Hello Nigeria, This is a Breaking Radio Issues in the News. It is September 3 2016, and reaching you from Lagos Nigeria.
Embittered with the current state of the nation’s economy, some Nigerians called for President Buhari’s resignation.
This VOA article is a response by Nigeria’s presidency to the call for the president resignation.
The PDP said Buhari’s infective economic policies have plunged the country into the current economic crisis Nigerians face. The opposition party also said Buhari’s government incompetence on dependence on oil and failure to diversify the economy are to blame for the poor economic outlook.
The PDP said Buhari should resign immediately if he is unable to reverse what the party called the disastrous economic decline.
The National Bureau of Statistics officially confirmed that the country is in recession, adding that the Gross Domestic Product contracted by 2.06 percent.
In a statement released to the media on Wednesday, Deji Adeyanju, the PDP’s director of new media, said it appears that President Buhari is incapable of resolving the country’s economic problems.
“Nothing better showcases the absolute ineptitude and incompetence of the Muhammadu Buhari administration than the GDP, inflation and unemployment figures released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics today,” said Adeyanju. ” The result of these indices is that Nigeria is in its worst economic state for 29 years — dating back to 1987 when the nation had to take harsh steps to recover from President Buhari’s policies of 1984-85.”
But in an interview with VOA, presidential spokesman Shehu Garba said Buhari is not to blame for the economic crisis. He predicted that measures the government has implemented would soon reverse the country’s economic outlook.
“The economy had been racked over the years by massive corruption and lack of productivity,” said Shehu. “The collapse of the oil prices came hard on the Nigerian economy, and the ongoing sabotage of oil installations by the militants in the [Niger] Delta, which has cut oil output by nearly 60 percent. So, all of these coming together, obviously have their implications [on] the overall performance of the economy.”
Shehu said the president’s reaction is that “there are positive signals coming also from the report. Because the key element of the policy of the administration — meaning agriculture, mining and foreign investment — all of these show an indication of growth, which indicates that the economy is responding to the policy direction and priorities of [the] President Muhammadu Buhari administration.”
Critics say since coming to power nearly two years ago, Buhari has yet to clearly articulate plans to jump-start the economy despite repeated promises. They also say it appears he has no clue to resolve the myriad of economic challenges that Nigeria faces in spite of pleas that he needs more time to turn things around. Critics also argue that if Buhari has expedited plans to diversify the economy instead of the over dependence on oil, the country would be better off.
Presidential spokesman Shehu predicted that before the year is over the economy would be out of recession, based on what he said has been the administration’s well-laid out plans to combat economic factors which he said created the present conditions.
“Any effort to diversify the economy would have to take time,” said Shehu. “This country, for as long as anybody can remember, has been relying on earnings from petrol, even with foreign earnings. Nobody saved for the rainy day. Nobody planned over these years to diversify.”
Moving away from agriculture
Ironically, Shehu added it is the “Muhammadu Buhari administration that is saying to the country ‘we have to move away to agriculture’. And we have already set targets and at the end of the first term of this administration, this country would not be importing rice, we would not be importing wheat and hopefully, sugar. There is a green revolution going on, so soon agriculture would be the main stay of the economy with or without oil.”
Shehu said “President Muhammadu Buhari is a victim of massive expectations.”
“President Buhari promised good things,” Shehu added, “but he didn’t promise Nigerians that the sun will rise from the west or that he can use his palm to cover the sun. No. He is not a magician. It would take time to restore, to bring out Nigeria from the depth from the cesspool of corruption that it has been sank by years of PDP misrule.”
What is Buhari doing with The Vanguard Newspaper questions
Nigerian President Rejects Opposition Calls for His Resignation – From the VOA.
In earlier news, the Daily Post had the headlines – You are incompetent, resign now.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Wednesday, said the latest report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has exposed the incompetence of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
NBS had yesterday released its quarterly report which confirmed that Nigeria is in recession.
The report had indicated an alarming increase in the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, Inflation and Unemployment figures since Buhari assumed the mantle of leadership.
Reacting to the statistics, the opposition party’s Director on New Media, Deji Adeyanju, demanded the resignation of the President.
According to Adeyanju, nothing better showcased the incompetence of the Buhari’s administration than the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, Inflation and Unemployment figures released by NBS.
The statement titled, “PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI IS COMPLETELY DESTROYING NIGERIA” reads: “Nothing better showcases the absolute ineptitude & incompetence of the Muhammadu Buhari administration than the GDP, Inflation & Unemployment figures released by Nigerian Bureau of Statistics today.
“These figures reveal what we have repeatedly said over the last 15 months, the Nigerian President is destroying the Nigeria economy.
And Afenifere’s opinion?
Restructure now, experts, Afenifere, others tell Buhari – The Punch
Analysts and socio-political groups on Friday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to heed the call for the restructuring of the country.
They told Saturday PUNCH in separate interviews that with the current economic crisis facing the country, restructuring was inevitable.
The National Bureau of Statistics had, on Wednesday, released the Gross Domestic Product figures for the second quarter of 2016 with the GDP growth rate sliding from -0.36 per cent in the first quarter to -2.06 per cent year on year.
