.

…Govt attacks PDP over court case against convention, plots to destroy Nigeria, others

…Says opposition party hungry, desperate to return to power

…Challenges PDP to account for a 16-year tenure

…Notes diesel, cooking gas price hike beyond Nigeria, experienced in US, UK

…Lies have an expiry date, PDP replies Lai Mohammed

By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor & Dirisu Yakubu, Abuja

The Federal Government yesterday launched an attack on the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for what it described as a plot by the opposition party to stop the convention of the All Progressive Congress, APC, through a court order and heat up the polity with ceaseless negative activities.

It also alleged that PDP’s desperation to return to power in 2023 is responsible for its plan to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, and give the impression the government was not doing anything.

However, the PDP, in a swift reaction, faulted the government’s claim, saying, ‘’lies have an expiry date.’’

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who threw the jabs at the opposition party at a briefing in Abuja, said it is unbecoming of an opposition party to seek to stop the conduct of another party’s national convention and adopt antics geared towards destroying the country just because it was no longer in power.

The minister, who chronicled the numerous antics engaged by the PDP in recent times against the APC, said it is an act of desperation for the opposition to seek to use a court order to stop its national convention and scheme to incite a national mass protest similar to the 2020 #EndSARS protests that led to the loss of many innocent lives and property.

He challenged the PDP to come out of hiding and present the achievements it recorded in the 16 years it held the reins of power in Nigeria and stop behaving strangely under the guise of opposition.

Mohammed, who cautioned PDP to exercise patience till 2023 in order to test its popularity or acceptability at the polls, said it is also disdainful for the PDP to seek to erase what he called “seven years of unprecedented achievements by the Buhari administration” and asked the opposition party to be more remorseful for the havoc it wreaked on Nigeria.

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Show of shame’

Mohammed said: “In the most egregious show of shamelessness and a blatant refusal to be remorseful, they even had the audacity to express righteous indignation that the damage they inflicted on the country in their 16 years of misrule has not been totally undone in just seven years.

“In other words, those who brought the country to its knees are now accusing those working hard to repair things of non-performance. They said they are ready to rescue Nigeria. Pray, where do kidnappers rescue their victims?

“These same guys who kidnapped the fortunes of their country are suddenly posing as rescuers. CAVEAT EMPTOR. Buyers beware! NIGERIANS BEWARE!

“We are not unmindful of the challenges facing this administration, either in the area of economy, security, power, etc. But we have risen stoutly to the challenges, judiciously utilizing the very scarce resources we have.  We are making an impact.

“Nigerians are making great sacrifices because they know that today’s difficulties are like the pangs heralding the birth of a new baby. Today’s pains won’t endure, but the new Nigeria that will emerge will surely do!

“The people on the other side say infrastructure is not important. In their derisive posturing, they ask: ‘na infrastructure we go chop?’ But they have forgotten the role of infrastructure in economic development via higher productivity and service delivery, job creation and poverty alleviation, just to mention a few.

“Little wonder they frittered away the resources of the commonwealth, instead of using such to develop our infrastructure during their time in the saddle.

‘What APC is proud of’

“We are proud that in our time, Nigerians are once again able to travel by rail, this time in total comfort and safety. Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe-Ajaokuta and Abuja Metroline are shining examples of our rail revolution.  We are just getting started. ‘’We have the rehabilitation of the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project that cuts through Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Gombe, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states, and the Bonny Deep Sea and Railway Industrial Park.

‘’We have the Kano-Maradi standard gauge line that passes through some economic hubs of the country, including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the city of Maradi in the Niger Republic.

“We are proud of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure (also known as Deep Blue Asset), aimed at managing, controlling and protecting Nigerian waterways towards the advancement of coastal prosperity.

‘’We are proud that in our time, long-abandoned roads and bridges are either being repaired or built anew. The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which is due to be completed this year, is already offering a joyful ride to happy motorists, saving lives and man-hours in the process.’’

On roads, Mohammed boasted that the APC administration had built many roads in the country, among them, the 26.27km Nnewi-Uduma Road, Sections I and II in Enugu and Ebonyi states; the 100.08km Kano-Maiduguri Road Section II (Shuwarin-Azare) in

Jigawa and Bauchi states; and the 106.34km Kano-Maiduguri Road Section III (Azare-Potiskum) in Bauchi and Yobe states.

Others include the 24km Vandeikya-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road Phase I and II in Benue and Cross River states and the 304km Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontagora-Makera Road.

According to him, the roads are just a part of the over 800 ongoing roads (covering 13,000km) and bridge projects (37 of them undergoing maintenance and repairs), pointing out that the government had undertaken at least one road and one bridge in each state of the federation.

