THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate in the forthcoming general election, Atiku Abubakar, says Muhammadu Buhari government does not understand economics.
Atiku added that Buhari has no economist as a member of his cabinet.
He spoke on Wednesday at a town hall meeting with businessmen and manufacturers in Abia State.
He promised to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which Buhari had failed to endorse.
“The free trade Africa will give Nigeria the opportunity to dominate the African market as long as we make safeguards to protect our local industries,” he said.
AfCFTA is an initiative of the African Union to eliminate tariffs on intra-Africa trading and services with single continental market that will also promote free movement of people.
It is believed that if Nigeria, largest economy in Africa, agrees to the pact, it will be the largest trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.
“I am for free trade as much as possible, provided our own national interest is protected” Atiku said. “This is because today, the Nigerian economy is two third of West African economy. We know that our goods find their way throughout the West African sub-continent and sometimes up to central Africa.”
On single digit lending to traders, Atiku said the lending rate should be at 5 per cent rather than the current 9 per cent.
“Already the BOI offers a single digit but not good enough, you can come down lower. At the moment, I think it gives about nine per cent because I have taken one but I believe we can come down to as low as five per cent which is still doable within our economic environment.
“So again, it all depends on the will of the government and also the people who manage the economy. The point is that with this government, there is even no single economist in the cabinet. There is nobody who knows, as far as the economy is concerned.”
He identified the need to review the nation’s fiscal and monetary policies, stressing that his party is blessed with resourceful economists who are capable of ensuring his administration offers single digit interest rate for manufacturers and also lower the current lending rate.