The controversy over the state of the nation’s economy continued on Thursday with the faction of the Peoples Democratic Party known as the New PDP accusing the Goodluck Jonathan administration of running the economy aground.
It said in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, on Thursday, that officially-induced oil theft, dwindling returns from oil and massive looting of the treasury, were pointers that Nigeria was on the brink of economic collapse.
But the Presidency and the Bamanga Tukur-led PDP advised Nigerians to ignore the claim because the economy was doing well.
But the New PDP argued that despite the claims by the Jonathan administration that the economy was on a good footing, there were overwhelming facts that it (economy) was “now comatose.”
According to the faction, one of the facts is the inability of the Federal Government to pay states their share of the Federal Allocation since July. It put the total sum owed the states at N336bn.
The statement, which was attributed to the National Chairman of the New PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, reads in part, “As of today (Thursday), the states are being owed N336bn, with the N75bn being the balance of the July 2013 arrears, N121bn from June augmentation and over N90bn as July augmentation.
“The implication of this unfortunate development is that the 36 states have become impoverished and unable to meet up with their basic obligations, including the payment of workers’ monthly salaries, which many of the states have been unable to do due to lack of funds.
“Chairman of the New PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, has therefore unequivocally condemned the rape of the country’s economy by the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.”
The PDP faction, which also put the percentage of unemployment in the country at about 80 per cent, said because of the arrears, most states had not been able to meet their obligations to their contractors.
It pointed out that the inability of states to pay their workers was capable of adding to the social, economic and political problems facing the nation.
This, the group said, was a grave danger to the country as youth and labour restiveness could erupt.
The PDP faction added, “Nigerians should expect further worsening of the unemployment situation and the loss of jobs, which are inevitable should the Federal Government continue with the present shoddy management of the economy which leaves much room for abuse.
While asking where the money accruing to the nation had gone to, the New PDP said the Central Bank of Nigeria had revealed that the country earned N1.05tn in July. It therefore wondered why the Ministry of Finance had not been able to pay states their due statutory allocations.
” The truth is that Nigeria is broke. Worse days are ahead under this inept and visionless administration.
“It is unacceptable for Nigerians to be subjected to this grand level of suffering even when their country is one of the world’s leading oil producers,” the New PDP stated.
But the Jonathan administration, through the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr.Samuel Ortom, said the economy was doing well.
Ortom, who was at the national headquarters of the PDP in Abuja, where he briefed members of the National Working Committee of the party on the activities of his ministry, said, “the Nigerian economy is doing well and there in no need for anyone to raise the false alarm.”
He added, “I am not surprised about the antics of some people to run the administration of President Jonathan down in the name that the economy is not doing well. It is part of the grand design to run government down, especially now that elections are around the corner.
“The economy is doing well. It is the gimmick of our detractors. By every standard, we can beat our chest down and say that the economy is doing well.”
He explained that the fact that Foreign Direct Investment had gone down from $8.1bn in 2011 to $7.1bn in 2012, did not indicate that the economy was in a bad shape.
The minister added that the FDI of $8.1bn investment inflow into Nigeria was the highest in Africa, saying that the FDI in the next three years stood at N3.9tn, while the total investment commitment in the next three years is N2.7tn.
He said the expectation by 2015 was that Nigeria would be among the first five countries in Africa and 34 globally competitive ranking by 2015.
Ortom also said that cement importation reduced by 51 percent between 2011 and 2012.
Also, the PDP under the leadership of Tukur, asked Nigerians not to take the Baraje faction seriously.
Its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Ibrahim Jalo, said that the party and the Presidency were not against constructive criticism.
He said, “If that allegation is made by economists, we would say they are telling the truth. But we all know that an angry man may not be able to reason well.
“That is why they are making sweeping allegations without anything to back them up. It is a blanket statement.
“We cherish criticism, but such criticism must be constructive and must be sensible. Let them come forward with evidence and we would debate them.”