The minister also made reference to the 2nd  Niger Bridge, which is being primed for commission in October this year, claiming that the PDP administration had failed to do any meaningful work on the key infrastructure after having ‘completed it on paper many times.

He boasted that apart from the 2nd Niger Bridge, the administration had also built or repaired the Ikom Bridge in Cross River; Loko-Oweto Bridge in Nasarawa; Ibi Bridge in Taraba and Bamenda-Mfun Bridge linking Nigeria and Cameroon; Chanchangi Bridge along Takum-Wukari Road in Taraba; Koton-Karfe Bridge in Kogi State and Bodo Bonny Road/Bridge in Rivers.

The minister also said the administration had delivered housing units in 34 states of the federation and completed four new airport terminals in Kano, Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt and derided the claim by the PDP that most of the projects being completed and commissioned by the Buhari administration were started by the opposition party.

Mohammed also boasted that while the PDP left the nation’s aviation industry in tatters, the present administration had constructed and installed Boeing 737 full-motion flight Simulator at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, in Zaria, and a fully-automated Aircraft Firefighter Training Simulator also at NCAT, the first of its kind in Africa.

The minister also spoke about the success of the National Social  Investment Programme, NSIP, which he described as the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa and the N-Power scheme which has benefited over one million Nigerians and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) which has benefitted four million people.

‘Impact of agric projects’

Mohammed also made reference to the impact of the agricultural projects and programmes promoted by the Buhari administration which, according to him, has boosted rice, cassava and other cash crops and reduced the country’s reliance on imports.

He said:  “While they frittered away the nation’s resources importing rice and other staples, this administration has worked progressively to ensure our food security as a nation.

‘’Today, rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually, thanks to the Anchor Borrowers Programme, APB. Before the programme, the average production in Nigeria between 1999 and 2015 was less than 4 metric tons annually. Before this administration launched the ABP, there were only 15 standard rice mills in Nigeria. As of today, we have over 50 standards and integrated rice mills creating jobs and reducing unemployment.

‘’Across Nigeria, more than 4.8 million smallholder farmers have so far been supported by the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, with a resultant increase in the production of 23 agricultural commodities, including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato and livestock.

‘’In the words of Mr President, during the launch of the rice pyramid in Abuja, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is working; there is no doubt that Nigeria is making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production.

“In fact, no government has invested in an agricultural revolution like the Buhari administration. They say ‘oh, but Nigerians are still hungry, and the price of the staples is still high’.

‘’Our response is that the impact of our agriculture revolution will soon be felt on dining tables across the country. In this regard, we want to appeal to our farmers to be more patriotic by not allowing foreigners to buy their commodities at farm gates.

‘’They should reciprocate the support being given to them by the Federal Government by slowing down on exports in order to increase the supply of local staples and also reduce prices.’’

Alhaji Mohammed also said the rising prices of petroleum products, including petrol, diesel, aviation fuel and cooking gas in Nigeria were not limited to the country but a global problem also experienced in the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The last issue I want to address is the figures being bandied around by the folks on the other side and a section of the press, comparing the prices of some foodstuffs, petrol, diesel, etc pre-2015 and now. This misuse of statistics is clear mischief. Those who bandy around these figures without putting them in context are being clever by half.

“Let’s take the price of foodstuffs and petrol. Google the price of foodstuffs in other countries, especially the UK and the US, and you will discover a steep rise. Ditto for the price of gas or petrol. What we are saying is that this increase is a global trend, and it’s not limited to any country.

“Therefore, presenting it as a Nigerian problem is mischievous, disingenuous and a clear act of misinformation. Let me add that the crippling fuel shortage experienced across the country in recent times has started easing, as the measures put in place by the government begin to work.”

Lies have an expiry date, PDP replies Lai Mohammed over Buhari’s performance claims

Countering, the PDP  faulted claims by the Federal Government that it had done so much for Nigerians.

PDP  also faulted the government that the high cost of petroleum products was a global phenomenon, even as it described the ruling party as an engine of propaganda.

Spokesman of the party, Debo Ologunagba, said Nigerians no longer take the federal government seriously when it speaks, insisting that for almost seven years in power, the All Progressives Congress, APC, had nothing to show by way of performance or achievements.

“Lies have an expiry date and they should know this. What have they done? Lai should tell Nigerians. All government does is propaganda. The change they promised Nigerians has killed many of us, either by way of insecurity or hunger.

“If he claimed that the high cost of petroleum products cut across the globe, what about insecurity? Every day, Nigerians are dying and the clueless government is busy laying claims to unverifiable achievements.

“You could see them dancing in Abuja during their convention at a time terrorists seized Kaduna airport which is an APC-controlled state. The terrorists stopped passengers from flying and some shameless people are talking about achievements,” he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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