PDP – Let’s make Nigeria work again or let’s loot Nigeria again – By Dolapo Bright

As we go into the General Election, starting on the 23 February 2019, let us reflect deeply on the way to go for our country Nigeria.

In the General Election of 1999, after the long military rule, PDP won the Presidential election by a clear majority and also had a big majority at the Senate and the House of Representative. The Party also had control of about ¾ of the States in the country. This majority was maintained by PDP for 16 years.

In those 16 years, Nigeria as a country was prosperous due to high crude oil prices, in fact, $782 billion is said to have been earned by the country through crude oil sales alone. PDP had everything working for it as a Party in government – our foreign loan debts were cancelled, crude oil prices were at the record high with high production quota, opportunities abounded in the new Information Communication Technology, especially the GSM that brought in foreign investments and forex through the sale of GSM licenses, etc.

These opportunities were there for the government to tap and coupled with the country’s potentials in human and natural resources, these would have laid the solid economic foundation needed by the country to propel her to greatness – to be a true giant of Africa and a country ready to conquer the world.

 

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Did PDP in its 16 years in government use these opportunities to launch Nigeria into the path of greatness, did PDP make Nigeria work?

 In 16 years, PDP had the best opportunity to seek local and foreign investments into the downstream sector of our petroleum industry thus ending the importation of refined crude oil products but instead of encouraging investment into the sector, it encouraged the importation of refined products and maintained a corrupt subsidy regime that enriched Party members and cronies.

 PDP with high income from crude oil in its 16-year rule failed to invest in crude oil exploration for optimal outcome. It also failed to pay the Joint Venture Cash Call and failed to maintain oil and gas distribution installations throughout the country. Gas flaring continued and gas supply to power plants and industries in the country were grossly inadequate which led to shutting down or relocation of many industries.

 The Party had the opportunity to invest money earned from crude oil on infrastructure but failed to do so. In fact, only about 5% of the budget went to the capital project which infrastructure was part of. Roads and rail projects were started and abandoned. Existing roads network were not maintained and became death traps. Over a thousand abandoned projects were left behind by PDP after its defeat in 2015.

 PDP could have improved power generation, transmission and distribution through the $16 billion taken directly from crude oil account. Unfortunately, the $16 billion was squandered as most power generation and distribution equipment procured were abandoned at various Ports in the country. Gas powered power generating plants were built without adequate arrangement for gas supply.

 PDP had the opportunity to improve power generation, transmission and distribution by bringing in the much needed private sector investment and expertise through privatisation of the sector. In this PDP also failed woefully. The sector was privatised and sold to party cronies with no experience in the power sector and no funds to inject into the sector. By the time PDP was voted out of power in 2015, it was able to increase power generation to only about 2000MW in 16 years!

 PDP had the opportunity to lay a solid foundation for a strong economy but failed to do so. The Party had no economy diversification plan, for, in 16 years in government, revenue from oil was the only source of fund driving the economy and the economy was left at the mercy of fluctuating world oil price. By the time the Party was voted out in 2015, it left a whopping N7 Trillion+ in local debts, $65 Billion in foreign debt and a depleted foreign reserve.

 The Party could have from day one in 1999 put in place strategies to fight the cankerworm called corruption but failed to do so. In fact, PDP made the ember of corruption glowing (Remember the famous quote of a PDP President – “Stealing is not corruption” and most recently, a quote from PDP VP candidate for 2019 election – “Fighting corruption is not an economic policy”). Under PDP, the cankerworm spread out and consumed the NASS who had to be bribed before budgets were passed. It also spread out and consumed the civil servants who only remitted a fraction of revenues collected during PDP 16 year rule.

 Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) built at the cost $3.2 billion was privatized for $130 million excluding $120 million Imo River Channel Dredging cost from the purchase consideration.

 The MSMEs, which are known to create massive jobs, would have been helped by the PDP government to become Nigeria’s number one wealth and employment creator but failed to do so. The banking sector neglected the sector and development financing institutions like the Bank of Industry which could have helped the MSMEs were underfunded.

 The PDP had the opportunity to fund an elaborate social investment programme to help the jobless youth and the poor in the country but failed to do so. The very few social investment programmes instituted by the Party were either underfunded or hijacked by party members.

 PDP in its 16 years in power failed to find a lasting solution to herdsmen/farmers clashes. It failed to do anything about this menace which has always affected the peace and economic prosperity of the country rural areas.

 PDP government had the opportunity to nip in the bud the insurgency by Boko Haram but failed to do so until Boko Haram became so big that it took over some portion of our territory.

 16 years was long enough for PDP to revolutionise agriculture and turn Nigeria into an exporter of agriculture products but failed to do so, instead, Nigeria continued to be a major importer of rice, poultry product, maize, fish, wheat, sorghum etc. Also under PDP 16 year rule, Nigeria lost its leading position as producer of cocoa and cashew. Cotton production stopped and our textile factories closed down across the country.

 Under PDP 16 year rule, our forest resources which could have been channelled for wealth and job creation through the exploitation of the forest product value chain were left to be plundered by the Chinese and Indians who exported the timber as logs and paid peanuts to government and corrupt government officials.

 PDP FG, basking in the euphoria of low FX rate encouraged the importation of goods including food as against export. Nigeria imported everything from toothpicks to fish and exported only crude oil.

 There were adequate opportunities for PDP to invest in soft infrastructure including Human Capital Development through collaboration with the State Governments but failed woefully to do so.

 PDP in its 16 years in power failed to strengthen the Local Government System for the benefit of the grassroots, instead encouraged the State Governors to hijack funds meant for the Local Government thus destroying the Local Government as the government of the grassroots.

 High income from crude oil over the 16 years of PDP rule gave the Party the opportunity to adequately fund the Nigeria Armed Forces for internal and external security of this country but PDP corruptly diverted funds voted for Armed Forces for other personal uses and the Armed Forces were not adequately equipped to do their job and this became evident as the Boko Haram insurgency were able to occupy a vast portion of Nigeria territory in the North East with ease.

Another General Election is a few days away and PDP is telling us not to look at yesterday, that we should not look at what brought the country sorrow, tears and blood. PDP wants us to forget our 16 years of uninterrupted democracy (first time in the history of the country) and the squandered opportunities. PDP wants us to block this period of waste, and a period of looting of our commonwealth from our memory. PDP wants to come back to ‘make Nigeria work again’.

Did PDP make Nigeria work in those 16 years of uninterrupted plenty and abundant opportunities? In 16 years, what foundation did the PDP lay for economic growth and prosperity? What legacy can we attribute to PDP 16 year in power? A legacy of making Nigeria work or a legacy of looting Nigeria?

You decide!!

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