Outspoken APC chieftain and Minister of Information has assured Nigerians that the change they voted for is real and good life awaits all citizens once the planning stage is over.
Lai Mohammed on Channels
Speaking in an interview during Channels Television programme, ‘Sunday Politics’, yesterday, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, assured Nigerians that the change they voted for is real and good life awaits all citizens once the planning stage is over.
He said that he was aware that many Nigerians are already doubting the APC’s promise of ‘change’ but the 2016 budget is a statement that clearly explains the Nigerian government’s economic direction and plan for the citizens.
Speaking on the economic policies of the Buhari-led administration, he explained that 40% of all expenditure in the budget has been dedicated to capital projects which are roads, power, railroads and other infrastructure.
“If you look at our budget for 2016, this is the first time in Nigeria that the government has gone for what I call an inclusive budget. This is where everybody is taken care of.
“Before now, you do not see this social inclusion in our budget. You have small pockets of alleviation of poverty here and there but for the first time the government is taking a bold step to set aside the sum of 500 billion Naira for social intervention.”
As more Nigerians continue to question the rationale behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s trips abroad, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said Nigeria does not have an option for now as the government needs to rejig the economy, adding that the revenue of the country has dropped significantly and rejigging the economy can only be done through help from other nations.
“There is no way, in the situation we have found ourselves, that we will not run a deficit budget. When your income is not enough to cover your expenditure, you borrow but what is important is what you do with the money you borrowed.
“Whatever money we borrow today is not going to be used for recurrent expenditure. It is going to be invested in railroads, roads, power, providing infrastructure for agriculture and solid minerals.”
Although he would not state specifically how much the President would be hoping to borrow from China, he said that the country had a deficit of about two to three trillion Naira, explaining further that if Nigeria had been able to generate enough income the APC government would not have considered borrowing.
“What do you expect us to do? When we were earning 100 dollar per barrel, we had the same workforce as today when we are earning 40 dollars per barrel. When we had 100 dollars per barrel we had the same overhead as we have today and we still have to maintain the same infrastructure and still improve on it. Of course there is no other way than borrowing.”
The Minister also had some words of appreciation and encouragement for Nigerians who have had to endure weeks of hardship due to the fuel scarcity across the states and empathized with Nigerians on the pains they have gone through over the last one month as federal authorities are doing everything within their powers to normalize the situation.
“I have said it on many fora that the government is keenly aware of the hardship and difficulties Nigerians have gone through in the last couple of weeks and we do empathize with them.
“Not only do we empathize with them but we appreciate their perseverance and we have also been working round the clock to ensure that we are able to bring the situation back to normal,” he said, adding that the efforts have paid off as the fuel situation was gradually being normalized with cargoes of refined product being discharged in major cities across the country.