Stanley Osifo, a presidential aspirant within the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 general elections, has emphasised the need for Nigerians to perceive the current economic challenges as a global phenomenon. Osifo contended that certain individuals exploit the situations to create hardship for others. He discussed various national issues in this interview with Iniobong Iwok. Excerpts:
Year 2023 has been a challenging one for Nigerians, how would you describe the government of President Bola Tinubu, especially on its economic policies?
Year 2023 was an election year at the federal and state levels and in the different Houses of Assembly in the country. Elections were held across the country and it was a year that a president handed over to another one and a new government came on board. Actually, the government needed to understand what is on ground in the area of policies and think of what to do. The President needed to know what to do in the new administration.
The administration has a different aspect of governance. A lot of appointments were made, ministers were appointed and members of the boards of parastatals were appointed.
They also had to look at other areas of governance and I believe that with time the government would put its house in order to carry out its various programmes. That notwithstanding, the current government has done well with a lot of decisions and many Nigerians have been commending them for these policies.
There are so many things that the President has done that I cannot mention. The government was able to handle the issue of workers, I know that there was the removal of fuel subsidy, but this was something that had to be done.
Many people see this year’s Yuletide as quite challenging with the removal of fuel subsidy that has led to high cost of goods and services, is this not a negative signal for the government?
If we want to look at the economic issues in Nigeria, we should know that we are interconnected with other parts of the world. The issue of economy is a global one and many countries were not able to celebrate the Christmas properly. Nigeria is one of the few countries that were able to get out of recession easily.
The cost of living is high all over the world. Every Nigerians called for the removal of subsidy because we know what some people did with the subsidy money. Everyone is trying to see how they can cope with the situation.
When you are talking of high cost of goods and services, the President is not in charge of rice, tomatoes or pepper. So, we are all at fault when you talk of this. But with the policy intervention of the government, things would get better.
The fact that the exchange rate of naira to dollar is rising does not mean that people should just increase the prices of goods and services. Look at table water; it’s now being sold for N150, you wonder why this is so.
To a large extent, some of these things have to do with our system; we just take advantage of ourselves. The President was able to cut down the prices of transportation by 50% in cooperation with some transport companies so that Nigerians can have a good celebration. The problem is not the government; it is the people that frustrate the efforts of the government.
The issue of security is still there. Is this not another big challenge?
We have been having security challenge in the country for many years now. A lot of people have been taking about this. Some Nigerians just like to create anarchy so that they can achieve their aims.
I always tell people that why would Nigerians like to kill themselves. Recently, we heard the Minister of Mines, Dele Alake, saying that a lot of people that are interested in mining create insecurity in these areas and when they cause fear they would have an opportunity to achieve their aims.
The current government is doing its best, just about a week ago, there was a turnaround in the military where some generals were retired and some were moved up.
What happened on Christmas day is regrettable and I want to express my condolences to the families of those affected by the incident. It’s not what we wanted, but some bad elements are behind this, but I believe that the current government would do its best to handle this.
Your party had been in power since 2015 and people are saying that things have not changed. What is your take on this?
Many of us seem to have forgotten the state Nigeria was prior to 2015 when the APC got into power. If you recall, there was a time, when some states could not pay workers salaries.
A lot of workers were owed salary arrears and there was no solution because the government before the APC did a lot of things that plummeted the nation’s resources.
If not for the ingenuity of the APC and the person that came in 2015, I’m sure that Nigeria would have become worse if we had the kind of people that were there between 1999 and 2015.
The current administration did a lot then to salvage the situation. What was done was that the state governments were given loans and the Paris Club fund refund helped to stabilize the system and things started getting better.
Many a times, we don’t think about what caused the present day reality. We know what COVID-19 that came in 2020 did to the world economy till today. Even big economies are going into recession. After that, Nigeria did their best and we had recession for a brief period and moved out of it.
If you go to the United Kingdom after COVID-19, I know very well that many British left the UK because of inflation and high rate of taxation.
Even the British Central Bank had to increase the interest rate to control inflation in the country. Other developed countries are facing far worse situation than Nigeria.
The issue is that many of us didn’t understand that Nigeria is using available resources to fight it and it would take time for things to get better. In the area of security, if you recall that some local governments in the north were under the control of Boko Haram, but that is not the situation anymore with the coming of this government.
Though we still have issues of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and what have you, we should not forget that things like that have always been in Nigeria. Even during the time of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, we had some of these issues, so also during the time of the late president Umar Musa Yar’Adua, there were problems with the North and South and he gave amnesty to Niger Delta militants, which solved the problem then.
Former president Goodluck Jonathan took over and the same problem continued. There was a bomb blast on our independence day then, so many of these things have been going on, they were not caused by the current administration. What the APC has been doing is to tackle the issues, and who are those doing these things, they are Nigerians.
They might have foreign connections; it is Nigerians that would yield themselves for the foreigners to connect with them to carry all these negative things.
To a large extent the government means well to solve these issues. The more you solve, the more resilient some people and individuals that don’t want this government and nation in good light and don’t want Nigeria to be stable wreak havoc.
The government has done its best in the area of security and they are still working. In the area of the economy they are working, and they are doing their best on agriculture.
We have had the highest return on agriculture under this government based on statistics. We should all work together, whether you are in the APC or other political parties, all that I know is that Nigeria belongs to all of us and the good of Nigeria is our own good and the destruction of Nigeria is our own destruction.
So, let us work together and see how we can all work together to make Nigeria a great nation. Destroying Nigeria because of anger with some people or with the country will not help us. Let us throw all bitterness away. Let us throw all anger away and see how we can work together and make Nigeria great. If we work together, we will not have most of these problems that we are having.
What do you think the current government should do urgently in 2024 to make life better for Nigerians?
The government has been working; Nigerians should know that they would start to see the impacts. Inflation would be controlled; the government has provided billions of naira through the Ministry of Trade and Investment for interested Nigerians to access money for their businesses.
The loan is there for anyone that is interested in any kind of trade, they can take up to N500 million or one billion naira.
The government is coming up with policies and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Yemi Cardoso, has said that there would be many new policies.
I just want the government to continue to do its best and I believe that the year will be a glorious one. Next year, there will be elections in some states including Edo State. We are preparing and we are looking forward to it.