The Presidency has strongly rebuffed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar’s criticisms of the Tinubu administration’s economic policies, calling the opposition leader’s interventions “uninformed and pedestrian”.
A statement by the special adviser information and strategy to the president, Bayo Onanuga, on Sunday, said Atiku has failed to offer substantive alternatives beyond the reforms already being implemented by President Bola Tinubu.
“Atiku’s latest diatribe was another uncharitable commentary on the state of the economy and the efforts of the President Bola Tinubu administration in remoulding it for sustained prosperity,” he said.
The presidency pointed out that during the election, Atiku’s only major difference with Tinubu on economic policy was on privatising national assets, which the presidency alleged would have only benefitted Atiku’s friends.
Defending its reforms, the presidency said short-term pain was inevitable to fix the “grim economic reality” inherited from previous administrations.
However, the presidency expressed confidence that the current policies will lead to long-term prosperity.
“Instead of mouthing platitudes, Alhaji Atiku should tell Nigerians what he would have done better if elected president,” he challenged.
Onanuga dismissed Atiku as an ineffective opposition leader attempting cheap political points rather than substantive engagement on policy.
Despite Atiku’s criticisms, the presidency affirmed that it will continue implementing President Tinubu’s economic policiesl
He defended the government’s decision to end fuel subsidies and harmonise exchange rates, arguing that the necessary reforms will boost Nigeria’s economy in the long run.
Onanuga also rejected Atiku’s claim that multinational companies were leaving Nigeria “in droves,” countering that investors have responded positively to the administration’s fiscal and monetary policies.
As evidence, the statement cited the strong performance of the Nigerian Stock Exchange under Tinubu.
He said, “Nigerians can easily see through the hypocrisy of Alhaji Atiku, who in accusing President Tinubu of poor response to the nation’s challenges and causing pains and despair, didn’t offer any better policy options in his run for the Presidency different from the economic reform agenda being pursued by President Tinubu.
“All the major candidates agreed that the fuel subsidy regime, which had become an albatross on the economy, must end. They all agreed that the multiple exchange rates must be fixed. Where President Tinubu and Atiku differed was in selling NNPC Limited and other national assets. Atiku went for this so he could sell these important national assets to his friends and cronies.
“President Tinubu removed the subsidy from Day One and announced moves to harmonise the exchange rates. Since then, he and his economic team have been working vigorously to harmonise the rates and also end the rampant and criminal arbitrage that the multiple windows allowed.
“President Tinubu acknowledged, on different occasions, that the reforms his government is implementing will cause immediate pains, but will usher in an era of prosperity in the medium and long terms.
“Minus Atiku, reputable local and international agencies who understand the situation the Tinubu administration found itself have commended the administration, having seen a policy trajectory that is clearly positive, realistic and sustainable.
“Atiku’s claims that the private sector is shrinking and that multinational companies are leaving our companies in ‘droves’ are not grounded on facts.
“His claim that the government’s policies have created intense cost of living pressures are also not grounded on facts as recent comparative cost of living indices show that Nigerians still enjoy the lowest cost of living in Africa.
“Confronted with this grim economic reality,Onanuga said President Tinubu faced a difficult choice of balancing the political and economic costs of reforms against the risks of economic recession.”
According to him, his government chose the former, to keep the economy afloat and set it back on the path of growth and prosperity.
He said President Tinubu was focused on solving our economic and security challenges adding that the fiscal and monetary policies his administration is pursuing are delivering unprecedented value to investors on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
“Nigerian Stock Exchange is outperforming others in the world and is now the best, not based on bubble, but record profits by many listed companies.
“The administration has also embarked on comprehensive fiscal and tax policy reform that will drive speedy recovery and spur economic growth.
“Nigerians and the global investment communities trust the ability and competence of President Tinubu to deliver progress and shared prosperity.
“While President Tinubu and his able team are working very hard to make our country better, ensure our economy is stronger and more competitive, Atiku Abubakar and his cohorts may continue to belly ache.
“However, they cannot stop the serious work of nation-building already set in motion by President Tinubu,” he added.