The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has challenged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to prove Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola wrong by showcasing one major infrastructure landmark it put in place between 1999 and 2015.
The group said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that the Minister’s recent speech at the Lagos Business School (LBS) is a clear indicator of the difference between the former ruling party and the All Progressives Congress ( APC)
“It is almost one week after Works Minister Babatunde Fashola delivered a speech titled “Inclusiveness, Sustainable Growth and Development” at the LBS which we assumed that PDP leaders may not have seen because they have been too engrossed in the survival battle in their party.
“So we are constrained to draw attention to key points in the speech of the former Lagos State Governor which centred largely around what the former ruling party did, or failed to do, between 1999 and 2015 when oil prices were quite high.
“Fashola was emphatic in saying that ‘between 1999 and 2015, all the infrastructure we are talking about today were crying for attention. In spite of prolific oil revenue in that period, I ask anyone to show one bridge, major highway, airport or a rail project that our country built’
“That was a challenge the Minister threw at his audience on September 29 and anyone who might have been misled to rate PDP high, but we have now opted to deliver that challenge to the former ruling party which had three administrations in place within that period, to prove Fashola wrong.
“But without being bashful, we make bold to say that all PDP have to show for it is a national debt stock of $63bn, out of which $10.3bn were external loans, and several uncompleted or abandoned projects, like the $480m CCTV project.
“Yes, the Buhari administration has added about $24bn to the debt stock as a result of limited resources, but it is crystal clear that the loans are tied to infrastructure that could have been easily built either in the Obasanjo years or between 2010 and 2015 when Nigeria made $381.9bn from crude oil sales alone.
“It would also be great to remind Nigerians of a key point that Fashola has been making in recent times; ‘in 2005 we choose to pay $12.09 billion to negotiate a Paris debt forgiveness when there was infrastructure crying out for attention”.
BMO also used the opportunity to buttress the Minister’s position on the difference between APC and PDP.
“Like many Nigerians, we are also aware that some people have, at one time or the other, said there is no difference between the two parties, but we are insisting that this is definitely not true.
“For starters, while PDP governments borrowed for consumption and for frivolities, the APC government opted to borrow to build infrastructure rather than increase the tax burden on Nigerians, especially in the aftermath of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“We also want to make reference to an example cited by Minister Fashola in the LBS speech from two recent comments; one by PDP’s Vice Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar in the last election and the other by President Buhari.
“Whereas Mr Obi said a few weeks ago that ‘You cannot use infrastructure to drive economic growth…taking people out of poverty is not magic’, the President was empathic during his recent visit to Imo state that ‘If we fix infrastructure, people will get on with their businesses.’
“So as insignificant as this point might sound, it captures the general mindset of the two parties towards infrastructural development, which is why on the watch of President Buhari, over 13,000 kilometres of roads and bridges are either under construction or rehabilitation nationwide.
“This is aside projects like Bodo-Bonny Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Expressway and Second Niger Bridge, which are now underway and heading towards completion before 2023. There is also the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas project to revive moribund industries on that axis.
“We also need to remind people who think PDP and APC are the same that a new generation of Nigerians are now able to travel by rail from Lagos to Ibadan, Itakpe to Warri and Abuja to Kaduna, unlike when the nation’s railway network was in a comatose state, almost throughout the 16 years of PDP”.
The group reassured Nigerians that the Buhari administration will continue to provide the necessary environment for businesses to thrive by providing world-class infrastructure.