Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Ex-minister tackles Amaechi over comment on funds left by Jonathan administration

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A former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, has replied the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, over the latter’s claim on the funds left in the country’s treasury by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Mr Amaechi in a recent interview on Channels Television said the money left behind for Nigeria by Mr Jonathan at the point of departure in 2015, was not enough to run the country for three weeks.

Mr Jonathan was president between May 2010 and May 2015 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He lost to the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, in the 2015 presidential election.

“By the time we came, they didn’t leave money behind that could last us for three weeks. And I was speaking at that time as the chairman of the governors’ forum,” Mr Amaechi had said.

But armed with facts and figures cross-checked by this newspaper, Mr Chidoka, who served under the Jonathan administration, in a post shared on Facebook, countered Mr Amaechi’s claim.

He described the comments of the serving minister as unfortunate, and by an extension, a falsehood often peddled by some members of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

The former minister dished out the amount of money Mr Jonathan left in the foreign reserve, Excess Crude Account, as well as other economic indices.
“I am confused about what the Honourable Minister means when he says ‘by the time we came in’ as he was not appointed minister until six months after the May 29 Handover. Since he was not a minister on the handover date, it may be pertinent to present him with the facts again.

“On May 29, 2015, President Buhari inherited a foreign reserve of $28.6 billion, according to official data still present on the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as $5.6 billion Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Limited dividends. Also, a 2015 budget of over 4 trillion Naira was handed over to the incoming administration by the outgoing Jonathan government.

“Furthermore, the Jonathan administration left a total of $2.2 billion in the Excess Crude Account on May 29, 2015. (As verified by the Ministry of Finance both by the immediate past minister and the incumbent),” Mr Chidoka explained.

The former aviation minister lamented Nigeria’s alarming debt profile and poverty rate, dwindling foreign investment as well as the quadruple unemployment rate.

He said while the inflation, poverty and unemployment rates were at single digits before Mr Jonathan’s exit in May 2015, the same economic indices are currently more than double under Mr Buhari-led government.

“Today, after 2,406 days of the current administration, the headline inflation rate hovers above 15%.

“Under President Jonathan, the unemployment rate stood at 7.5% (better than the European Union) today. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, six and half years after Governor Amaechi’s government came in, unemployment is 33%.

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