​The Senior Special Assistant to President

Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity,

Garba Shehu in response to the rising criticism

of the manner in which the president is handling

the nation’s economy has said that the critics

were unfair to “commendable job” the president

has done in security, corruption, and rescuing the

country from “economic slide”.

He made this known in a statement he posted on

his Facebook Page on Saturday.

The President’s spokesman said that Buhari is

creating a positive buzz in the international

scene which can lead to foreign investments.

He added that President Buhari should be

commended for “the unblemished record of his

ministers”, adding that his (Buhari) government

has stayed scandal-free since the beginning of

his administration.

He said projects such as the Second Niger

bridge, the East-West expressway, the green field

Lagos-Abuja expressway, the Lagos-Calabar and

Lagos-Kano railway lines, and the 4,000MW

Mambila Power plant will be counted among the

achievements of this administration.

Read his statement below:

The last couple of weeks have

witnessed the heaviest public

criticism of the Muhammadu Buhari

administration since he came to

power after inflicting a heavy defeat

on the Peoples Democratic Party and

their candidate Dr. Goodluck Ebele

Jonathan. Much of it has been on

account of the unresolved social and

economic problems facing the

country.

Unfair criticism of the Buhari

administration especially on account

of escalating prices of foodstuff and

the liberalization of the currency

exchange needs to be challenged

before it overshadows the

commendable job the President has

done in fighting terrorism as part of

overall effort to secure the country,

reducing corruption and yes,

arresting the economic slide before

it sinks the the nation.

The Hausa have a saying: “Ba zomo

na kashe ba, rataya a ka bani,”

meaning literally “I killed no rabbit, I

am helping to carry the prey.”

Wherever they go these days, in

London, Dubai, Beijing, Washington,

New York or Tokyo, Nigerians get

the good feeling of being asked the

question, how is President

Muhammadu Buhari?

It is a proud moment for many

citizens that the country is being

perceived differently now that it has

a different kind of leader creating a

positive buzz abroad, the kind of

sentiment that can lead to foreign

investments when properly

capitalized upon.

The lavish praise the President gets

abroad and the wide public support

he enjoys among the lower segment

of the local population is, by

contrast, given a short shrift in the

local press, mainstream and online.

At its lowest point, this

unambiguous media rebuke has

created a wave of sympathy for

anyone with a view that runs counter

to the President’s.

Boko Haram terrorist leader, Shekau

or the pipeline vandal from the Delta

region is more likely to get

newspaper front pages today than

the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris

Ngige or the Finance Minister Kemi

Adeosun talking about jobs creation

in the economy.

I don’t say that media criticism is

not reflective of the feeling of the

citizens.

President Buhari has himself on

numerous occasions admitted that

the change mantra has brought with

it pain and suffering which he

likened to the pains of labor. It is a

passing phase.

When they ask the question, is this

the change we voted for, the critics

forget how far we have come from

the scam-tainted years of the PDP

rule.

How many people have given a

thought to the possibility of Nigeria

doing something that the combined

strength of Europe and America have

failed to do?

There are many today who take for

granted the declared victory over the

Boko Haram terrorists, forgetting the

reign of the bomber who made it

almost impossible for regular

attendance in Churches and

Mosques in many of our cities,

including the Federal Capital City,

Abuja.

Victory over Boko Haram has

brought peace not only to Nigeria

but to the countries in the Lake Chad

region.

The world leaders are still at work

trying to contain the Islamic State in

Syria and Iraq, ISIS, which threat

sadly continues to become more

potent.

Everyone living in Nigeria knows that

there is a major movement against

corruption as part of the ongoing

change. This war has forced the

return to the treasury of billions of

Naira and millions of Dollars stolen

by past officials.

On account of this war, government

suspects that the biggest trigger of

the opposition to the change agenda

is the army of the corrupt. With the

enormous resources at their

disposal; money that is unearned,

these forces are ready to throw in

everything to gag the Buhari

administration.

When he assumed office, President

Buhari said he understood the outcry

of Nigerians and was determined to

right those wrongs. I will remind you

of his inaugural speech where he

said: “At home we face enormous

challenges. Insecurity, pervasive

corruption, the hitherto unending

and seemingly impossible fuel and

power shortages are the immediate

concerns. We are going to tackle

them head on. Nigerians will not

regret that they have entrusted

national responsibility to us. We

must not succumb to hopelessness

and defeatism. We can fix our

problems.”(Emphasis added).

He has said times without number

that his government is dedicated to

the poor. As can be seen from the

2016 budget, this is a government

that is determined to hugely

empower the disadvantaged groups-

the poor, the jobless, the widows

and the orphaned children including

those of the North-East.

As a listening government, the

President was prepared to open the

door to additional food imports but

given the processes involved, the

turn around in any such import of

commodities would have taken a

long time as to coincide with the

harvest of homegrown grains and

cereals now in progress. The market

would have been deluged and the

local grower given the short end of

the stick.

