President Muhammadu Buhari’s election in 2015 saved Nigeria from becoming a failed state, the federal government said yesterday in a stern reply to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s last week rebuke of Buhari’s administration as heading the country towards failure.
It said contrary to the former president’s claim, Nigeria was on its way down the slope after 16 years of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) rule before Buhari ascended power and brought the country back from the brink.
Obasanjo had on Thursday said Nigeria was slowly becoming a failed state and a basket case that urgently needed to be pulled from the brink of collapse.
Speaking while delivering a speech titled: “Moving Nigeria away from tipping over,” at a consultative dialogue in Abuja, the former president said he had never seen Nigeria so divided, adding that many of the problems plaguing the country today were due to the recent mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity.
But in an apparent response to Obasanjo’s claims, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement yesterday, said that Buhari took office at a time some parts of the country’s territory were under occupation and many cities, including the capital city of Abuja, were a playground for Boko Haram insurgents.
The presidency too backed Mohammed yesterday, coming down hard on Obasanjo over his comment on the state of the nation, describing him as the country’s “Divider-in-Chief” even as the All Progressives Congress (APC) joined the fray and said it was ironic that political actors that midwife and institutionalised corruption, impunity and eroded the country’s value systems are the same characters posing as voices on the way forward.
Mohammed, who described the leadership of the opposition as ”rapacious and rudderless,” said until now the nation’s wealth had been looted dry, with little or nothing to show for the nation’s huge earnings, especially in the area of infrastructure.
The minister described as a cruel irony that those who frittered away the country’s resources at a time of financial buoyancy and planted the seed of insecurity in some parts of the country, were the same people now lashing at a reformist government.
He said: ”Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges. But whatever situation the country has found itself in, things would have been much worse but for the deft management of resources, unprecedented fight against corruption, determined battle against insurgency and banditry as well as the abiding courage of Mr. President in piloting the ship of state.
”Nigeria today is not a failed state, but a nation that is courageously tackling its challenges and building a solid infrastructure that will serve as the basis for socio-economic development, a nation that is unrelenting in battling insecurity and working hard to ensure the greatest prosperity for the greatest number of people.”
The minister noted that in spite of declining revenue at 60 per cent less of national income, the present administration had made progress on all fronts and set the country on the path of sustainable growth and development, adding that no government in the history of the country had done so much.
He berated the opposition for playing up the instances of insecurity in the country, insisting the country could have been overrun by insurgents and bandits had President Buhari not rallied regional and international allies to retard the insurgents who at a time, controlled an estimated 20,000 square miles of the nation’s territory and were recklessly bombing many targets without check.
”They tout the downturn in economic fortunes without putting things in context. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a global shutdown and a drastic fall in global oil demand, Nigeria lost 60 per cent of its earnings, yet the administration has ensured that not a single worker has been retrenched, has paid salaries as and when due and has continued to build infrastructures like roads, rails, bridges and power, among others, that will serve many generations,” he said.
Mohammed accused the opposition of aggravating the national fault lines with angry rhetoric, failing to realise that when national challenges are amplified at a time of dwindling economic fortunes, it is the kind of responsive and responsible leadership being offered by Buhari that is needed to foster peace and unity rather than reckless elocution.
He insisted that the country is on the road to greatness, despite several hiccups, citing the hard push towards food sufficiency; the modernisation of the rail system; the nationwide construction of roads and bridges; the reform in the oil and gas sector; the unprecedented anti-corruption battle, the diversification of the economy and the renewed effort to ensure steady power supply, anchored on a three-phase project that is expected to deliver 25,000MW of electricity in the next few years.
He lauded Nigerians for their perseverance and understanding, especially against the backdrop of the stifling effects of COVID-19 on the economy, and appealed to them to continue to support the administration as it seeks to lift 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years.
”In one of the most difficult moments in the nation’s history, Nigeria is fortunate to have at the helm a leader who is not only dedicated, selfless and patriotic but one who is globally acknowledged for his discipline, integrity and vision. Those who genuinely love Nigeria will support, rather than subvert, this committed leadership,” Muhammed said.