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Fashola Minister blames recession on ‘stomach infrastructure’

Fashola said further that the current administration is working to change the “unproductive practices of yesterday.”

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Babatunde Fashola in a file photo in Lagos REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye play Babatunde Fashola in a file photo in Lagos REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has blamed the current recession on the past government’s habit of giving the people handouts instead of investing in infrastructure.

Fashola said further that the current administration is working to change the “unproductive practices of yesterday.”

The minister made the comments while giving a lecture titled “Leadership and the Politics of Reform in Africa: Lessons from Nigeria” at the Wilson Centre in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, September 20.

“We manage the time, we do not control the time. We need people to work hard. We are changing the unproductive practices of yesterday where the government chose to distribute cash, rice and imported kerosene in order to win votes, rather than invest it in the payment of contractors, got them to build roads, power projects, housing and real infrastructure,” Fashola said according to ThisDay.

“In Nigeria, the choices of yesterday make this winter a very harsh one for our people, because we did not invest in the right things. Our government of yesterday expressed its preference for providing ‘infrastructure of the stomach’, giving handouts instead of real infrastructure.

“This is how the seeds of today’s recession were sown. For those who say that today’s government should stop talking about yesterday, with due respect, I disagree. Yesterday will remain relevant in understanding today in order to make choices that make tomorrow different and better.

“I once used the allegory of the patient, and I think it deserves repetition. If a patient complains about stomach pain, the first question that the physician is likely to ask is: ‘What did you eat yesterday?’

“The answer helps the physician make a diagnosis and choose a prescription first to solve the problem, and to recommend further dietary habits about what to eat and what not to eat. This is what the current leadership is addressing.

“We did not invest in roads, highways, bridges, schools and hospitals. Money was taken out of the larger society and invested in private accounts. The economy began to shrink, construction companies laid off workers, who in turn lost income, which resulted in shrinking demand for goods and services, and in turn led to national under-productivity.

“That was what we ate yesterday. The stomach pain is comparable to symptoms of bad dietary choices that manifest in the recession we now deal with. The solution is to spend on infrastructure, which has started. The recovery time is a function of what we can spend and how quickly it will go round… If an arid area of land has not witnessed rainfall in two to three years, you know what happens when the first rain falls. It literally disappears into the ground.

“In order to reach a point where any moisture is visible in the soil that may support the germination of a seed to be planted, more rain water needs to be injected. This is the best analogy I can offer for where our national economy is. But I will conclude by saying I am optimistic that we will turn things around,” he added.

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In 2014, the All Progressives Congress (APC) created the term ‘stomach infrastructure’ while criticizing Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose for giving food items to residents to secure votes in the governorship elections.

Fayose accepted the term and, after winning the election, went ahead to appoint Sunday Anifowose as his Personal Assistant on Special Duties and Stomach Infrastructure.

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