Calls on Hausa radio by a rabble-

rousing section of the opposition for

the “reopening of borders” to “allow

food come in” are redundant and

mischievous because all the

county’s borders remain open till

date.

Following the budget, the

administration has begun rolling out

several social welfare programs. The

direct cash transfer to the poorest of

the poor, the school feeding and the

recruitment/skills training of about

one million jobless citizens are such

an example.

In addition to hard work, all leaders

need luck on their side to create

what is sometimes seen as

economic miracles. As leader,

President Buhari never had the

luxury of high oil prices as did his

predecessors in office.

When he first emerged as the

military Head of State, General

Muhammadu Buhari saw oil price,

the mainstay of the nation’s

economy sank to as low eight

Dollars a barrel.

He rolled up his sleeves, worked on

diversification strategy of the

economy only to be eased out of

power just as they began to take

hold. Thereafter, his successors

abandoned these efforts.

On his second coming, this time as

a democratically elected leader, the

collapse of oil prices has challenged

President Buhari to quicken efforts

towards the diversification of the

economy with emphasis given to

agriculture and solid minerals

mining. Every crisis, it is said, is an

opportunity. Not so in Nigeria. This

is a county that inherited massive

technological inventions from Biafra,

yet failed to take it forward. We must

not lose this opportunity to diversify

the economy and our foreign

earnings presented by the present

oil crisis.

As the country hopes for a bumper

harvest this year, government is

taking steps to ensure that no

farmer will sell at a loss or fail to

find markets for their harvests. Grain

silos are being readied nationwide to

receive excess produce for

warehousing to ensure food security,

avert market glut and price collapse.

By this, government will ensure a

minimum guaranteed price.

In dealing with challenges of the

economy, the administration is

devoting attention to ridding the

country of its notoriety as a difficult

place of doing business.

The government has been making

quiet but significant progress in this

area, thanks to the leadership given

by the National Economic Council

under the Vice President and the

combined efforts of the Ministries of

Trade and Investment, Finance,

Interior, Foreign Affairs, Budget and

Planning and the Customs under

new leadership.

Everyone in this sector is doing

everything in their power to boost up

Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s

infrastructure initiatives will see

country making progress with

intractable projects such as the

Second Niger bridge, the East-West

expressway, the green field Lagos-

Abuja expressway and important

national railway projects, Lagos-

Calabar and Lagos-Kano which had

been on the drawing boards for as

long as anyone can remember.

These projects will be counted

among the accomplishments of the

administration alongside the 4,000

MW Mambila power plant which the

President has declared a national

priority. Government has also taken

several bold steps to boost

renewable energy. It has opened the

door for a new conversation on the

environment with decisive steps

towards the clean-up the Ogoniland

in the Niger Delta.

The currency liberalization and the

deregulation of the petroleum

products sale will make President

Buhari one of the best presidents till

date. The removal of subsidies on

the petrol products has saved the

government more than two trillion

Naira annual expenditure in this

respect.

President Buhari’s foreign trips have

brought many things to the country.

He has energized our foreign policy.

Beyond the enormous goodwill

reaped from “resetting” age-old but

damaged relations with neighbors

and distant partners and friends, the

President has attracted foreign

development assistance and direct

investments (FDI). It is generally

accepted that good foreign relations

bring foreign direct investment. So

much is currently being done one

year into the administration. This is

in spite of the world economy being

sluggish and recession-stricken.

It bears repeating that the President

is a different kind of leader, who just

happens to be a victim of the

tyranny of high expectations. He has

brought positive intention,

commitment, honesty and personal

integrity into governance. This is

why the country’s poor hold him so

dear; this is why the world is in love

with him.

His knack for prudent spending and

effective management of resources

is in the belief that this country can

only prosper when there is

transparency, reduced corruption

and a drastic cut in bureaucratic red

tape.

His decision to have a small cabinet,

reducing government ministries from

46 to 24 has the effect of relieving

the treasury of the burden of

salaries, allowances and

miscellaneous expenses now being

counted in billions of Naira.

President Buhari should be credited

for the unblemished record of his

ministers. This is a government that

has stayed above scandal for a year.

If all of these are not desirable

changes, to be appreciated and

adored, it is hard to know or

determine what some of our critics

want.

These reforms certainly represent

major milestones in change which

have led to a decline of corruption at

the top.

As to the question of these leading

to a resurgent economy, it all means

that in a democracy everything takes

times. The President needs our

support with understanding and

patience. No matter how hasty a

president wants to bring changes,

there is no magic wand in that office

to make everything change from bad

to good or make all of us

prosperous with a wave of the hand.

This change is on course. It

requires patience.

The change is working for the nation

and sooner than later, the testimony

shall be given.

Cull from http://www.bellanaija.com

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