The All Progressives Congress has welcomed opinions expressed by former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, suggesting measures to be adopted by the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu (retd.) to diversify Nigeria’s economy.
It, however, accused the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led administration in which Atiku served as vice-president for eight years, of failing to put into practice what Atiku was preaching.
This was contained in a statement signed by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in Abuja, on Saturday.
The party said it appreciated Atiku’s decision to key into Buhari regime’s policy direction in terms of diversifying the economy. But it said it was a bit surprised that he failed to acknowledge the regime’s bold efforts in this direction over the past five years.
Atiku had in a position paper titled, “How to pull Nigeria from the brink,” faulted some of the economic policies of the Buhari-led regime, describing the decision to close the nation’s borders with neighbouring African countries as “insane.”
In response to it, the APC said, “Atiku Abubakar had eight years as a powerful vice-president and chairman of the National Council on Privatisation with vantage opportunity to lead the country away from its dependence on oil.
“How Nigeria got worse even when international oil prices were stable and high are matters Atiku Abubakar may still need to address in the future.”
According to the statement, it is worrisome that it took Atiku 13 years after leaving office to realise that the government under which he served as the vice-president was short-sighted for its failure to faithfully diversify the Nigerian economy.
The APC said as far back as 2016, the Buhari regime took practical steps to diversify the nation’s economy, especially in its area of comparative advantage, which is agriculture.
Towards this end, it said the regime launched the Anchor Borrowers Programme, an intervention policy primarily aimed at giving farmers access to finance.
This, it explained, entails the provision of credit for financing the production of rice, wheat, ginger, maize and soybeans in many states of the federation, adding that the policy driven by the Central Bank of Nigeria had provided hundreds of billions of naira for rice farming, cultivation and milling in the last four years.
It said few years down the line, Nigeria is now rated the highest producer of rice in Africa, producing over seven million tonnes per annum.
The statement read in part, “Just late last year, the APC-led government, through the CBN, also made available huge funds to our cotton farmers, a move geared towards reviving our moribund textile factories, thereby creating millions of direct and indirect jobs.