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PGF DG Attacks Obasanjo Over Comment On Buhari’s Fresh Loans

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Obasanjo

The Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Lukman has accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of being unable to prioritise capital expenditure during his tenure.

Lukman stated this while reacting to Obasanjo’s criticism of the fresh loan plans of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

Naija News had reported that the former President berated the Buhari-led government for borrowing for recurrent expenditure instead of capital expenditure.

In an interview with Channels TV, Obasanjo added that borrowing and accumulating debt for the next generations to come is criminal and foolish.

Reacting in a statement on Wednesday, Lukman stated that Obasanjo’s criticism of the fresh borrowing plans of the Buhari government was political and insincere.

He, however, asked the former President to tell Nigeria about the specific objective of Nigeria’s debt cancellation in 2004.

The statement reads: “Everything considered, all the indices of Nigeria’s fiscal management between 1999 and 2020, indicates more prudence under the six years of President Buhari than during the eight years of former President Obasanjo, notwithstanding the claims of cancelling Nigerian debts.

“Shouldn’t it have been for development? The resources that were freed from debt services, which component of the Federal Government budget was it used for?

“By the time the analysis is expanded to cover specific issues of projects executed, under the current administration of President Buhari, Nigerians would need help from former President Obasanjo, former President Goodluck, all PDP leaders and their supporters to highlight what specifically they were able to give Nigerians in terms of projects executed in return for their ‘prudent’ management of the national economy during their sixteen years tenure.

“For instance, President Buhari is implementing one of the most ambitious National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) in the country since independence. Under the programme, with the goal of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, millions of poor Nigerians are benefiting from these initiatives.

“One of the components of the programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), N36.9 billion in interest-free loans of between N50,000 to N350,000 has been disbursed to more than 2.3 million Nigerians. Under another component of the Programme Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, 9.9 million primary 1 – 3 pupils in 54,952 public primary schools in 35 states have benefited.

“Additional 107,000 cooks have been engaged. In the case of Conditional Cash Transfer, the third component, more than 3 million poor and vulnerable households have been registered on the National Social Register, out of which more than one million families are currently being paid N5,000 monthly.”

The PFG DG said in spite of the debt cancellation secured by the Obasanjo administration, the current government is more prudent than all the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governments.

He added: “PDP may wish to go beyond the manipulative strategy to rewrite the realities of incomparable achievements of President Buhari led APC government as against all the PDP administrations between 1999 and 2015 by coming out with a clearer empirical account than can present new evidence. Otherwise, the incontrovertible evidence is that APC led government of President Buhari is in fact more prudent than all PDP governments between 1999 and 2015.

“Maybe also, given the bullish disposition of Governor Nyesom Wike of River States in engaging economic policy debates in the country, it is important to stress the point that in addition to the requirement for honesty, PDP leaders should understand and appreciate that when issues of development are reduced to what the English Economist, Kate Raworth referred in the book, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, as the portrait of a person ‘standing alone, money in hand, calculator in hand, and ego in heart’, initiatives of governments can hardly rise above consumption, which was the case throughout the sixteen years of PDP. Because that was the case, even when former President Obasanjo negotiated debt cancellation, rather than resulting in increased capital expenditure significantly, that didn’t happen.”

Ige Olugbenga is a fine-grained journalist. He loves the smell of a good lead and has a penchant for finding out something nobody else knows. Gbenga is an alumnus of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State and The Polytechnic, Ibadan.