Professor Pat Utomi’s romanticisation of the last four years of the People’s Democratic Party in power is not only bemusing but an adroit attempt to twist reality to serve his manipulative intentions, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has said.
“You cannot have it both ways, Professor,” the group challenged him in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke. “You must decide if you want to be taken seriously as an unbiased, facts-and-figure driven commentator or the malleable type pursuing a personal agenda.
“As a claimed ‘academic’, unlike the ill-informed, rabble-rousing so-called ‘critics’, we thought that Professor Utomi in his declaration that ‘Nigeria under President Buhari is the poverty capital of the world’ would put this pastime reference in context but, of course, his preference is to stand truth on its head. Expected of critics with his mindset, in the least, is to analyse issues in their proper context.
“The truth is that the population of the extreme poor in Nigeria at this time, either by a percentage of population consideration or headcount, is less than the figures obtained at any time in the 16 years of the PDP governments up to 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari took over the reign of presidential powers”.
The group said that in 2010, 60.9 per cent (99,284,512) Nigerians were living in absolute poverty in a population of 158.5 million, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). “This distressing figure increased to 112.47 million extremely poor people in 2012 in a population of 163million people.
“The figure reduced marginally to 108.66million extremely poor people in a population of 181.1million people in 2015. So, by facts and figures, Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s legacy to Nigerians, which President Buhari inherited, was extremely poor Nigerians numbering up to 108.66 million, about 60 per cent of the total population in that particular year. All these at a time when oil price averaged $120 per barrel.
“Those morbid figures of Nigeria’s extremely poor started changing in 2017 largely because of the deployment and applications of well-thought-out and framed pro-poor policies. By the same NBS figures, the number of extremely poor Nigerians had reduced to 40 per cent of the population, 83 million people in an estimated population of 203million. We challenge Prof. Utomi to provide figures that contradict our submission here”.
BMO emphasised Nigeria is not the poverty capital of the world, “at least, not on the watch of President Buhari.
“It is unfortunate that thought leaders in Nigeria find pleasure in trending towards perverting reality to overlay it with their self-serving, often, fraudulent intentioned point of view. While other poor countries of the world were doing so much over the years, Nigerian elites, inclusive of the likes of Prof. Utomi, were seated at a table relishing the booties of power to the detriment of the larger population of the country.
“It is obvious that despite huge sums of revenues that accrued to the Federal Government between 2001 and 2015, the incumbent governments during those years merely waved off any serious attempts to address the challenges of poverty that had permeated the country. It was not until President Buhari’s coming that the Federal Government started addressing issues and challenges of extreme poverty.
“It is not surprising that Prof. Utomi is lately celebratory of the PDP era in government. We recall he was a major participant in the Federal Government of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) between 1979 and 1983; that party shared common characteristics with the PDP in profligacy, brazen corruption, and prodigious exhibition of irresponsibility in public office.
“It was during those four years of the NPN that Nigeria ratcheted up an external debt of $17.5billion within a four-year period ending 1983 from a lowly $6.2billion in 1979. By the time the NPN was booted out of government on new year’s eve 1984, there was absolutely nothing in infrastructural investments to reference as legacy project (s). This same Prof. Utomi was a prominent member of that government as a Special Assistant (Political Affairs) to the President.
“As an intellectually oriented critic, we wonder how Prof. Utomi followed the crowd of the bile-filled and ill-informed critics to continue to propagate the falsehood of debts secured by the President Buhari’s administration when the fact is that; of the possible $74billion Federal Government acquired debts as of September 2020, the PDP governments, between 1999 and 2015, after paying an arranged debt relief of $18billion for a $30billion accumulated loan and up to $960billion revenue, the PDP-led federal government still racked up more than $55billion total debts on leaving government in 2015, without, nothing of substance to show for the debts..
“This is unlike the Buhari administration where every kobo is accounted for with massive infrastructural projects to show. This cannot be said, however, of the PDP-led federal governments.
The BMO called on Nigerians to be wary of “the sanctimonious pontifications of people like Prof. Utomi. Most often, it is to serve purposes that are not absolutely altruistic”, the statement added.