By Chinwendu Agoha (Governance Reporter)
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of criminal misrepresent of the position of the Chairman of President Muhammadu Buhari's Economic Advisory Council (EAC), Professor Doyin Salami, on external borrowing.
The group said in a statement by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, that the misrepresentation is, however "in line with the character of a party that is clearly struggling for survival in the face of massive infrastructure development it could not do in 16 years.
"We consider PDP's attempt to twist the words of Professor Salami as the height of criminal obfuscation, especially with the manner the party's media handlers described an innocuous comment on the country's debt service-to-revenue ratio as a revelation.
"In a bid to latch on to what it thought was ammunition against the Buhari administration, the opposition party conveniently ignored Salami's recommendations which include the need for States to ramp up their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), as well as facilitate more investments at the sub-national level.
"It is something of a surprise that a party that once prided itself as Africa's largest party does not have the capacity to understand that the EAC chairman was simply asking the States to do more to complement the federal government's revenue drive.
"The economist was empathic that State houses of assembly need to do more because, according to him, 'the subdued government revenue is as a result of constraints around domestic production/investment; low tax base, as tax revenue-to-GDP still revolves around seven percent; limited efforts to explore and unlock opportunities for revenue generation at State level; over-centralization, and issues relating to efficiency in revenue collection.
"We also make bold to say that there was nowhere in Professor Salami's speech on the state of the economy that he even questioned the President's handling of the economy as suggested by the PDP.
"But it is also increasingly clear that the opposition party is so adept at manufacturing lies on issues that are available in the public space, just to malign the Buhari administration.
"And just like PDP is so keen on reinforcing its lies, we won't stop providing facts on how the Buhari administration is delivering on infrastructure projects, paying outstanding contractors' debt running into billions of naira, clearing the $6bn JV cash call debt inherited in 2015 and also cycling more Nigerians out of poverty through Africa's largest social welfare scheme.
"Let us add here that Nigeria once had 112m people representing 67% of the population in 2012 living under the poverty threshold, but latest world Bank figures show that only 40% of the population are now living on less than $1.90 a day", it said.
BMO added that PDP was only playing to the gallery with its claims that the All Progressive Congress (APC) cannot point to any legacy project financed by loans taken by the Buhari administration.
"We see that claim as a 'reverse psychology' by a party which spent 16 years in power but does not have a single project to show for the trillions of naira the country generated in revenue, and the $63bn public debt it left behind in 2015.
"This is an indisputable fact and we in fact challenge PDP to point at that major project which any of its administrations began and completed between 1999 and 2015.
"Conversely, the Buhari administration has in six years put in place several legacy projects in all the six geopolitical zones of the country, ranging from the Lagos-Ibadan railway line to that of Itakpe to Warri which was initiated over 30 years ago but abandoned by successive governments.
"Other legacy projects that PDP leaders are too blind to see are the Second Niger Bridge which is to be concluded in a few months, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano highway, and the airports terminal expansion projects.
"As for the opposition party's claim that President Buhari's fresh loan request was opaque, we invite Nigerians to know that this is yet another blatant lie.
"For the avoidance of doubt, the document attached to the request for approval includes a summary of key projects in each of the six geopolitical zones that will be funded by the loan.
"The breakdown shows that five international bodies will jointly provide the fund which is to be used, amongst others, for the construction of the branch line of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project to Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, the Kano-Maradi standard gauge railway, and a Value Chain Development Programme-Additional Financing, which is to benefit farmers in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Nasarawa, Enugu and the Kogi States.
"So PDP has no basis to describe projects to be funded by the loan request as opaque".
It reassured Nigerians that the Buhari administration will leave behind a legacy of infrastructure that will enhance investments and human capital development. NNL.