Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, says officials hired to communicate government policies have lived below expectation. Speaking on the efforts of the current administration to address the current economic crisis, Shehu suggested that there were loopholes in the process of marketing the Buhari government.
He explained that the federal government had not limited its economic and financial reform programmes to the centre alone, saying the current administration forced state governments to reform their spending in order to build savings and investments.
Shehu said the reform would include blockage of leakages that allowed government’s revenues to be siphoned into private hands.
“I will make the confession that we, the officials hired to communicate government policies, that includes myself, have not done as well as we should have,” he said in a statement.
“The truth is that more than any other time before, there is a clear direction and strategy for achieving growth and development.
“Revisionists may not agree, but the truth of the matter is that the previous administration only had one issue, which was how to spend money (oil revenues and borrowed money).”
He identified the ongoing probe into the finances of the military authorities as part of the reform aimed at checking corrupt practices in the military establishment.
“Look at what a civilian administration is today doing to the military, investigating their finance and accounts that the military could not do to themselves,” he said.
“See what the current administration is doing to sanitise the huge salary bill by eliminating payroll fraud. So far, the federal payroll has been rid of about 40,000 ghost workers. More than N8 billion stolen monthly has been saved. We are also saving on wasteful expenses like first class travel and private jets for official trips.
“Currently, there is focus on key sectors (apart from oil) that can create jobs and or generate revenue such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing.”
He said that if these things had been done when the oil price was as high as $140 dper barrel, Nigeria would not be in the current predicament.
“We would not be suffering now if we had cash reserves, but we had regular supply of power, a good rail system, good roads and good housing,” he said.
“Now that the oil has fallen as low as $28 per barrel, it is very difficult to do what is needed but they must be done to save Nigeria. There is no other way if we want to be honest.
“If PDP were still in power, they would have continued deceiving people, by borrowing to fund stealing and wastage and the problem would have simply been postponed for future generations to face.
“There are many who say that this government’s economic strategy is unclear whereas the previous government seemed well coordinated.”