By Akanimo Sampson, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is currently raising the bar of its political confrontation with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), warning that that the country’s annual borrowing under Buhari/APC isaround N4.00 trillion.
The opposition is however, boasting that Nigerians have suffered enough hardship under the administration and as such, looking up to their Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President, for solution.
‘’We cannot afford to fail them’’, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, while tackling the Federal Government on the renewed debt burden in the country.
PDP specifically took on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law, accusing him of deceiving the public and diverting attention to the ‘’alarming borrowing spree of the Buhari administration’’.
They alleged that the Buhari administration converted domestic debt borrowed in naira, to the US dollar so that the very high exchange rate will make the domestic debt look smaller in dollars. This, according to the PDP, ‘’is a deceptive picture because domestic debt was accumulated in naira and not in dollar’’.
‘’It is important to point out that the domestic debts of states were not part of the data base until 2013. Therefore, a sincere comparison of debts over the years should have focused on total external debt and Federal Government’s domestic debt.
‘’In view of the above, if Vice President Osinbajo, was not being economical with the truth, the appropriate comparison should be to have the domestic debt in naira and convert the external debt to naira to get national debt for each of the years, which show that the Buhari administration has accumulated more debts that any other administration’’, the party said.Continuing, they said, ‘’an appropriate comparison will further show that the annual growth rate of public debt was only 0.44 percent under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, 20.14 percent under the Yar’Adua and Jonathan administration and 29.6 percent under President Buhari.
‘’We therefore charge the Vice President to refrain from bandying figures that he cannot substantiate, in an attempt to score cheap political point. Nigerians have moved beyond the lies, deception, propaganda and beguilement of the APC. It amounts to a huge disservice to our nation if a person of such high office of the Vice President will allow himself to be used to distort figures to deceive Nigerians.
Ologbondiyan said his party was also bringing to the attention of Nigerians, an alleged deliberate distortion of facts by Osinbajo regarding the nation’s debt profile, which PDP claimed has escalated to a frightening proportion under the Buhari administration.
Hitting hard on the government, the party said, ‘’in the desperation to divert attention from the failures of the Buhari administration, Vice President Osinbajo falsified financial templates to argue that this government has no blame in the accumulation of debts under its watch. It is an incontrovertible fact that the Buhari administration has accumulated more debts that any other administration in the history of our nation.
‘’Our dear Vice President forgot the Nigerians are aware that between 2016 to 2017, under President Buhari, our annual borrowing was about N3.7 trillion as against the N1.04 trillion annual borrowing perimeter between 2008 to 2015. Between 1999 to 2007 the annual borrowing perimeter was as low as N96 billion’’.
In the mean time, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled November 18, 2018 for the commencement of Presidential and National Assembly campaign activities ahead of the 2019 general elections.
In this regard, PDP is informing Nigerians about the tenor, outlook and structure of their Presidential campaign, pointing out that it has been an unprecedented outpouring of goodwill, support, solidarity and prayers from millions of the citizenry to them and Atiku, since his emergence at the Port Harcourt National Convention.
‘’The emergence of Atiku in preparedness to take over the mantle of leadership from the incompetent, insensitive and divisive President Buhari-led administration spurred spontaneous jubilation across our nation irrespective of religious, ethnic, gender and even political affiliations.
‘’Since then, our party and the Presidential candidate have continued to receive solidarity from hosts of professional bodies, labour unions, major socio-cultural groups, religious bodies, traditional institutions, student groups, international organizations and even top members of the APC at various levels.
‘’Today, our Presidential candidate has the highest demography of supporters and volunteer groups, cutting across an overwhelming majority of Nigeria’s voting population in all the nooks and crannies of our country.
‘’Also, since the emergence of Atiku, our membership strength has soared with millions of hitherto apolitical Nigerians daily joining our fold alongside others crossing over, in droves, from other political parties, particularly, the APC. Currently, the repositioned PDP has regained its place as the party with the widest grassroots penetration and election-ready presence in all the polling units across our nation’’, PDP said.
The rest of their testimony went thus: ‘’Nigerians are rallying on the platform of the repositioned PDP to elect a visionary President with the capacity, goodwill and readiness to restore our nation to the path of national cohesion, political stability and economic prosperity; which qualities they have identified in Atiku and his running mate, former Governor Peter Obi.
‘’This consensus transcends ethnicity, religion and partisan considerations as the PDP stands shoulder to shoulder with the people to achieve lasting healing for our nation. Our Presidential campaign will therefore be issue-based. We will focus on issues that have direct bearing on the welfare of Nigerians who have suffered enough hardship, pain and anguish in the last three and half years under an insensitive, incompetent and disconnected administration that cares less about them.
‘’Our campaign will focus on solutions. The PDP will not allow itself to be dragged down into the marshes of propaganda, smear campaign, lies and deceit of the fading, discredited and rejected APC. We will focus on issues of putting our people back to work by creating opportunities for the youths and the over 30 million Nigerians who have lost their means of livelihood because of the harsh economic policies of the Buhari administration.
‘’The PDP and our Presidential candidate will focus on ensuring security and ending the daily bloodletting in our country. We will focus on how to increase the purchasing power of Nigerians, as well as revamp our economy through strategic intervention in critical sectors, especially,power, food security, road and railway infrastructure, education, energy, health, water provision, and labour issues among others, which have been wrecked by the Buhari administration.
‘’The PDP will proffer direction to reduce cost of governance and release funds for development purposes; cut harsh tariff and tax regimes, eradicate corruption and engender enabling environment for business to thrive in a manner that will strengthen our naira and restore investor-confidence in our economy.
‘’Our campaign will therefore be strategically centralized and streamlined to ensure effectiveness and responsibility in our messages content, dissemination and general engagement with Nigerians at all levels. In this regard all support groups for our presidential campaign are directed to ensure that their operations and activities are approved and coordinated under the direct supervision of the party.’’