Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande speaks on the determination of President Muhammadu Buhari’s-led administration to revamp Nigeria economically. He also appealed to the Nigerian elite to support the government. SEYE OLUMIDE reports.
Q. WANING CONFIDENCE IN THE BUHARI’S ADMINISTRATION
A. I believe that a lot of Nigerians are persuaded about the determination of the President Buhari’s government to address the critical needs of the country, especially in those three areas that the ruling party promised during the campaign, which are the economy, security and anti-corruption.
The most significant thing is that this administration has stopped the massive bleeding of this country through corruption. Clearly the pillage of public resources has reduced significantly and such achievement cannot be overlooked.
You cannot underestimate the fact that at the point where the resources are meagre, this government has managed to do tremendous things.
I have said two things, first it is not only that we have stopped the bleeding of this country but we have also been able to do much more with fewer resources what the country could not achieve when it was earning much money.
This government has also trimmed the cost of governance and because of its strategic planning; it was able to navigate successfully out of recession. So when we talk about losing confidence, I don’t think that is the right narrative. The narrative is that hope rising as the government continues on he right path and this is because the presidency is working as a team. Things are moving steadily, especially in the agricultural sector.
The administration could also boast of how it has created enabling business environment, which a council led by the Vice President has been looking into from different approach.
Q. THE COUNTRY STILL GROPING FOR SURVIVAL OVER TWO AND A HALF YEARS SINCE THE GOVERNMENT CAME INTO POWER
A. The problems we are dealing with are not the ones caused in two or eight years. These are very long standing issues and they cannot be turned around over the night.
The question is look at what is being done. To focus on the power sector for instance, there is a significant improvement in generation and in terms of transmission, last year we were able to transmit up to 5,000 megawatts before we started having the privatization of the oil facilities. There is an improvement, from the point of view of the generation we are also saying let’s focus on off the grid transmission as well as the generation of power.
What we are talking about cannot happen suddenly; it takes strategic planning and discipline, which this government is doing.
These are problems that have gone up for over 15 years and much longer. I have seen and observing on a daily basis very diligent efforts by those that are handling things under an honest and properly motivated leadership of President Buhari. If we continue on this path, there is no way these problems will not be solved.
Q. SELECTIVE ANTI-GRAFT WAR OF PRESIDENT BUHARI
A. That may be a narrative fit for just a cock and bull story. Mr. President is somebody who understands his place as the leader of the entire country. That is why in many of the things he has done; he has demonstrated that it is about Nigeria and not about the political party in power.
We are not bothered about interest in some people but concerned about specific instances of mismanagement or reckless pillaging of resources.
For instance, in addressing the issue of insurgency in the Northeast and how come Nigeria came under the mercy of the Boko Haram insurgents, it was discovered that money that was allocated for defence spending were mismanaged. I just gave that as an example, there are many instances. People insinuating that the government is doing selective trial on corruption are those trying to obstruct it from doing what it needed to do. The truth of the matter is that if you are accused, the idea of raising political sentiment or that I am a member if a political party should not come in.
The most important thing is for the elite of this country, in every sector, to come together and think of how to make Nigeria work.
Q. APPEAL TO NIGERIAN ELITE TO SUPPORT BUHARI
A. There is no sidelining for development. You may be talking about people who claim they are not getting appointments, that is not what we are talking about, we are talking about how those of us that have been blessed with resources or some kind of leadership traits and exposures to come together and join hands with this administration to move Nigeria forward. When we talk about development, everyone is looking at the government but how much is the budget of the government, just about seven trillion; if you look at the economy of the country, it is worth over N90 trillion compared with that of seven trillion by the government. So the point I am making is that there is so much money outside the government in this economy and that is why we saying the private sector has a lot to do to assist the economy grow. The private sector can actually spurred the economy; it is on that premise I make the appeal to the Nigerian elite to cooperate with the Buhari administration. The government meant well and it is also determined.
The Economy Recovery Plan, which the government launched, was about how to incorporate the private sectors. What the business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote is planning on fertilizers and the refinery will ultimately provide over 150 barrels of oil per day or more.
That is one of the beauties of the private sector. That is the importance of the elites. How much money is the government earning compared to the amount in the economy. So we are saying we need to spur the private sectors and the elites so the economy can thrive. We may have political and other differences but let us commit to the development and growth of this country.