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The 'Entire World' Acknowledges Our 'Giant Strides,' PDP Challenges Opposition

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ABUJA, May 31, (THEWILL) - The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has challenged the opposition to intellectually oriented public debates on issues of national development and project inspection, to compare its achievements and “giant strides,” instead of engaging in destructive criticism on the pages of newspapers.

The party defended President Goodluck Jonathan’s Democracy Day address to the nation, claiming the speech chronicled the giant strides of the PDP-led federal government in all sectors of the nation, and lamenting that opposition leaders are constantly sowing seeds of discord while the president is doing all humanly possible to ensure stability within the polity.

“Despite the opposition’s antagonism towards the PDP, the entire world has acknowledged that our democracy is now stable, strong and firm; and its future is bright,” enthused a Thursday statement signed by national publicity secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh.

“Yet in their desperation and desire to destroy the reputation of the PDP, some leaders of the opposition parties are turning into prophets of doom, promising us brimstone and fire if they fail in their quest to acquire power. We will not allow them to derail our democracy. As President Jonathan said in his May 29th address, ‘we will not treat the success we have recorded with our democratic experience with levity.’”

On behalf of PDP, Metuh challenged the opposition to rise beyond name-calling to the level of submitting alternative solutions, which is an essential role for the opposition as a shadow government.

“Let the opposition take us to task on perceived points of deficiency with brilliant alternatives and demonstrate to Nigerians that their ultimate goal is to contribute towards the growth of the country rather than the pursuit of a sinister agenda,” he charged.

“No sincere Nigerian can deny that when President Jonathan assumed office last year, there were fears about political and economic instability in the nation. But through a set of priority policies, programmes, and projects encapsulated in PDP’s Transformation Agenda, today the country’s economic and political ratings are very positive.”

The ruling party’s spokesman described as “strong and unwavering” the administration’s commitment to the transformation of all sectors of the economy.

“The opposition may choose to ignore the giant strides we are making, through our transformation agenda, in the power supply, oil and gas, agriculture, education, ports and customs reforms, anti-corruption crusade, public transport system, roads network, aviation and many others, but they cannot prevent the public from seeing the results that are manifesting,” he said.

“As President Jonathan reported to the nation, our economy grew by 7.45 per cent in 2011. As at mid-May 2012, our foreign exchange reserves had risen to $37.02 billion, the highest level in 21 months. We have stabilised and improved our fiscal regime. We brought the fiscal deficit down to 2. 85 per cent of GDP from 2.9 per cent in 2011.

“We reduced recurrent expenditures from 74 per cent to 71 per cent, and reduced domestic borrowing from N852 billion in 2011 to N744 billion in 2012. We cut out over N100 billion of non-essential expenditure, and increased our internally generated revenue from N200 billion to N467 billion. We have also generated over N6.6trillion worth of investment commitments.”

Speaking further on the achievements made in the sectors mentioned above, Metuh identified the power sector as one of those that the government has taken as top priority. He said the repair of all our power plants had been completed, while the completion of the National Integrated Power Projects is being expedited.

He stated that the national power output that was about 2, 800 MW as at mid-2010 had reached a peak of more than 4, 000 MW by the end of 2011, while the building of about 4000km of transmission lines and hundreds of sub stations was on. He added that the design for the construction of both Mambila and Zungeru Hydro power plants, which will add about 3, 000 MW to the national grid, had been completed.

“On oil and gas, the PDP government has improved the capacity utilisation of existing domestic refineries from 30 to 60 per cent. Already the Jonathan administration has commenced the phased plan to return the refineries to 90 per cent capacity utilisation with the expected completion of the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery by the end of 2012, to be followed by Warri and Kaduna refineries in 2013.

“The government has also made significant progress in gas infrastructure development, investing close to US$1bn for the construction of some 1000km of pipelines, gas supply growth and stimulation of gas industrialisation. This Gas Revolution initiative is expected to fully support and sustain domestic power, create over a million jobs and attract over US$16 billion in Foreign Direct Investment, thus making Nigeria, Africa’s largest gas-based industrial park.”

He also said the newly inaugurated Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council would provide appropriate infrastructure to support all-year-round farming through irrigation, which will add 20 million metric tons of food to the nation’s domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 million jobs.

“These and many other achievements are what we expect any credible opposition to take us up on; not insincere, unfounded and myopic propaganda,” Metuh said. “Therefore, rather than waste further time with unconstructive criticisms, we challenge them to a public debate and projects inspection to compare our achievements with theirs in the states under their care.”