From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

The federal government has come hard on former Vice President Atiku Abubakar over what it described as a campaign stunt of the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while briefing reporters in Abuja, recalled that last week Abubakar spoke on his economic blueprint at an event in Lagos.

Mohammed said the so-called blueprint is a crude attempt at copying all that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has done, especially in the areas of job creation, infrastructure financing, relationship with the private sector, rejuvenation of the power sector, poverty reduction, debt management and the overall management of the economy.

Mohammed also said what was more shocking was that an opposition that has condemned all that the Buhari administration has done, would turn around to weave its so-called economic blueprint around the same things that are currently being done by the same administration.

He added that the media parley was aimed at exposing the hypocrisy inherent in an opposition that condemned an administration, while also showcasing a blueprint that was nothing but a poor version of what’s on ground.

Mohammmed said: “Let’s start with infrastructure. The former Vice President said in his Economic Blueprint that ‘rebuilding infrastructure and reducing infrastructure deficit will enhance the carrying capacity of the economy and unleash growth and wealth creation.’ No one understands this better than this Administration. Even our worst critics will agree that our record on infrastructure development is next to none in the history of this country. Across the country, we have constructed 8,352.94 kilometres of roads, rehabilitated 7,936.05 kilometres of roads, constructed 299 bridges, maintained 312 bridges and created 302,039 jobs in the process. We have also delivered houses in 34 states of the Federation under the first phase of the National Housing Project. We were able to achieve these through a combination of budget increase and innovative infrastructure financing methods.

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“The former Vice President also promised to ‘break the jinx’ in infrastructure financing. Really? We state, unequivocally, that the worst jinx in infrastructure financing was the PDP Administration from 1999 to 2015. Indeed, the Buhari Administration has long broken that jinx, leveraging on such innovative schemes as the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (which is being used to finance the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, 2nd Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road), Sukuk (which has delivered a total of 1,881 kilometres of roads between 2017 and 2020) and the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme (for the construction and rehabilitation of Lokoja-Obajana-Kabba-Ilorin road, reconstruction of Apapa Wharf road, construction of Apapa-Oworonsoki-Ojota road and the Bonny-Bodo road with bridge).

“In the area of power, ex-Vice President Atiku said ‘investments in additional generation capacity are futile without consideration for the complementary transmission and distribution infrastructure to wheel the additional energy’. He then promised to propose legislation to, among others, give states the power to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. It is apparent that Alhaji Atiku has either not heard of the Siemens partnership with the Federal Government under the Presidential Power Initiative, the most ambitious project yet in the efforts to improve the seemingly-intractable power sector on which the PDP frittered over 16 billion dollars to procure nothing but darkness. The Nigeria-Siemens partnership was consummated with the signing of the Implementation Agreement on July 22nd 2019. The three-phase project will deliver 7,000MW in the first phase, 11,000MW in the second phase and 25,000MW in the third phase. This will positively impact job creation, boost investor confidence, accelerate economic growth and reduce cost of doing business. For those who may be in doubt, let me say that this project is a game changer. As you may have read, electricity equipment ordered under the project have started arriving in the country. When they are installed, there will be a major improvement in the supply of electricity across the country. It is also amazing that His Excellency, the former VP has not heard or read that the Senate has passed the electricity bill 2022 that would allow states to generate and distribute power, as well as solve the sector’s challenges,” Mohammed said.

In the area of poverty reduction, Mohammed recalled that Abubakar told his audience that it will be the “centrepiece of our economic development agenda”.

“Could it be that His Excellency has not heard about our National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), the unprecedented programme that is directly and indirectly impacting the lives of poor Nigerians and creating jobs, especially for the youths, through four clusters, namely: the N-Power Programme, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the National Home-Grown School Feeding System (NHGSFP) and the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme,” Mohammed asked.

The minister further recalled that the former vice president told his audience that, if elected, his administration would “establish a strong partnership with the private sector in investing in infrastructure, creating jobs, income and in the fight against poverty”.

“Let’s inform His Excellency that the Buhari Administration’s ”warm handshake” with the private sector has delivered and is delivering an unprecedented number of projects, including the 650,000bpd Dangote Refinery, Dangote Fertilizer plant, Lekki Deep Sea Port, BUA Cement, the 5,000bpd Waltersmith Modular Refinery in Imo State; the 2,500bpd Duport Modular Refinery/Energy Park in Edo State; the 2,000bpd Atlantic Modular Refinery in Bayelsa State; the 12,000bpd Azikel Modular Refinery also in Bayelsa; the five LPG Bottling plants and six LPG depots in 10 northern states and Abuja, the 48,000 L/D base oil production plant in Rivers and the 10,000 Metric Tonnes Per Day methanol production plant in Bayelsa, just to mention a few. These refineries and other projects are the result of a ”warm handshake” between the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board and private sector actors. The private sector is also involved in the ongoing infrastructure development through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, which I mentioned earlier,” the minister stated.

On the issue that the APC-led government has consistently run on budget deficits since it came to power in 2015, and that the budget deficits are often above the three percent threshold permissible under the Fiscal Responsibility Law, Mohammed maintained that it was a misrepresentation of the facts.

The post FG blasts Atiku over presidential candidate’s “economic blueprint” appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

Source: news