst; getting us out here is not a tea-party like I sad before. Nigerians should rise in unity; it should no longer be ‘let them’; only united citizens can rescue Nigeria out of this position.”
While stressing that Nigeria will only get the leadership it demands, Soludo urged the masses to take the government into account for all the promises made before the election.
Expressing hopes that Nigeria will get better, the Ex-CBN boss recalled that the victors at the last general elections gave the citizenry manifestoes and promised a lot but not many Nigerians have gone back to check how far they have gone in implementing those promises. He said:
“If you check any State run by APC, PDP or APGA, the three parties that have Governors, can you see spot any difference in any of those States that will distinguish one party from another, it is the same.
“APC said in its manifesto that it will restructure Nigeria, that Nigeria was not one, but after the elections, has anybody heard about it (restructuring) again? They control 23 States and the National Assembly, all they need is one more State to get the required 2/3; so they have what it takes, but they are not talking about it again.
“If we don’t rise to hold them by the jugular, Nigeria cannot go anywhere. We have to start preparing for a post-oil economy; insanity is to repeat the same thing over and over again and expect different result.”
Soludo, who also faulted the clamour for Igbo presidency described it as an “unnecessary distracton”, stressing that you could have the President and his Vice, as well as all the ministers come from one village “but the life of all the people in that village will not move from point A to point B.
While justifying his position, he recalled that during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, several members of the economic team, including the finance minister, Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, SGF, all came from the South-East, “but not one motorable federal highway in Igbo land.
“We want a new Nigeria where it does not matter where the president comes from; we want to set a structure where each citizen will work hard, where security is guaranteed.”
He further slammed the Federal Government for unleashing security agencies on various protesters across the country, especially the pro-Biafra groups, insisting that they had every right under the Constitution to express their feelings.
Soludo said “people have right under the Constitution to protest within the law; the duty of the police is to give the protesters protection. Killing innocent citizens simply because they expressed their feelings is wrong; no citizen of Nigeria should be killed for no just cause; we don’t condone violence, but government should protect its people; once you remove freedom of expression, democracy is gone.”
In a dramatic response, the presidency has replied the former Central Bank Governor, saying he is entitled to his opinion.
A statement issued by Special Assistant to acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said Nigerians are working with facts that have shown that the Buhari-led administration is taking Nigeria out of economic recession. It reads:
“Prof Soludo is entitled to his own opinion, and Nigerians entitled to the facts. The opinion he expressed is understandable in a democratic system but the facts are that the challenges of today are a direct result of wrong headed decisions of the past, and quite mind-boggling actions of those who were entrusted with leadership.
“Some of those who served in the recent past have validated this assertion. Nigerians have demonstrated that they know the Buhari administration inherited a sorry state of the economy but is working diligently to fix it with positive results now emerging.
“What even Former CBN Governor Soludo cannot deny is the fact that the Buhari administration has ended the bleeding of the nation and is implementing reforms. The Buhari administration is spending more on infrastructure at a time when resources are lean. When we had abundant revenues what happened was profligacy and plunder.
“What no one can deny is that the Buhari administration is now implementing on behalf of ordinary Nigerians a Social Investment Programme that is unprecedented in Nigeria’s history, paying poorest Nigerians N5000 monthly, feeding school children and engaging hundreds of thousands of unemployed graduates. And there is more to come.”
The Presidency pointed out that the Buhari administration is plugging loopholes in several ways including through the Treasury Single Account, raking in resources that otherwise were hidden and misappropriated and the proper auditing of the Federal payroll discovering about 30,000 ghost workers and saving billions per month.
“Another step in the right direction is the fact that Nigeria no longer has to shell out billions of dollars for JVC cash call, bringing relief from a burden that has slowed down investment in the oil industry. There has even been a marked improvement in PMS availability in the country.
“It is certainly quite curious that very few among us will choose to ignore the new direction but make store of the burdens of past without proper attributions. This appears to me to be selective amnesia to which they are certainly entitled. “
The Presidency said a more patriotic would be for people of goodwill to join several others working with the present administration to offer progressive ideas and join hands with a government and administration that every one knows are led by a President and Vice President who are trustworthy and are people of unabashed honesty, and integrity.