By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Presidency yesterday carpeted Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State for accusing President Goodluck Jonathan’s government of being inactive for three years, saying the governor might have been occupied in his state to know the achievements of the administration.
At a briefing in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, who admitted that there were some challenges, insisted that the government was giving its best attention to the problems.
Okupe was reacting to comments by Governor Fashola during a lecture at the 50th birthday celebration of former Governor Timipre Sylva.
Fashola was quoted as saying “this government had been inactive for 3 years and in the fourth year intends to give the electorate kerosene, rice and money for the purpose of seeking their votes.”
However, according to Okupe, “it has become necessary for us to respond to some blatant and obvious lies, deliberate and skillful misinformation contained in the lecture given by Governor Raji Fashola at the 50th Birthday celebration of former Governor Timipre. Governor Fashola stated that “this government had been inactive for three years and in the fourth year intends to give the electorate kerosene, rice and money for the purpose of seeking their votes. Nothing can be further from the truth than this. ‘
”We admit that Governor Fashola may have been too occupied in Lagos and that may have narrowed his vision or precluded him from appreciating lofty developments by this administration all over the country.”
On Jonathan’s achievements
“We state as follows: The Government of President Goodluck Jonathan, has never lied about its achievements, programmes, commitments and even challenges within the Nigerian context. The Government inherited a generating capacity of 2800 Mega Watt, MW, 10 comatose National Integrated Power Projects, NIPPs, and an inefficient Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, the privatisation of which, though central to effective power supply, was never the less, seemingly unachievable.
“In three years, the Government has increased power generation to 5000MW with an installed capacity of 7000MW; which itself would have increased but for sabotage and vandalism sponsored by the opposition. The PHCN was seamlessly and transparently privatised to the acclamation of global players. All the comatose NIPP projects have been completed and brought back to life and their initial problem of non-alignment with gas pipe line infrastructure has been corrected.
“In the last three years, through the execution of its transformation Agenda, this administration, contrary to the assertions of Governor Fashola, has made significant achievements in the following areas: Railways – which were comatose for 20 years, have been revamped. Lagos-Kano lines have been opened and currently carry in excess of 5 million passengers per annum from less than 1 million 4 years ago.”
“Infrastructure – several thousands of our major economic arterial roads have been rehabilitated while more than 2000km of new roads constructed. Aviation – Virtually all our airports international and local have been comprehensively rehabilitated and refurbished.
”Agriculture – local food production has more than tripled. Food imports bill drastically reduced. We have become the largest exporter of cassava in the world. We have increased local Rice Production from 1.5 million tons to 3.5 million tons. We have revived the rice milling in the country. We had 1 million three years ago. Today, we have 18 million. A recently commission mill in Nasarawa is the largest in Africa.
On commerce and industry
“Commerce and Industry – A new sugar master plan is working. We will be self-sufficient in sugar production in 10 years. We are currently net exporter of cement. Housing – for the first time in Nigeria history, a Mortgage Refinancing Company has been formed and capitalized with $ 300 million. This will allow low and middle income Nigerians to be able to access long term mortgage loan at cheap rates nationwide.”
“Economy – We have maintained healthy economic indices in the last three years. We have successfully diversified the Nigeria economy. Latest figure shows that contribution from oil has significantly reduced.
”We are currently the largest economy in Africa and the 26th largest in the world. If we are able to maintain the current trend, we will be among the world top 20 in 10 years.”
“On the issue of insurgency, the President has not lied to the people of Nigeria. Insurgency is a global phenomenon which has recently plagued the country. At its peak, it ravaged some 12 States in the North including Abuja. Today, because of the courage, resilience and capability of our Armed Forces and Security Agencies, we have pushed them to the fringes of the North Eastern parts of the country. There are still obvious challenges but Government is giving it the best attention and considerations possible.
“Recently, Foreign Allies including Britain, USA, France, Israel, China and Australia have arrived Nigeria soil and are co-operating with our military to resolve especially the issue of the kidnap of the Chibok girls. These are the best global players and have been with us for about six weeks. If the releasing of the girls was a tea-party, definitely, it should have been over by now. We have said it before and we will say it again, “yes, we know where the girls are but our approach at releasing them must be carefully weighed against their overall safety.
“It is a matter of National disgrace and shame that highly placed, and highly net worth individuals in the country will continue to politicise the Nations misfortunes and challenges not minding the deleterious and untoward demoralizing effects this attitude have on our Military especially, the widows and innocent children of our Military heroes who die daily on the fields, defending their country”.
On missing $49 billion
“On the issue of the purported missing $49 billion from the NNPC account, it is regrettable that even some of the best among us will in the name of politics descend so low to propagate a confirmed falsehood. Even the originator of this story has since changed the figures at least three times. From $49 billion to $12 billion and to $20 billion, yet, none has been substantiated.”