By Rotimi Ijikanmi
Nigeria’s information and culture minister Lai Mohammed has said President Muhammadu Buhari was on a “rescue mission’’ and government would not be deterred from achieving the mission.
He was reacting to the call by the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the Buhari to resign because of inability to manage the economy.
The party had also asked the President to return the economy back to the situation it was before May 29, 2015 when Buhari took over.
President Buhari of All Progressives Congress (APC) ousted former President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP in the 2015 presidential election
The minister said on Thursday in Abuja that the call for the President’s resignation was irritating and a distraction.
The minister gave the assurance that the government will not be deterred by such calls.
“We are on a rescue mission to resuscitate Nigeria after the PDP left it in a coma, and the noise from the same PDP seems designed to sabotage the rescue efforts. But we are not deterred.
“While the PDP was emasculating Nigeria on all fronts, including social, economic and political, the rapacious party was deceiving Nigerians by giving them the illusion of growth and prosperity.
“Instead of showing remorse and rebuilding itself to a strong opposition party, the PDP has continued to blame the successor Buhari administration which is left to pack their mess.’’
He alleged that PDP undertakers have continued to engage in a blame game, when they should be hiding from the shame they brought upon themselves and the nation.
Mohammed said government could not stop talking about the past maladministration of the PDP because of its dire effects on the economy and the need to prevent reoccurrence.
“The candid truth is that we failed under the successive PDP administrations to save for the rainy day, and we need to constantly remind ourselves of that so that we won’t repeat the mistake,’’ he said.
The minister said that the government was still trying to recover huge sums looted from the national treasury under the PDP’s watch, with 15 billion dollars stolen from the defence sector alone.
He noted that because of the way funds (about 322 million dollars) returned from Switzerland were mishandled government had to accept certain conditions before the stolen fund could be remitted.
Mohammed faulted the purported claim by the PDP that it reduced the nation’s national debt.
“At the time that we were earning such large revenues from oil, we only managed to double our external debt from 5.6 billion dollar to 10.7 billion dollar between 2011 and 2015.
“The case of domestic debt was even worse, almost tripling from N888 billion to N2.1 trillion in the same period.
“Even these figures mask the extent of unpaid obligations to contractors and the huge plethora of uncompleted projects on which money continued to be spent without visible results.’’
He said that payments to contractors stopped several years ago while not a single dollar was contributed to the Joint Venture activities.
“Over N4.5 trillion was spent on fuel subsidy in just two years under the PDP,” he said.
The Minister said that the government will continue to welcome constructive criticism from well meaning Nigerians.