Former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, last Friday said it was doubtful whether Nigeria has indeed exited recession.
Mr. Abubakar made this known in his keynote address while picking the Silverbird’s 2017 Man of the Year Award in Lagos.
“Last year,” Mr. Abubakar said, “we celebrated the fact that we exited our first recession in 25 years. To me, that celebration was premature.
“After contracting for five consecutive quarters, Nigeria came out of recession in the second quarter of 2017 with a GDP growth rate of 0.55 per cent. In the third quarter, we fared better with 1.40 per cent.
“While this looks somewhat like we exited the recession, the reality is that when you factor in our population growth rate of 2.3 per cent, which is one of the highest in the world, have we really exited a recession? Technically, yes, but in reality, it is doubtful.”
The former vice president remarked that Nigeria is going through a lot of challenges in the area of unity, economy and security.
“These challenges are actually symptoms. They are not the ailment. And as any doctor will tell you, you cannot get genuine long-lasting relief if you treat symptoms. You have to target and treat the root cause of the disease.
“What is happening in Nigeria is that as a nation, we are caught up in a modern-day Malthusian Trap. For years, our population has been growing faster than our Gross Domestic Product, bringing us to a point where we have an ever-increasing population competing for resources that are not keeping pace with population growth.
“It may sound simplistic, but if Nigeria can assemble a leadership focused on getting us out of this Malthusian Trap by gradually reversing the trend where population growth exceeds GDP growth, many of these challenges we are currently facing will slowly but surely fade away,”
In February 2018, he said, Nigeria has just overtaken India as the world’s capital of extreme poverty according to the World Poverty Clock. He argued that there are more extremely poor people in Nigeria than there are in India, a country that has six times Nigeria’s population.
“When people do not have jobs and the means to start a business are beyond their reach, they are incrementally much more likely to engage in criminal behaviours like terrorism, kidnapping, militancy and armed robbery,” he noted.
“According to the African Development Bank, in 2017, 18 African countries grew their Gross Domestic Product above 5%. Nigeria, which was number one in 2014, was not amongst these nations. We must figure out what has happened in the intervening years between 2014 and 2018 and fix what went wrong.
“What happened to brilliant initiatives like the YouWIN programme which gave Nigerian youths the training and funding to start their own businesses?”
The former vice president also argued that Nigeria needs to be restructured, in order to fix “Nigeria’s broken systems and not just a campaign gimmick that we fish out of our magic hats and deny after we have gotten what we want.”
“Let me say this: The Restructuring that I, Atiku Abubakar, envisions, will see no state receive less money from the federation account than it currently does. I hope that will ease the anxieties of some who oppose restructuring. Restructuring will not cheat you. It will free you.
“When I was in government, we reduced recurrent expenditure by introducing the monetisation policy and by privatising many government enterprises, especially those that were consuming resources without generating revenue. Those policies have been bastardized today and we have seen a ballooning of our recurrent expenditure and shrinkage of our capital expenditure. We must return to the basics.”
Mr. Atiku noted that the nation cannot spend 70 per cent of its budget on recurrent expenditure at a time Nigeria has more unemployed or underemployed people than the entire population of the Republic of Cameroon.
He said, “Many of you in the audience and those of you watching from home may be surprised to know that when I was a teenager, the Saudi Royal Family came to Nigeria for medical tourism and precisely to the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
“Can you imagine how I feel that now that I am an adult, Nigerians, and especially our leaders, are Africa’s number one medical tourists.
Fubara Set To Create New Cities In Rivers
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has disclosed that arrangements are at advanced stages to achieve the development of new cities in the state that would help to decongest Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
Fubara said that the new cities would end the one city status of Rivers State and attract more investors into the state.
The governor stated this when he inspected the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority’s (GPHCDA) office and project sites in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
Fubara said: “I can assure you that in our time, we might not achieve the dream of that big city in four years, but we will add a few things that would also help us in getting at that target.
“This is because, we are thinking of decongesting the present one city state that we have, which is Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor. We are thinking of developing other parts of the state and our coming here is to see what the agency has been doing, what you have done already and what we can also do to make us achieve more new cities in our state.”
Fubara noted that despite the challenges the agency has been facing, there would be remarkable difference in what it would achieve within his tenure if the agency’s development ideals are aligned with those of the state government.
