There is still high rate of poverty in Nigeria despite government’s effort in pulling the country out of recession, the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adam Oshiomhole, has said.
Mr Oshiomhole said this at the Maiden Presidential Policy Roundtable Retreat held at the Aso Rock in Abuja on Wednesday.
He was reviewing the progress made by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government under the party in achieving its campaign promises to Nigerians.
His position did not completely align with that of President Buhari who spoke earlier at the event.
Newsmen reported how in his remarks, Mr Buhari, who hosted the APC senior officials explained how Nigeria under his leadership was pulled out of economic recession.
“Through various monetary and fiscal measures, we restored economic growth, curbed inflation and shored up our external reserves,” Mr Buhari said in his welcome address. “We have witnessed eight quarters of consistent marginal growth of the economy over the past two and a half years.”
But the party leader said though the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) helped the country out of recession, “within a short space”, the rate of economic growth is still far less than the rate of population growth.
“Unfortunately, if our economic growth rate is still lower than the rate of population growth, poverty would remain endemic.”
He also alluded to challenges in inequality and access to credit and mortgage.
“We don’t just want to grow the economy and create more wealth; we are also interested in who is benefiting from this wealth and what policy instruments are required to ensure that inequality is addressed and that the average Nigerian people particularly the mass that constitutes the electorate benefit from the fruit of growth.
“This will require a review of access to credit and access to mortgage, unemployment, low level of manufacturing and the need for diversification of the economy.
“In addition, there is the need to increase our revenue, block leakages and ensure that our budget delivers services to the citizens.”
Mr Oshiomhole criticised the banking system for not making access to credit facilities easy during a time of recession.
“The banking system is not delivering to the ordinary people. Access to credit remains a major issue.
“Let me share my own ignorance, I am unable to understand for example as a worker why in Europe when they are in economic recession they reduce their interest rate, in Nigeria when we are in recession, we increase our interest rate.
“How do we price money at such level and expect that the ordinary people can borrow to set up businesses? We do need practical solutions beyond theories. We need to re-examine our condition with what we saw different from what we see elsewhere in the world.”
Apart from economy, Mr Oshiomole also reviewed how the party fared in two other of its major campaign promises – security and corruption.
He said though progress was made, “key issues haven’t really changed”.
“Our campaign issue has always centered on three key issues which in some ways summarised the Nigerian condition.”
He said Nigerians voted for the party based on the campaign.
“Four years later, in line with our constitution, we went back to the people and we renewed the campaign and reminded Nigerians that the key issues haven’t really changed.
“They remain relevant now as they were in 2015 in spite of the huge progress that have been made on all the three issues namely: economy, security and anti-corruption.”
On security, the party leader said the Boko Haram terrorist group was ‘effectively degraded’.
“They are no longer in a position to hoist flag in any part of Nigeria as was the case before 2015 when were forced as a nation to postpone national elections because these terrorists effectively were controlling as many as 28 local governments in about three states in the North-east.
“Right now they are still there but they resorted more to soft targets and they no longer able to hold the country to ransom.”
The military succeeded in limiting the insurgents to three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. They hitherto operated across Northern Nigeria including in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
But despite government’s continued claim of decimating the deadly sect, Boko Haram is still able to carry out attacks on the military and civilians in the three states where it currently operates.
Hundreds of soldiers have been killed since Boko Haram began focusing on military bases in July 2018, casualties that included senior officers and commanders.
On corruption, Mr Oshiomhole said a large number of recovered loots were recorded so far under the Buhari administration.
“We have recovered a lot of loots and Nigerians are aware that billions of naira and dollars have been recovered and there are judicial pronouncements confirming that these were looted funds as evident by the facts that various courts have ordered the forfeiture of these sums to the federal government and to be returned to the federation account to be used for the welfare and the well-being of the Nigerian people.
“So there can be no question whether under your leadership, the anti-corruption has been effectively fought even as we acknowledged that corruption and those behind it are also fighting back. $
He applauded the president for the Open Governance Partnership (OGP), expressing his belief that the process will help make operations of government open to the public.
The party leader said the retreat should critically “review our achievements in the first term and map out strategy for the second term.
“What we hope to achieve in this Next Level Agenda is clear. This is why I want to challenge us to look at the following issues amongst others:
“The need for a long term national development plan to replace the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which is expected to end in the next few years; the need to improve our revenue through blocking leakages and ensuring that every revenue agency is remitted to the federation account and is what is due in a timely manner.
“Of course in this we must commend the president for introducing the Treasury Single Account (TSA) but as operators would tell you, this policy is there but we must improve our strategy to ensure that leakages that are still there are effectively blocked.”
He also said there was need for every ministry, department and agency to have a plan to address challenges facing the country.
“There is need to rejig the security apparatus and operational use of community policing.”