Governors elected under the Peoples Democratic Party have expressed fears that Nigeria may be inching towards the way of Venezuela, a reference to the South American country’s endless economic woes.
Rising from a meeting under the PDP Governors Forum on Monday in Abuja, they voiced concern over the hardship faced by Nigerians as a result of the twin problems of insecurity and economic downturn.
The chairman of the forum and governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, stated these on Monday while fielding questions after delivering the communique issued at the end of the meeting hosted by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State in Abuja.
He dismissed insinuations that the main opposition leader has lost its voice amid growing hardship in the country.
Mohammed warned that though the party supported the removal of petroleum subsidy, the free-fall of the naira had placed the country on the road to Venezuela.
While maintaining that the opposition will continue to perform its role, he stated: “PDP is the most democratic party, the most experienced party in the country. We have been at the seat of governance and Nigerians took a decision to bring APC at the centre and we respect their sensibilities and sense of judgment of Nigerians.
“What we are doing is giving positive criticism to the obnoxious policies of the Federal Government.
“But at the onset of this administration, we supported the removal of subsidy, we believed that there were safeguards, we believed that if we took collective decisions, we should go by it.
“But certainly, we have seen that it is a free fall for the naira. The cost of living is going high, we are almost on the road to Venezuela. So we are giving concrete opposition, but not insulting anybody.
“Ultimately the decision squarely rests with Nigerians and other organs in the country to make sure that we do things that will bring succour to all of us.”
The PDP governors urged President Bola Tinubu to work with the states to produce enduring solutions to the nation’s security and economic problems.
The communique lamented the crumbling value of the naira and called for measures to halt the trend.
Venezuela was engulfed in a political and economic crisis which has led to more than 7.5 million people leaving the country since 2015.
Venezuela is categorized as archetype of a failed petrostrate with characteristics that include oil dependence, falling production, turbulent economy, soaring debt and hyperinflation.
When Nicolas Maduro took over power from Hugo Chavez in 2013, global oil prices plummeted and Venezuela, which relies almost entirely on oil revenue for its income, went into a seven-year recession.
The unprecedented social and humanitarian collapse is a result of bad economic policies and political conflict that have led to food insecurity, the second largest migration crisis in the world and regional instability.
The country has since grappled with skyrocketed inflation, widespread shortage of basic goods, extreme poverty while many of those without access to foreign currency continue to struggle.
The governors also threw their weights behind the PDP National Working Committee led by the acting national chairman, Iliya Damangun, and urged the national leadership to set in motion the necessary machinery to convene meetings of the party organs including the National Executive Committee as soon as possible.
The communique read in part: “The meeting reviewed the state of the nation and noted the hardship being faced by Nigerians as a result of the economic and security challenges facing the nation.
“The forum consequently urges the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency embark on initiatives involving all the sub national governments to bring a lasting solution to the crises.
“The PDP Governors will continue to play their part in the effort to bring security and succour to our people. To this end, we reiterate our call for state police with appropriate safeguards to avoid any abuse or overreach by any tier of government.
“The forum decried the falling value of the naira and requested the monetary and fiscal authorities to find appropriate solutions. The meeting further reviewed recent developments in the Peoples Democratic Party and committed to leading efforts to revamp and reposition the party to serve as an effective opposition to the ruling Party in Nigeria.
“The majority of Nigerians voted for this administration, so we are doing so much across party lines and on bi-partisan basis, within the Nigeria governors forum within the National Economic Council to make sure that we cushion the effects of some of these policies. We have reached out to our people and opened the food reserves in a manner that it will provide some succour to our people at the lower level.”
Governors who attended the meeting include Mohammed (chairman), Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State (vice chairman), Makinde of Oyo State (host), Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa State), Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau State), Dauda Lawal (Zamfara State), Kefas Agbu (Taraba State), Godwin Obaseki (Edo State); Dep. Governor Ifeanyi Ossai (Enugu State), and Dep Governor. Monday John Onyeme (Delta State).
On the forthcoming Edo State governorship election, the chairman said PDP governors are determined to ensure the victory of the party, which he noted, has no crisis in the state.
“We are 100 percent behind Edo and you can see that there is no rancour, there is no division and we are very much behind the NWC, the state chapter of the party and indeed the governor to make sure that we go together in unison to produce a successor for the most respected eldest governor in the governors forum,” he declared.