The presidency in Nigeria has again said it will continue to hold a memory of Goodluck Jonathan administration’s mistakes to guard against repeating them.
It said the mistakes led to a glide of the nation’s economy into recession.
The presidency also enumerated efforts the current administration is making to reflate the nation’s economy that is in recession.
A spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Friday, said that while the government was doing its best to revive the economy, a fiery memory of the past must be kept to ensure that the mistakes of the past were not repeated.
Episodes From Jonathan’s Era
Mr Shehu said: “The future must of necessity be built on the foundations of the past.
“The Conservative Party took power in Britain six years ago from Labour. Check the British press, they are talking about Labour 24/7, is anyone complaining?
“People are still talking about who ran governments in 1865 (and) you want us to forget those who left government last year?”
“To avoid repeating the past mistakes, Nigerians must come to terms with what went wrong with the past, how bad were things, what was done wrongly, what the past government should have done, before we come to what needs to be done to right those wrongs.
“Believe me, episodes from the Jonathan era can fill books, and other possibilities such as courtroom drama thriller”.
One of the mistakes of the past which the presidency said must be avoided was what it called failure to save when crude oil price was high.
Mr Shehu pointed out that Nigeria “solely relied on oil, the price of which was as high as $140 per barrel. Government simply reticulated oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries.
“This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy”.
According to him, the development broke the nation’s economy, reminding Nigerians that “just as they do the broken leg, you must bear the pain of fixing it.
“The current situation was caused by years of mismanagement and corruption”.
On what the current administration is doing to address the economic recession, the spokesman for President Buhari said the government was making efforts to recover stolen funds, reduce cost of governance and increase spending on capital projects.
“Today, the current civilian administration is investigating military finance and accounts which the military could not do to themselves.
“The current administration is sanitising the huge salary bill by eliminating payroll fraud. So far, the federal payroll has been rid of about 40,000 ghost workers. More than eight billion Naira stolen monthly has been saved.
“We are also saving on wasteful expenses like First Class Travel and Private jets for official trips.
“The Federal Government is not limiting the reforms to the centre but forcing State Governments to reform their spending and build savings or investments.
“Government is also increasing spending on capital projects especially on infrastructure needed to make Nigerian businesses competitive and create jobs.
“The administration is at the same time blocking leakages that allowed government revenues to be siphoned into private hands,” the presidency said.
Mr Shehu said that the government was also focusing on key sectors (apart from oil) that could create jobs and generate revenue such as Agriculture, Solid Minerals and Manufacturing.
Economic Policy Of Present Administration
Responding to critics’ comments on the economic policy of the present administration, which they said was unclear, Mr Shehu claimed that “more than any other time before, there is a clear direction and strategy for achieving growth and development.
“Revisionists may not agree, but the truth of the matter is that the previous administration only had one issue, which was how to spend money (oil revenues and borrowed money). As mentioned earlier this spending was focussed on the wrong things and even though the economy seemed to be growing it was not sustainable, it was, as described by Minister Adeosun, a classic “boom and bust” driven solely by the oil price.
“Unemployment was and remained high (never forget the NIS jobs that exploited thousands of desperate graduates in a scam that was used to fund house purchases in high brow areas and claimed so many lives).
“Inequalities were growing (our then President boasted about the highest number of private jets when most Nigerians could barely afford to eat). Terrorism and social unrest were growing. Real development was lacking. As soon as the oil price fell, these vulnerabilities were exposed.
“From its records so far, this administration is trying to reset the Nigerian economy and ensure that it attains its potential and is diverse and resilient. We are doing this at a time when the global economy is in crisis due to the oil price collapse. Even rich nations like Saudi Arabia are experiencing problems
“The Government is people-focussed and wants the economy to grow in a way that will create a more stable future which is not dictated by world oil prices (over which we have no control). No more boom and bust (thanks Minister Adeosun).
“Nigeria wants to take responsibility for its own destiny, therefore our policies will ensure that Nigeria returns to growth in a sustainable manner. No more dependence on oil. Every part of Nigeria has a role to play in contributing to our growth. We will create an environment where people can thrive and where business can grow,” he highlighted.
Re-orientation Of Agencies
Reeling out further strategies of the government to revive the economy, the presidency spokesman said all relevant agencies had been reoriented to focus government’s spending on infrastructure which will create jobs and opportunities for Nigerians across a number of sectors (not just oil), ensure that the nation reduces reliance on oil by developing other revenue streams such as taxes, efficient customs collections and other government revenues and develop key sectors in which we have comparative advantage.
Other strategies he said were to encourage development of agriculture to ensure food security for our huge population, develop petro-chemical industry on the back of the oil industry, develop solid mineral extraction and develop light manufacturing to provide locally made basic needs and reduce importation.
Emphasising the current government’s drive to tackle corruption, Mr Shehu stated that the current pain Nigerians are facing is due to the mismanagement of the past. What Nigeria is currently experiencing was inevitable.
How Past Deceit Caused High Food Price
Part of the pain that Nigerians are feeling is the high cost of food items , a development that the president’s spokesman in his statement said was also caused by past deceit.
“For example, the previous government purchased fertiliser in 2014, worth 65 billion Naira and left the bill unpaid.
“In 2015 the suppliers could not supply fertiliser which resulted in a low harvest, shortages and high food prices.
“This government had to pay off the debt so that the suppliers could begin to supply fertiliser again.
“Across Nigeria a green revolution is occurring as Nigerians are going back to the farms, from rice in Kebbi and Ebonyi to Soya and Sesame in Jigawa and Kano.
“At the same time Nigerians are looking inwards to identify commercial opportunities from agri-businesses,” the statement read.
He further urged Nigerians to endure the pains of the economic recession, saying that “any process that will endure, must involve some pain but things will begin to improve.
“There is always a time lag between policy and effect. That is why the bad effects of past policies are manifesting now, he said assuring Nigerians that the positive impact of the work being undertaken to fix Nigeria’s problems would soon begin to show.
“We will emerge from this period stronger, wiser and more prosperous.
“There is hope for Nigeria, a hope that was previously clouded by corruption, greed and lack of focus.
“Nigeria is starting over and everyone has a role to play. Look back, look ahead,” he added.