On Sunday, the Presidency and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar exchanged words about the status of the Nigerian economy and President Bola Tinubu’s monetary policies.
In a post on X (previously Twitter), Atiku, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s 2023 presidential contender, stated that there is hunger in the land as basic necessities, like as bread, become out of reach for normal Nigerians.
However, in a swift response, Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, stated that Atiku has embarked on a mission as a poor opposition-in-chief, noting that the Tinubu government’s reforms will cause immediate pains but usher in a period of prosperity in the medium and long term.
Atiku blamed the economic challenges in the country on the “poor policies” of Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate and the eventual winner of the last poll.
“Tinubu’s poor response to Nigeria’s economic challenges is setting the stage for a prolonged and deeper domestic economic crisis,” the ex-VP said.
“His economic policies, drawn from a so-called renewed hope agenda, are ironically dashing hopes, creating pain and causing despair.
“The private sector is shrinking by the day as small businesses are emasculated and as Multi-National Companies, confused and weary of the economy, leave Nigeria in droves. The intense cost of living pressures has created more misery for the poor in towns and villages.”
Atiku also criticised the 2024 N28. 7trn maiden budget of Tinubu, saying it is “bereft of concrete ideas and actions that would support Nigeria’s journey toward economic transformation”.
The opposition leader said Tinubu has “no capacity to deal with the adverse and disastrous impact of the new subsidy regime on the people and businesses and the new foreign exchange policy, which provides for a free-floating exchange rate. His initiatives are literally uninformed, arbitrary, and chaotic”.
Atiku said Tinubu came into office unprepared and his men have found a pastime blaming the economic woes of the country on the previous governments.
“Tinubu and his economic management team must swallow their pride, admit their missteps and failures, and follow those who know the terrain. They must act fast before the economy sinks deeper into the abyss,” he said.
‘Atiku’s Bellyache Can’t Stop Tinubu’
On his part, Onanuga, in a statement, said, “Nigerians can easily see through the hypocrisy of Alhaji Atiku, who in accusing President Tinubu of poor response to the nation’s challenges and causing pains and despair, didn’t offer any better policy options in his run for the Presidency different from the economic reform agenda being pursued by President Tinubu.
He said having removed petrol subsidy on the day he was inaugurated on May 29, 2023, and later harmonised the exchange rates, the President and his economic team have been “working vigorously to harmonise the rates and also end the rampant and criminal arbitrage that the multiple windows allowed”.
“President Tinubu acknowledged, on different occasions, that the reforms his government is implementing will cause immediate pains, but will usher in an era of prosperity in the medium and long terms,” the presidential aide noted.
“Atiku’s claims that the private sector is shrinking and that multinational companies are leaving our companies in ‘droves’ are not grounded on facts.
“His claim that the government’s policies have created intense cost of living pressures are also not grounded on facts as recent comparative cost of living indices show that Nigerians still enjoy the lowest cost of living in Africa.
“Atiku should be honest enough to admit that President Tinubu inherited a weak economy, which to all intents and purposes and to ensure the survival of our country needs a complete overhaul.
“The economy was plagued by decades of significant fiscal deficits, a low revenue base, high external and domestic debts, and huge debt service burden,” the statement added.
The presidential aide said his principal has been focused on solving Nigeria’s economic and security challenges and has embarked on fiscal and tax policy reforms that will drive speedy recovery and spur economic growth.
“While President Tinubu and his able team are working very hard to make our country better, ensure our economy is stronger and more competitive, Atiku Abubakar and his cohorts may continue to belly ache. However, they cannot stop the serious work of nation-building already set in motion by President Tinubu,” Onanuga said.