By: Peretine Ikenebomeh
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has replied former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, after he suggested diversification of the economy to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In an opinion piece titled “How to Pull Nigeria from the Brink”, the former Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party groaned over the country’s current economic quagmire and growing foreign debts. Atiku asked the Buhari-led administration to embrace agriculture rather than depending solely on oil.
Reacting to the former Vice President’s suggestion, the APC in a statement signed by the its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu stated that Atiku was part of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s short-sighted government and never practiced what he is now preaching.
Though the party appreciated Atiku’s decision to key into Buhari regime’s policy direction in terms of diversifying the economy, he was however accused of not acknowledging the Buhari-led administration’s effort in diversifying the economy in the last five years.
The statement read “While we appreciate that Atiku Abubakar is keying into this administration’s policy direction regarding diversification, we are only worried that it took him 13 years after leaving office to realise that the Government under which he served as the Vice President was short-sighted for its failure to faithfully diversify the Nigerian economy”,
“Not to be confused, Atiku Abubakar had eight years as a powerful Vice President and Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation with vantage opportunity to lead the country away from its dependence on oil. How Nigeria got worse even when international oil prices were stable and high are matters Atiku Abubakar may still need to address in future.
“The recent closure of the country’s borders and the anchor borrowers programme as part of the efforts and successes of the President Buhari-led administration to boost the agriculture sector.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar may wish to know that the policy he has unfortunately chosen to label as “insane” has led to a significant spike in rice production across the country, opening up of hundreds of rice mills, indigenous manufacturing firms are sourcing their raw materials locally, boom in poultry farming, with Nigerians now patronising locally made food items like never before and, in the process, boosting the income of farmers and local producers.
“It is heart-warming to know we are coping well as the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdowns are testing our country’s capacity to feed itself. We have been able to meet the pandemic induced surge in demand for foods only because the APC administration has been implementing policies targeted at expanding the capacity of our farmers and the other players in the allied industries.
“We ask Atiku Abubakar; where would we have gotten the farm produce for palliatives and feed our people during the lockdown if we had not taken the courageous route of looking inwards while curtailing sabotage from neighbouring economies?
“In the areas of plugging revenue leakages, curbing waste, diversifying and growing the economy, budgeting, borrowings, ease of doing business, support of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), the President Muhammadu Buhari government is matching electoral promises with actions”.