The federal government says the economic blueprint recently unveiled by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, is a “crude attempt at copying all that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has done.”
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that Atiku’s blueprint is a poor version of the present government’s economic strides.
Atiku had earlier in the month presented his economic blueprint at a private sector forum organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI).
He said the blueprint unveiled by Atiku in Lagos the previous week did not offer anything new in job creation, infrastructure financing and relationship with the private sector.
According to the minister, other areas poorly copied by Atiku in the blueprint were the rejuvenation of the power sector, poverty reduction, debt management and the overall management of the economy.
“It is shocking that an opposition that has condemned all that this administration has done will turn around to weave its so-called economic blueprint around the same things that are currently being done.
“This news conference is aimed at exposing the hypocrisy in an opposition that condemns an administration while showcasing a blueprint that is nothing, but a poor version of what’s on the ground,’’ he said.
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Buttressing his point, Mr Mohammed said the position of Atiku in the blueprint that “reducing infrastructure deficit will enhance economy, unleash growth and wealth creation’’, is not novel.
“No one understands this better than this sitting administration.
“Even our worst critics will agree that our record on infrastructure development is next to none in the history of this country.
“Across the country, we have constructed 8,352.94 kilometres of roads, rehabilitated 7,936.05 kilometres of roads, constructed 299 bridges, maintained 312 bridges and created 302,039 jobs in the process.
“We have also delivered houses in 34 states of the federation under the first phase of the National Housing Project.
“We were able to achieve these through a combination of budget increase and innovative infrastructure financing methods,’’ the minister stressed.
Mr Mohammed recalled that before the Buhari administration came to power, the budget for the roads component of the Federal Ministry of Works was a meagre N18.132 billion.
He added that when Mr Buhari got into office in 2015, the budget for the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing increased exponentially to N260.082 billion in 2016.
The budget also increased to N274.252 billion in 2017; to N356.773 billion in 2018; to N223.255 billion in 2019; to N227.963 billion in 2020 and N241.864 billion in 2021, he added.
“Therefore, for anyone using this as a campaign stunt without acknowledging what we have done so far is cheap and disingenuous.
“Let me say that I am not very surprised that His Excellency the former vice president only reeled out, in his so-called economic blueprint, what we have been doing in the past seven years plus.
“That’s what you get from someone who leaves the country after losing an election, only to parachute into town when another election is due,’’ Mr Mohammed stressed.
The minister commended Buhari’s government for engaging in massive infrastructure development despite the paucity of resources.