All Progressives Congress, APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (ret), who is afraid of debate yesterday, unfolded his plans on how to revive the Nigerian economy before the Organised Private Sector, OPS, in Lagos, asserting that tackling corruption and insecurity were key elements to the plan.
At the meeting, entitled, ‘GMB Means Business,” Buhari put privatisation of the transmission companies, construction of inter-state roads, revival of local refinery production, among other schemes, to boost job growth in the economy.
Buhari, nevertheless asserted that whatever plans aimed at reviving the economy could only yield fruit if corruption and the spate of insecurity in the country are frontally tackled. He said that an opinion poll conducted prior to the production of the manifesto of the APC showed that majority of Nigerians put insecurity, corruption and the economy as their major priorities.
Giving his plans on how roads reconstruction could revive jobs, he said: “We will concentrate on the roads and highways that link up Nigerian states, while state governments will be expected to connect their states to these highways by building the last mile connections.
“Road construction alone will unlock a value chain of opportunities in the building industry for construction companies, builders, engineers, architects, quarry operators, cement and iron rod production and supply.
“The successful opening up of Nigeria by the construction of new roads and highways will revive road transportation, truck manufacture, tyre manufacture, engine oil, brake pad productions on one hand.
“It will also create a demand for jobs for mechanics, drivers and those engaged in transport support business. We expect a revival of all the inter-state economies that used to thrive across Nigeria, providing support to travellers by way of canteens, restaurants, farm produce, etc.”
Noting the cost of corruption to the economy, the presidential candidate cited issues with the unresolved $20 billion allegedly missing funds from crude receipts.
He said: “Corruption affects our ability to secure ourselves, and it also undermines the performance of the economy.
“This current government is being challenged to account for an estimated $20 billion and the whole country is awaiting a report of a forensic audit. $20 Billion at N210 to $1.00 is equal to N4.2 trillion – nearly a year’s federal budget.
“If it is true that this sum cannot be accounted for, this is grossest form of corruption. Just think at N5 million per vehicle, this money would have bought 840,000 patrol vehicles; (this would have improved security in every town and village in the country)
“At N13.5 million for a high capacity bus this money would have bought 311,000 buses; (this would have revolutionised the transport and production side of the economy)
“From information at my disposal, Lekki Bridge in Lagos cost N29 billion to construct. N4.2 trillion would have built 145 Lekki bridges; (this would have revolutionised transport, infrastructure, construction, employment in the economy)
“If the average cost of generating one mega watt of power is about US $1.5 million (excluding gas and distribution costs), $20 billion would have bought over 13,333 mega watts of power. What a difference that would make up and down the country!
“If you also factor the N2.2 trillion spent on subsidising fuel import which became a huge scandal, you may then understand why our manifesto focuses on the issues of security, corruption and the economy.
“We are too vulnerable as a nation at this moment if we have to import fuel to move our planes, our tanks and our men. We are too vulnerable as you can see that we also have to import arms. We are vulnerable because our troops also depend on imported food.”
Buhari was escorted to the meeting by Governor Babatunde Fashola, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, national chairman of the APC; Governor Rotimi Amaechi, director general of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation; Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, APC governorship candidate in Kaduna State, among others.