President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday insisted that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must explain to Nigerians how it managed the huge resources that accrued to the country from oil sales between 1999 and 2014.
To Labour leaders who came to congratulate him on his electoral victory at the State House, Abuja, the President recounted how his administration inherited a dilapidated infrastructure in 2015, calling to question what the party that held the forte for 16 years did with oil revenue, which peaked under its watch.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President said: “PDP has not successfully explained to the country what they did with the money.
“There were no roads, no rail, no power; they said they spent $16 billion on power, but where is the power?
“The irresponsible expenditure of that period has not been explained, and Nigerians deserve an answer on that terrible mismanagement of the country.”
For Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections, President Buhari said that Nigeria cannot afford to go back to the era of violence and mayhem.
He called on Nigerians to avoid anything that could disrupt the election.
Recalling the negotiations that led to the approval of the N30, 000 minimum wage, the President said he had to ask Labour Minister Chris Ngige to remind the workers what his administration met and what it had achieved with minimal resources.
He said: “During your negotiation with the minister of labour and when he briefed us in council on N30, 000 minimum wage. I gave an analogy of a mad woman, who went to fetch firewood but then she realised it was to heavy for her to carry, instead of reducing it, she added more.
“I said, we are struggling to survive as a nation. You (workers) knew what this country was earnings between 2009 and 2015, you knew the state of infrastructure when we came in, God gave them 16 years of unprecedented earnings. Multiply 2.1 million by $100 by 16 years.
“I don’t think the PDP has been been able to successfully explain to Nigerians what they did with that money. Because some of the roads especially the main ones, from here to Onitsha, from here to Port Harcourt since PTF days not to talk of new ones…monies they earned from petroleum in 16 years.
“You know the rail was virtually gone. And power, I asked where is the power? They spent $16 billion on power and Nigerians are asking, where is the power? It was unprecedented, irresponsible expenditure. Most of you are unanswerable to Nigerians, I appealed to you through our mutual friend, the minister of Labour to tell you where we found the country, where we are, and what we have been able to do with the resources available to us.
“Oil Production from 2.1 million barrels per day went down to half a million. The militants were unleashed on this administration, and yet as confirmed by your leader, we had to ensure pensioners who were dying to collect their entitlements. So really, there were terrible management of this country in last 16 years and we are just trying to make up.
“We cannot succeed without your cooperation. I appreciate the pressure you are under from your respective constituencies, most especially if you have to submit yourself for elections, you have to prove to your members that you are with them rather than with the government and we understand.”
Buhari thanked organised Labour “for the support and patriotism you have shown during the presidential election, especially after the unexpected postponement.
“You and your members stepped in to support willing Nigerians to exercise their civic and patriotic rights to vote. You intervened as patriots, and not for political, religious or tribal purposes. You simply did the right thing during a difficult period for many of us.
“As a result of what you did, many citizens were able to travel and vote. I am also aware that many of your members were very active in voters education and promotion of peaceful elections in your various communities, thankfully, the presidential elections were conducted peacefully in most parts of the country.
“As we go to the polls this weekend, my prayer is that we also conduct elections in a non-violent manner.”
Buhari also thanked Nigerians for giving him another four years adding: “We will remain focused on our promises which remains security, economy and fighting corruption. I want to assure you that the next four years will be peaceful, prosperous and corruption free. I therefore look forward to receiving your proposals so that together we can achieve these goals.”
On what Nigerians can look forward to in the next lap of the journey, President Buhari promised to trudge ahead with his party’s Change Agenda.
“We’ll remain focused on our core pillars of security, economy, and fight against corruption.”
He urged organised Labour to partner with the government to make the country peaceful, prosperous, and corruption free.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Comrade Ayuba Wabba lauded the President for being worker-friendly, as exemplified in the granting of bailout funds to state governments to pay backlog of salaries and pensions.
He said: “We all remember the special bailout and budget support you introduced to support state governments during the recession. Your directive during this intervention was that state governments must offset accumulated arrears of salaries and pension liabilities.
“I remember you publicly asked state governors, ‘how do you manage to sleep at night when the salaries of workers in your state are not paid?’
“For us, that was one of the finest moments we have had with any President in this country…I can stand here today and say your intervention was the difference between life and death for many workers,” he added.
“We urge that in this your second term in office, you should continue to make the Nigerian people especially the Nigerian poor the centerpiece of your policy initiatives and actions.”
Wabba urged the National Assembly to pass the National Minimum Wage Act in earnest, while also asking the President to thereafter sign it into law within the shortest possible time.