The federal government thursday in Abuja berated the opposition for “throwing spurious allegation’’ that N10 trillion has been looted under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said such false allegation could only come from “an opposition that is unserious, very disdainful of the truth and lacks ideas.’”
The PDP, on Monday, asked the presidency to address Nigerians on the leaked memo detailing corrupt oil contracts to the tune of N9 trillion ($25billion dollars) at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which are under President Muhammadu Buhari’s direct supervision as Minister of Petroleum Resources.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Governing Council of Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), the minister said “they (opposition) erroneously believed that being in opposition means crying wolf where there is none.’’
“They spew out fake information at the speed of light!
“Where is the seriousness in an opposition party throwing out a spurious figure of N10 trillion as the amount of money that has been looted under the present administration?
“What is Nigeria’s annual national budget?
“How do you react to an opposition that is deliberately perpetually blind to the monumental achievements of this administration?
“As I said at a press conference recently, this administration has recorded a number of unprecedented achievements, seen and acknowledged by Nigerians who have benefitted from them.’’
Mohammed said the Buhari administration which inherited 2,690 megawatts of power, had taken it to 7,000MW.
He said the government had taken Nigeria closer to self-sufficiency in rice than any administration before them.
“We are just two years away from meeting our target production of six million MT of milled rice, which is Nigeria’s total rice consumption.
“We increased the number of rice farmers from five million to an all-time high over 11 million, and we have cut Nigeria’s rice import bill of 1.65 billion dollar annually by 90 per cent the highest such cut ever,’’ he said
According to the minister, the administration is feeding 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 schools in 24 states, and employing 87,261 cooks.
He said the government is paying conditional cash transfer of N5,000 monthly to 297,973 poorest and most vulnerable households, never before done in Nigeria.
“We are building roads, rail and power, spending an unprecedented N2.7 trillion on infrastructure alone in just two years and we have raised capital expenditure in the yearly national budget to an unprecedented 30 per cent.
“On the average, our Social Investment Programmes have benefitted nine million people, either in N-POWER, GEEP, Home-Grown School Feeding Programme or Conditional Cash Transfer.
Mohammed, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the government had retaken every inch of Nigeria’s territory from insurgents, adding that the economy was also back on the path of growth, after the recession of 2016-2017.
The minister, who supported his assertions with figures, said Nigeria moved up 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in 2017, and was listed among the 10 most improved economies.
“We are fighting corruption like never before, with our Whistle Blowing Policy yielding N13.8 billion from tax evaders, as well as N7.8 billion, 378 million dollars, 27,800 Pounds recoveries from public officials.
“We are also combating the security challenges facing the country, either in the North-east, the North-central or elsewhere,’’ he said.
The minister said that while naysayers said they had not seen all the achievements, Nigerians who were benefitting directly from them had testified to the reality of the successes.
The minister charged public relations practitioners, whether working for government or not, never to be tired of projecting the image of their establishments, even when some people decided to play the blind or the spoiler.
He said they must never be discouraged or allow themselves to be disenchanted.
Mr Mohammed wished members of the newly inaugurated council a successful tenure.
Mukhtar Sirajo, the new President of NIPR and its Council Chairman thanked the minister for finding time to attend the ceremony and inaugurating the council.
He corroborated the minister’s position that one of the major challenges facing the nation was the attempt by unpatriotic political actors to drum up phantom fault lines to divide the nation.
Mr Sirajo advised the government to widen the space for dialogue, adding that the NIPR would support the government in that regard by establishing a quarterly Public Relations Summit to discuss issues on the nation’s corporate existence