The All Progressives Congress [APC], has reacted to criticisms by a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] Charles Soludo, saying it would pursue massive job creation and inclusive development if it wins the February 14 poll.
This is unlike the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which insulted the former CBN boss for daring to question the basis on which President Goodluck Jonathan is seeking reelection.
Mr. Soludo had while evaluating the country’s economy under Mr. Jonathan, scored the administration an “F” on economic management, and suggested the Jonathan government is Nigeria’s worst in economic management.
Mr. Soludo said while Mr. Jonathan lacks achievements to point to, or clear future plans as he seeks re-election, his main challenger, the APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, also lacks specific plans on how to salvage Nigeria’s economy should he win elections next month.
“My advice to President Jonathan and his handlers is to stop wasting their time trying to campaign on his job record. Those who have decided to vote for him will not do so because he has taken Nigeria to the moon. His record on the economy is a clear ‘F’ grade,” Mr. Soludo said.
“Everywhere else in the world, government performance on the economy is measured by some outcome variables such as: income (GDP growth rate), stability of prices (inflation and exchange rate), unemployment rate, poverty.”
In a swift response, the Director of Media and Publicity at the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, took Mr. Soludo to the cleaners for challenging the president’s economic policy.
While boasting about the country’s recent designation as the largest economy in Africa under Mr. Jonathan’s regime, Mr. Fani-Kayode said no right-thinking person would complain about such feat.
“Needless to say my friend and brother Charles Soludo is confused and conflicted. He seems to have lost touch with reality and this is what often happens when you spend too much time with the Buharists,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.
After slamming the APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, for lacking all the qualities in the book, the Jonathan campaign spokesperson went further to say that Mr. Soludo is ignorant and prayed for a time he would see the light.
“I respect Charles Soludo immensely but I believe that he got it quite wrong here. He is in error and he needs to sit up, reconsider his views and review his unsavoury and disrespectful contribution. To say that the president should not run in this election and that he should throw in the towel is absurd and self-deprecating,” Mr. Fani-Kayode continued.
“It is a manifestation of the morbid fear of failure and defeat that the leaders of the opposition are all suffering from. Whether Soludo and his friends like it or not, not only will President Goodluck Jonathan run in this election but he will also win and he will do so convincingly.”
But unlike Mr. Fani-Kayode, the Head, Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation, Kayode Fayemi, started by commending Mr. Soludo for contributing to the ongoing national debate.
Mr. Kayode said the APC agrees with the former CBN governor on the need for political parties to focus on issues that matter most to Nigerians including the country’s progress and the well being of its people.
He also noted that Mr. Soludo’s comments tallied with the concerns majority of Nigerians have expressed about the “incalculable damage” the Jonathan government had done to the country’s economy.
It, however, said its platform provides a real option to Nigerians who desire genuine change for the country.
“The APC does not intend to ride into power on a mere rhetoric of ‘change’. The change that we propose is fundamental in many ways as it is critical to the very survival of our country,” Mr. Fayemi said, unlike his PDP counterpart who derided the former CBN governor for highlighting the problems with Nigeria’s troubled economy.
“This in itself presents a major distinction between our party and the PDP. Perhaps, the most compelling argument against the People’s Democratic Party today is that its government and leadership do not even see that Nigeria is in trouble.
“While majority of our people wallow in abject poverty, and the gap in inequality gets ever wider by the day, yet PDP has basked in self-celebration of imagined accomplishments. How can a party or a government even begin to solve a problem that it does not believe exist? Like in all things, PDP is stuck in denial.”
Although the party said it does not promise an Eldorado, it maintains that its programmes are based on the critical awareness of the difficult task ahead, while holding out a ray of hope to the people.
“The promises that we make reflect our innermost belief that the people must be at the centre of development. Especially, we believe that any economic growth that leaves the majority of the people behind, and does not protect the weakest and the vulnerable among us, is merely delusional,” the party said.
It said the country’s unemployment rate of 23.9 percent points to a national crisis, saying the party will tackle unemployment and provide good jobs by embarking on a massive programme of public works, building houses, roads, railways, ports and energy plants.
It stated, “Over the long term, we believe we must wean Nigeria off its dangerous addiction to oil, which currently provides 80 percent of our spending, leaving us at the mercy of volatile international oil prices.
“Even as a federalist party, we believe that an economy that is dependent on a commodity that is so dangerously exposed to price volatility must always prepare for eventuality through savings and investments once the agreed thresholds are met.
“What we disagree with is the unilateral and arbitrary deductions in accruable revenues in a way that hampers the development of the federating States.”
Quoting official government statistics, the APC said the three states with the lowest unemployment rate – Osun, Lagos and Kwara – are under its control, noting that it policy thrust will create an enabling environment and incentives for formal and informal sectors to lead the job creation quest.