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Jonathan: Private jets show Nigeria is not poor

Author:
Fredrick Nwabufo

 

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President Goodluck Jonathan has faulted the World Bank report which placed Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world, saying “the nation is not poor”.

“If you talk about ownership of private jets, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries, yet they are saying that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries,” he said.

Addressing workers at the May Day rally held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, the president said: “The challenge of the country is not poverty, but redistribution of wealth.”

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He said the realities on ground did not portray the country as a poor nation, but a nation which abundant wealth needed to be evenly redistributed.

The president added that his administration was working assiduously and putting policies in place to ensure that Nigerians had access to financial resources to create wealth for themselves.

“Nigeria is not a poor country. Nigerians are the most travelled people. There is no country you go that you will not see Nigerians. The GDP of Nigeria is over half a trillion dollars and the economy is growing at close to 7 per cent.

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“Aliko Dangote was recently classified among the 25 richest people in the World.

“I visited Kenya recently on a state visit and there was a programme for Nigerian and Kenyan business men to interact and the number of private jets that landed in Nairobi that day was a subject of discussion in Kenyan media for over a week.

“Some of you will experience that there is an amount of money you will give to a Nigerian who needs help and will not even regard it and thank you but if you travel to other countries and give such an amount, the person will celebrate.

“But the World Bank statistics shows that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries. Our problem is not poverty, our problem is redistribution of wealth.”

Agriculture sector

The president added that “probably wealth is concentrated in very few hands and a number of people do not have access to it and that is why my administration is committed in terms of financial inclusiveness and we are working very hard to achieve this”.

Jonathan specifically noted that in the agriculture sector, government introduced the electronic wallet for farmers in rural areas so they could access income through bank facilities.

He said government was also moving agriculture from just a rural development programme to wealth creation and major business programme, adding that government had taken pro-active steps and policies to stabilise power so that small and medium-scale enterprises will thrive.

“The key commitment of government is to make sure that so many Nigerians have access to finance so that they will be able to create wealth for themselves.”

Political undertones

The President also read certain political undertones in the processes of ratings by international bodies and global rating agencies.

He explained that “so many countries were downgraded economically in the few past months including some African countries.

“They looked at Nigeria and we gave explanations and they could not see any convincing reason but to downgrade our economy, they left us as BB minus.

“They said elections are coming, politicians are shouting at themselves, it may affect their economy, we will no longer give you stable outlook but give you negative outlook, which is same BB minus.

“When so many countries have been downgraded, they said Nigeria is one of the five poorest countries.”

The Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, said that the theme of the 2014 Workers Day, “Building Enduring Peace and Unity’’ was impressive, apt and relevant.

He urged labour unions to have faith in the Jonathan administration as it continued to implement policies and plans for national emancipation.

He said the administration had ensured and would continue to ensure that the voices of labour was heard.

Wogi added that the Labour Bill drafted to improve the lots of workers pending before the National Assembly would soon be passed into law and urged the unions to be considerate in their demands.

Some men

Earlier, the Nigeria Labour Congress president, Abdulwahed Ibrahim Omar, asked President Goodluck Jonathan to get “his men” out of Abuja.
By his men, he implied the new heads of the police in the city.

The NLC president’s statement was in relation to the reported abuse of lecturers and students protesting against the lingering strike by the police on Tuesday in Abuja.

Mr Omar added that the protesters were abused on the orders of the Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

He said tacitly that since the coming of “some men” into the FCT, police brutality and abuse had surfaced.

Joseph Mbu, the Commissioner of Police of the FCT, was transferred to Abuja from Port Harcourt after some controversy.

The head of Nigeria’s biggest labour union also noted that peace was vital for progress in the country. He said that the primacy of peace and unity in Nigeria informed this year’s May Day theme which is: “Building enduring peace and unity: panacea for sustainable national development”.

He said, “Peace and unity are vital for the survival and development of any nation, and are important part of modern society. If we go back into history, we see that the world used to be divided into empires and kingdoms that are in rivalry. In the modern period, however, nations or nation states have replaced empires as the basic unit of human political organization and have fostered peace and unity to ensure peaceful coexistence and social economic development. As an integral part of the modern world, therefore, Nigerians must be rightly concerned about building enduring peace and unity.”

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