Hardship: Presidency failed to provide credible defence for Tinubu’s failure – Atiku

Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate in the
2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday accused the Presidency of failing to
provide a credible defence for what he described as President Bola Tinubu’s
failure to tackle Nigeria’s economic challenges.


Atiku insisted that he offered better policy options during
the 2023 presidential campaign when compared to Tinubu’s “morbid


He was reacting to Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information
and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga’s remark accusing him of carving a niche as the
“opposition-in-chief” to the President and the current government.


Onanuga said Atiku took up the new role due to his failure
to achieve his life-long ambition of ruling Nigeria.


Reacting, Atiku said Onanuga demonstrated ignorance of the
happenings around him.


In a statement signed by his spokesman, Paul Ibe, Atiku
said: “The Presidential Spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, failed to provide a credible
defence of Bola Tinubu’s failures in tackling the economic challenges facing
the country.


“In his characteristic manner, he resorts to insults and
name-calling. He demonstrates ignorance of the happenings around him – as he
denies, for example, that Bola Tinubu’s policies are creating excruciating pain
and causing despair. We wish to respond to him as follows.


“Point 1: Did Atiku Abubakar offer any better policy options
in his run for the presidency?


“Yes, he did. His living prescriptions contrast sharply with
Bola Tinubu’s morbid policies. Atiku’s policy document, My Covenant With
Nigerians, offers a clearly defined and robust roadmap for the socio-political
and economic transformation of Nigeria. On the economy, the policy document
outlines the challenges we face and our vision to get the economy on its feet
and create prosperity. If Bayo desires, he can have a copy for free!


“Point 2: That all the major presidential candidates
supported the withdrawal of subsidy on PMS.


“But so, what? Even if all the major candidates agreed that
the fuel subsidy regime must end and that the multiple exchange rates must be
fixed, this would not translate into endorsing Bola Tinubu’s failures in
implementation. The truth is that unlike Atiku, Bola Tinubu did not understand
the reforms he embarked upon and had no idea what steps to take to mitigate
their negative impact.


“As a leader with foresight, Atiku anticipated that the
withdrawal of subsidy and the unification of exchange rates could, in the
absence of fundamental interventions, impact negatively on micro and small
enterprises in the informal sector. He anticipated that such policies could
elevate the levels of vulnerability and deprivation of poor families. including
the youth and adults with no income.


“The former Vice President, therefore, pledged to support
Nigeria’s businesses by creating an Economic Stimulus Fund with an initial
investment capacity of approximately US$10 billion to prioritize support to
MSMEs across all the economic sectors, as they offer the greatest opportunities
for achieving inclusive growth. The Fund was designed to make it easier for
Nigeria’s 60 million micro and small enterprises to navigate the stormy seas in
the aftermath of the withdrawal of subsidy on PMS.


“In contrast, Bola Tinubu offered a paltry N125 billion to
help the MSMEs, which at today’s exchange rate is no more than US100 million.
Of course, Bayo Onanuga is aware that the pledge is yet to be redeemed by the


“Atiku also pledged to implement a robust social investment
programme to support the poor and vulnerable with CCTs. Atiku’s support to the
poor and vulnerable would include prioritized actions to address the challenges
of displacement and the sufferings of IDPs across the country.


“In contrast, the funds for Tinubu’s CCT were cornered by
his officials in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.


“Alongside the Economic Stimulus Fund, Atiku pledged to
launch a uniquely designed skills-to-job programme that would target all
categories of youth, including graduates, early school leavers as well as the
massive numbers of uneducated youth who are currently not in education,
employment, or training.


“As a leader of vision, Atiku was ready for the potential
fallout of his policies. Bola Tinubu was clearly not ready. It was only after
he unleashed his morbid reforms that he started groping in the dark, looking
for solutions. We all recall that in October 2023, the Financial Times of
London rebuked Bola Tinubu for announcing plans without ideas for how to
implement them.


“Point 3: Is the private sector not overburdened by Bola
Tinubu’s failure to address the aftermath of his policies?


“Would Bayo Onanuga deny that Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline
(GSK), Procter & Gamble (P&G), Sanofi-Aventi Nigeria, Bolt Food,
Equinor etc had exited Nigeria citing reasons including foreign exchange
complexities, security concerns, and high operational costs? Bayo Onanuga must
be living in a dream world outside the shores of Nigeria.


“Point 4: Is Bayo denying that cost-of-living pressures have
intensified since May 2023?


“He needs to read the official statistics from the National
Bureau of Statistics: The annual inflation rate reached a nearly 30-year high
of 28.9% in December 2023, up from 28.2% in November.


“Would Bayo Onanuga deny that food prices, which constitute
a significant portion of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket, soared to 33.9%
in December, the highest level since August 2005? Would he also deny that in
many states of the federation, citizens have blocked roads in protest? Just
yesterday morning (Monday, February 5), it was reported that hundreds of
residents of Minna in Niger State blocked major roads to protest hunger and the
high cost of living in the country. Only failed leaders play the ostrich and
live in self-denial.


“Point 5: The Presidency’s response is full of lamentations
and resorts to blame game. It is a familiar road travelled by the ruling party!


“It has become fashionable for every APC-led government to
blame others, especially the opposition and external factors for Nigeria’s
economic woes. Now, Tinubu is elevating the blame game to the NEXT LEVEL as he
accuses his own party of lacklustre performance.


“The evidence, however, is overwhelming. Tinubu’s
under-performance is largely attributable to leadership failures in the
management of the economy. The failure of leadership by the APC-led government
is staring every Nigerian in the face as the country’s economic, social,
political, and security challenges persist and assume frightening dimensions.
An unprepared leadership such as Bola Tinubu’s fails to anticipate impending
crisis and is always slow to react.”


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