The Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said former President Goodluck Johnathan only conceded defeat after the 2015 elections because he knew the nation would witness economic recession soon.
Mr Jonathan, before the announcement of the final results, in a move that shocked many political pundits, conceded defeat to the current president, Muhamadu Buhari, after a keenly contested polls.
That was the first time an incumbent would be losing the top seat (and conceding victory) to an opposition party in Nigeria.
Mr Jonathan has been celebrated globally for his action, which many believe saved the country from political turmoil.
The economy plunged into recession shortly after in 2015. The recession raged in 2016 and through late 2017 when the nation then emerged from it.
However, Mr Fashola, a former governor of Lagos State, said on Thursday at a South-west town hall meeting that Mr Jonathan only relinquished power because he wanted to avoid being at the helm of affairs during the recession.
The meeting was organised by the Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, and held at the Emeritus Professor Theophilus Ogunlesi Hall, opposite University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Mr Fashola at the meeting also said the Goodluck government not only plunged the nation into recession but pushed it into debts.
”What was left behind were massive debts owed to contractors who had not been paid for three to five years and who had laid off thousands of workers and shut down equipment and plants.
”That was one of the reasons why the economy first went into, and, I suspect, one of the reasons they (Goodluck administration) quickly conceded defeat,” Mr Fashola said.
He explained that when the present administration assumed office in 2015, the three ministries previous budget was N19 billion for works, N5 billion for power, and N1.2 billion for housing making a total of N25.2 billion, “as at when the country was selling oil at $100 per barrel in that decade”.
“In 2017, the All Progressive Congress (APC) led administration budget for works was N394 billion; power was N69.96 billion and housing was N64.9 billion (total- N529 billion) and oil price hovered between $40-$60 per barrel.
”Let me start by saying that my ministry is responsible for delivering some of Nigeria’s critical infrastructure for transport, electricity and housing,” he added.
According to him, President Buhari has shown seriousness in providing adequate infrastructure to support the country.
”In a country where the population is growing faster than the infrastructure, the difference between these budgets must tell you that this government is more serious about providing infrastructure to support you.
”Another feature of the difference between these two budget sizes is that the last government was spending less on infrastructure for almost one decade when oil prices stayed at $100 per barrel during that decade. This government is spending more on infrastructure when oil prices largely hovered between $40-$60,” he said.
He urged Nigerians to make the right choices in the next election “either to vote in a government that spends more on infrastructure or a government that spent less on infrastructure”.
”So, if you need more roads, more bridges, more power, more housing and the job opportunities and prosperity that their delivery will bring, your choice in the next election should be easier.
”Don’t go back to a budget of N25.2 billion for infrastructure, move forward with a budget for infrastructure which has grown to N529 billion in 2018.
”So, in making your choice, please consider who is the better manager. The one who did less with more or the one who did more with less.
”Again I urge you to reflect. Do you want to go back to doing less with more, or move forward with doing more with less?”
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