Former President, Goodluck Jonathan is responsible for the economic pains Nigerians are currently grappling with, including the high cost of food items in the market, according to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made this known in an opinion piece he titled: “What is President Buhari doing with the economy?”
Shehu says: “To avoid repeating the past mistakes, Nigerians must come to terms with what went wrong with the past, how bad things were, what was done wrongly, what the past government should have done, before we come to what needs to be done to right those wrongs.
“Believe me; episodes from the Jonathan era can fill books, and other possibilities, such as courtroom drama thriller.”
The President’s spokesperson also criticised the Jonathan administration for its ‘paltry’ outlay on infrastructure projects.
“The current pain is due to the mismanagement of the past. What Nigeria is currently experiencing was inevitable. This government is simply being honest with the people instead of piling up debts and concealing the truth by pretending all was rosy. This government believes that Nigerians deserve to know the truth.
“People stole unbelievable amounts of money. The kind of money some of these ex-officials hold is itself a threat to the security of the state. Since it is not money earned, they feel no pain deploying just anyhow to thwart genuine and well-intentioned government efforts.
“Sadly, even that which was not stolen was wasted. Government coffers were left empty, with huge debts unpaid and unrecorded (this government is working to quantify the amount owed). Even the current high food prices can be traced to past deceit.
“For example, the previous government purchased fertilisers in 2014, worth N65bn and left the bill unpaid. In 2015, the suppliers could not supply fertilisers which resulted in a low harvest, shortages and high food prices.
“This government had to pay off the debt so that the suppliers could begin to supply fertilisers again. Across Nigeria, a green revolution is occurring as Nigerians are going back to the farms, from rice in Kebbi and Ebonyi to Soya and Sesame in Jigawa and Kano. At the same time, Nigerians are looking inwards to identify commercial opportunities from agri-businesses.
“Most of our road contractors had not been paid since 2012; many of them had sent their workers away, adding to the unemployment problem. This government has released capital allocations in the last three months that is more than the whole of 2015. In 2015, Nigeria spent a paltry N19bn on roads, in three months we have spent N74bn and we are already releasing more.
In the transport sector in 2015, government spent just N4.2bn; we have spent N26bn, with more to follow. We are starting a concession that will revive our old rail system for freight, whilst we build a new high speed rail system. Moving heavy goods by rail will reduce our transport costs which will reduce food prices and will save our roads from damage from heavy loads. Government will embrace the private sector through PPP, concessions and other collaborations to deliver services and infrastructure efficiently,” Shehu said.