The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has challenged the opposition to a series of public debates on issues of national development and project inspection, to compare achievements, instead of engaging in unconstructive criticism on the pages of newspapers.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said, “President Goodluck Jonathan’s Democracy Day address to the nation had chronicled the giant strides taken by the PDP led government in all sectors of the nation’s life. But while the President is doing all that is humanly possible to ensure stability within the polity, the opposition leaders are constantly sowing seeds of discord.”
In a press statement distributed yesterday, Metuh argued that “Despite the opposition’s antagonism towards the PDP, the entire world has acknowledged that our democracy is now stable, strong and firm; and its future is bright. Yet in their desperation and desire to destroy the reputation of the PDP, some leaders of the opposition parties are turning into prophets of doom, promising us brim stone and fire if they fail in their quest to acquire power. We will not allow them to derail our democracy. As President Jonathan said in his May 29thaddress, “we will not treat the success we have recorded with our democratic experience with levity.”
Metuh said “We challenge the opposition to rise beyond name calling to a submission of alternative solutions which is an essential role for the opposition as a shadow government. Let the opposition take us to task on perceived points of deficiency with brilliant alternatives and demonstrate to Nigerians that their ultimate goal is to contribute towards the growth of the country rather than the pursuit of a sinister agenda.”
“No sincere Nigerian can deny that when President Jonathan assumed office last year, there were fears about political and economic instability in the nation. But through a set of priority policies, programmes, and projects encapsulated in PDP’s Transformation Agenda, today Nigeria’s economic and political ratings are very positive.”
The ruling party’s spokesman added that “the commitment of the PDP led administration to the transformation of all sectors of Nigerian economy remains strong and unwavering. The opposition may choose to ignore the giant strides we are making, through our transformation agenda, in the power supply, oil and gas, agriculture, education, ports and customs reforms, anti-corruption crusade, public transport system, roads network, aviation and many others; but they cannot prevent the public from seeing the results that are manifesting.”
Reiterating what the President said on the Democracy Day, the PDP said, “As President Jonathan reported to the nation, our economy grew by 7.45% in 2011. As at mid-May 2012, our foreign exchange reserves had risen to $37.02 billion, the highest level in 21 months. We have stabilized and improved our fiscal regime. We brought the fiscal deficit down to 2. 85% of GDP from 2.9% in 2011. We reduced recurrent expenditures from 74% to 71% and reduced domestic borrowing from N852 billion in 2011 to N744 billion in 2012. We cut out over N100 billion of non-essential expenditure and increased our internally generated revenue from N200 billion to N467 billion. We have also generated over N6.6trillion worth of investment commitments.”
Expatiating on the achievements made in some of the sectors mentioned above, especially those that have direct impact on the life of the common man, Chief Metuh said, “One of the sectors that the PDP government has taken as top priority is the power sector. We have finished the repair of all our power plants. We are accelerating the completion of the National Integrated Power Projects. By mid 2010, the national power output was about 2, 800 MW. By the end of 2011, we reached a peak of more than 4, 000 MW. We are also building about 4000km of transmission lines and hundreds of sub stations. We have completed the design for the construction of both Mambila and Zungeru Hydro power plants which will add about 3, 000 MW to the national grid.”
“On oil and gas, the PDP government has improved the capacity utilization of existing domestic refineries from 30 to 60 percent. Already the Jonathan administration has commenced the phased plan to return the refineries to 90 percent capacity utilization with the expected completion of the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery by the end of 2012, to be followed by Warri and Kaduna refineries in 2013. The government has also made significant progress in gas infrastructure development, investing close to US$1bn for the construction of some 1000km of pipelines, gas supply growth and stimulation of gas industrialization. This Gas Revolution initiative is expected to fully support and sustain domestic power, create over a million jobs and attract over US$16 billion in Foreign Direct Investment, thus making Nigeria, Africa’s largest gas based industrial park.”
On agriculture, PDP noted that the newly inaugurated Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council by President Jonathan was an initiative aimed at providing the appropriate infrastructure to support all-year round farming through irrigation which will add 20 million metric tons of food to the nation’s domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 million jobs.
Chief Metuh charged that “These and many other achievements are what we expect any credible opposition to take us up on; not insincere, unfounded and myopic propaganda. Therefore rather than waste further time with unconstructive criticisms, we challenge them to a public debate and projects inspection to compare our achievements with theirs in the states under their care.”