He, however, charged the agency to be self-sustaining by attracting investors as outlined by its establishment law.
Also speaking, the Sole Administrator of GPHCDA, Amb Desmond Akawor, said that since its establishment in 2009 by the Greater Port Harcourt Law, the agency has been slowed down in creating more cities because of its operational structure and the nature of the Public-Private Partnership it adopted.
Akawor, who is the Rivers State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), explained that a new legal framework has been fine-tuned by the last GPHDA board, which the current management would present to the governor.
He said: “I am sure that with your directives, we will be able to reschedule some of the projects so that we can move forward with all of our partners, especially in the area of reforming or strengthening the public private partnership arrangements.”
Majority Leader Seeks Immortalisation Of Slain DPO
The Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie, has appealed to the Police High Command to consider the immortalisation of the murdered Divisional Police Officer(DPO) in charge of Ahoada East Divisional Headquarters, SP Bako Angbashim, and commiserated with the State Commissioner of Police, CP Emeka Nwonyi; officers and men of the Police Force; and the family of the deceased over the brutal murder of the DPO.
Ehie, who made the appeal in a statement said the slain DPO deserves to be immortalised as he was a gallant, fearless and courageous police officer who distinguished himself in the fight against criminals and bandits in the State, adding that the calamitous killing and decapitation of the DPO by Mr Gift David Okpara Okpolowu, alias 2 Baba and his criminal gang is “an unprecedented low which shocked me beyond words and threw my constituents into an endless mourning circle”.
As the Honourable member representing Constituency 2 at the Rivers State House of Assembly and the incumbent Leader of the House, Ehie said he is using this medium to unreservedly condemn the senseless killing and decapitation of the DPO, and also to reiterate the call for the immediate apprehension and prosecution of his killers and everyone associated with the condemnable act.
Describing SP Angbashim as a gallant, fearless and courageous police officer who distinguished himself in the fight against criminals and bandits in the State, the lawmaker said the slain DPO was the one who single-handedly restored peace and order in Ogoniland.
“Even within the few months he spent in Ahoada East Local Government Area, the results of his gallantry were visible for all to see and appreciate.This is why his killing is not only calamitous and lamentable, but an affront to the government of the day in the State”, he said, adding that no government worths its salt will fold it’s arms and allow criminals and bandits to freely prey on its citizenry in order to make the State ungovernable.
On this score, therefore, Ehie thanked the Governor of the State, Sir SiminalayiFubara for prompt response to the situation which he said has already started yielding wonderful fruits, with some of the criminals associated with the killing of the DPO now under police detention and interrogation.
He also thanked and commend the officers and men of the Police Force as well as operatives of other sister security agencies in the State for their uniquely stellar efforts in fishing out the killers of the DPO.
The Majority Leader, however, called on all Ekpeye people, traditional rulers, chiefs, political elites and the general public to gratuitously assist and work with the police and other security agencies in ensuring that the killers of SP Angbashim are fished out, apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law, saying, “May our State never again witness this type of murderous orgy and life wastage”.
Ehie also appealed to the Police High Command in the State to consider the immortalisation of the slain DPO, while also appealing for meaningful and deserving support to his family and dependants.
While conveying his heart-felt condolences to the Nigerian Police, especially the officers and men of the Rivers State Police Command, the lawmaker prayed the Almighty God to grant them the fortitude to bear the monumental loss. He equally extended his deepest condolences to the family of the DPO, and prayed God to console them and heal their wounds.
Ehie further noted that “the biggest debt we collectively owe SP Bako Angbashim is to redress his killing by arresting his killers and subjecting them to justice.”
Appeal Court Upholds Banigo’s Senatorial Election Victory
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, upheld the judgment of the Rivers State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal that declared Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the Rivers West Senatorial District Election held on February 25, 2023.
The Appellant Court, in her judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senatorial Candidate, Hon. Asita O. Asita as “lacking in merit”.
In her reaction shortly after the verdict at the court premises, the Banigo hailed the judgment, describing it as an “incontrovertible victory of irreversible Senate seat”.
She expressed gratitude to the Almighty God, the leaders/stakeholders of the PDP and the entire members of the Rivers West Senatorial District for their unflinching support.
Banigo assured them of her loyalty and total commitment towards realising the tenets of her Kingdom Mandate.
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