Nigeria: Recession - PDP, Atiku Slam Govt Over Handling of Economy

23 November 2020

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, to accept responsibility for the state of the economy which last week slid back into recession.

In fact, Atiku said Nigeria could have averted sliding into a recession had President Muhammadu Buhari listened to his counsel.

PDP in a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the report by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, that the economy has fallen into another recession under the APC confirmed its stand that the Buhari presidency and the APC lacked the competence and integrity to run a national economy.

The statement read: "The report shows that the Buhari administration and the APC have been lying to Nigerians with false performance claims when they know that they have, in a space of five years, wrecked and plundered our economy, which was rated as one of the fastest growing economies of the world, when they took over from PDP.

"The economic recession we face today is a fallout of President Buhari and APC's restrictive, vindictive and anti-trade policies, bizarre foreign exchange controls and monetary policies that impede growth, an over-bloated public sector that encourages waste and incurable corruption, reckless treasury looting and failure to decisively deal with the escalated insecurity, which has destroyed economic activities in most parts of our country.

"While the Buhari Presidency pretends to be running a free market economy, it is in reality, running a corrupt exclusionist market economy tailored to service the interest of a selfish few while frustrating millions of hardworking Nigerians with restrictive policies, lack of access to incentives and support as well as high taxes and levies.

"This has crippled domestic production and competitiveness, eroded investors' confidence and occasioned a dearth in foreign direct investment, leading to the economic contraction we have continued to witness under Buhari's watch.

"Over 60 million hard working Nigerians have been rendered redundant by the harsh economic policies, including cumbersome protocols and high taxes foisted by the APC administration.

"The failure by the Buhari administration to heed to demands by Nigerians to rejig our security architecture has also worsened the level of insecurity in many parts of our country leading to the closure of millions of businesses, with over 30 million of our farmers abandoning their farmlands, while commercial activities on our trade corridors have been destroyed.

"Besides, our party had cautioned against the increase in fuel price, which has impacted negatively on the disposable incomes of Nigerians. We, however, insist that poor management and not the high cost of crude oil in the international market is responsible for high costs of domestic price of fuel.

"This is because, in its laziness, the Buhari administration failed to put structures in place to boost domestic competiveness for favourable market forces-induced pricing before the so called deregulation of the oil sector.

"Also, we note the negative impact of the closure of our borders by the Buhari administration, without encouraging local production, just to create an impression of food sufficiency, when it knows that it has not achieved any improvement in food production.

"If the Buhari Presidency had listened to wise counsel by well-meaning Nigerians, including our party to end its corruption, lift its restrictive polices, reduce taxes and state imposed prices, and get more competent hands to tackle insecurity, our nation would not be in this dire strait.

"Moreover, if the over N14 trillion oil money as well as the billions of naira stolen in the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, by APC leaders are recovered and injected into our economy, our nation would not be in such bad shape."

On his part, the former vice president said Nigeria could have averted sliding into a recession had President Muhammadu Buhari listened to his counsel.

Nigeria officially entered into its worst economic recession in 33 years after the nation recorded a GDP contraction of 3.62 percent in the third quarter of 2020.

Commenting on the development in a social media post yesterday, Atiku said the recession could have been avoided if Buhari had cut down on the cost of governance as advised.

He noted that though the COVID-19 pandemic played a negative role in economic development, "we could have avoided this fate by a disciplined and prudent management of our economy.

"This could have been avoided had this administration taken heed to the patriotic counsel given by myself and other well-meaning Nigerians on cutting the cost of governance, saving for a rainy day, and avoiding profligate borrowing."

He said further that now is not the time to trade blames but to focus on ways to manage the situation and called on Buhari's government to "swallow its pride, and accept its limitations, so that they can open their minds to ideas, without caring who the messenger is".

Atiku proposed that non-essential line items like estacodes, welfare packages, and new vehicle purchases be expunged from the proposed 2021 budget.

He recommended that the Federal Government should invest in a stimulus package "in the form of monthly cash transfers of N5000" to mitigate the effect of the recession on the poor while taxing luxury items and services used by the rich.

"The nation is broke, but not broken. However, if we continue to spend lavishly, even when we do not earn commensurately, we would go from being a broke nation to being a broken nation.

"A practical approach to this is to place a 15% tax on all business and first-class tickets sold to and from Nigeria, on all luxury car imports and sales, on all private jet imports and service charges, on all jewellery imports and sales, on all designer products imported, produced or sold in Nigeria, and on all other luxury goods either manufactured or imported into Nigeria, with the exception of goods made for export," he said.

"The proceeds of this tax should be exclusively dedicated to a Poverty Eradication Fund, which must be managed in the same manner as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, or the Ecological Fund.

"I further propose that a 1% poverty alleviation tax should be legislated by the national assembly on the profits of every international oil company operating in Nigeria, and international airlines doing business in Nigeria, which should also go towards the proposed Poverty Eradication Fund.

"And above all, Nigeria must stop borrowing for anything other than essential needs. Again, for the avoidance of doubt, borrowing to pay salaries, or to engage in White Elephant projects, is not an essential need.

"This is particularly important as we need cash at hand because the world and our economic and development partners are also focused on helping their home economies overcome the effects of COVID-19. We must be our own saviours," he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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