It also released the capital importation report for the second quarter, the unemployment statistics report, the inflation report for the month of July and the labour productivity report for the month of July.
The reports, according to analysis, painted a negative picture of the Nigerian economy with inflation rising as high as 17.1 per cent from 16.5 per cent; unemployment rate increasing to 13.3 per cent from 12.1 per cent and investment inflows dropping to its lowest levels at $647.1m from $710m.
The National Publicity Secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said except the country was restructured, the recession could not be addressed.
He said, “Nigeria has entered a terminal crisis as it is now on irreversible journey to Venezuela. The Naira is on a free fall; inflation has torn the roof and suicide is now the option left for the hapless which we are already harvesting.
“There is no way out of this crisis except we restructure and release the creative energy in the federating units to retool. If we continue on this beaten path, our spring looms.”
A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Ebunoluwa Adegboruwa, said the problems in Nigeria were beyond the economy.
According to him, they are fundamental and can be traced to the root of the country’s existence.
He said, “I believe that we should restructure peacefully and upon terms agreeable to all the constituent units of the lopsided federation called Nigeria.
“The 1999 Constitution, which was enacted against the will of the people, should be dismantled and power and resources should be given back to the regions where they belong and are located.
“This style of dolling out bailouts to states and local governments from Abuja cannot continue.”
Also, the Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Uche Uwaleke; a former Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Rislanudeen Muhammed; and a former Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Mr. Ganiyu Ogunleye, said restructuring would help address the socio-economic challenges facing the country.
Uwaleke said that once the federating units were given the powers to control their resources, it would help promote economic competition.
According to him, with competition, the federating units will come up with innovative ways of stimulating their respective economies.
Uwaleke said, “Restructuring is the panacea for many of the socio-economic challenges facing the country. This much came to the fore in the last constitution conference put together by the previous administration.
“The seemingly endless crises in the Niger Delta region will substantially abate if the country is restructured in a way that allows greater control of resources by the federating units.”
Muhammed agreed with Uwaleke. He said restructuring would make all the states compete for economic development and as such uplift the lives of their people.
He said, “Nigeria has huge economic potential outside the oil sector which is largely untapped due to the so called Dutch Disease that has for years made us lazy and always relying on mono product commodity called oil as the source of income, notwithstanding the fact that oil constitutes only 10 per cent of our Gross Domestic product.
“Economic restructuring will make all the states compete for development and uplifting the lives of their people. There is potential for growth in non oil export in most states and virtually all the states have one form of economic competitive advantage or the other.
“The states do not have to grow at same pace but hard work will make all the difference. For example, virtually the whole of Zamfara State is sitting on gold and diamond, largely untapped with little going to illegal miners.”
Ogunleye described the restructuring of the country as a necessity, adding that it held the key to the economic development of the people.
He said, “Restructuring is a necessity and it is what the people have been advocating over the years, but the challenge is that it is either there is no serious commitment to it or the political will to implement it is lacking.
“Otherwise, when you talk about diversification, it is almost the same thing as restructuring the economy. Over the years, we relied on oil revenue and now we can appreciate the risks of relying on one source of revenue.
“We are not a manufacturing country and so most of the things we use are imported. So, there is the need to restructure the country in such a way that we can develop manufacturing capacity.”
According to Ogunleye, while a lot of emphases have been placed on agriculture, the country is just focusing on the primary aspect of the sector.
He said, “There is no linkage in our agriculture. When we produce our raw cocoa, we export it only to import chocolate. Imported products are expensive to the economy and they affect our foreign exchange.
“So with proper linkages in our agriculture sector, the pressure we are having now on foreign exchange will be reduced.”
The President, Campaign for Democracy, Abdul Usman, said with restructuring, no region would be dependent on others.
He said, “Restructuring can, as a matter of fact, make most of our clueless leadership in our various regions to sit up. The fact remains that our leaders are lacking in economic potential and are not willing to learn from some of their colleagues.”
The Punch also reported that Cash crunch threatens Buhari’s N500bn social protection scheme
The reduction in Federal Government’s revenue caused by the sharp drop in global oil price is currently threatening the full implementation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s planned social protection programme, SATURDAY PUNCH has learnt.
A whopping N500bn was allocated to the programme that has six components in the 2016 budget. The sum is about 9 per cent of the Federal Government’s N6.06tn budget.
An office headed by the Special Adviser to the President on Social Protection Plan, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, was also created in the Office of the Vice-President for the purpose of implementing the plan which formed a major part of the All Progressives Congress’ campaign promises ahead of the 2015 presidential election.
Four months to the end of the year however, SATURDAY PUNCH’s investigation showed that the programme has yet to take off fully except for “preliminary works”.
It was also learnt that only about N20bn has been cash-backed out of the N500bn budgeted for the scheme.
A government official, who spoke with our correspondent on Friday on condition of anonymity, admitted that the drop in government’s revenue “is a huge challenge to the programme.”
Speaking specifically on the Conditional Cash Transfer programme that is designed for government to be paying N5,000 monthly to one million extremely poor Nigerians, the official said arrangements were already at advanced stage.
“We are almost through with our preparations for the scheme to take off. The only thing left is for money to come in. This is why we have not announced when it will start,” the source said.
He said to demonstrate its commitment to the cash transfer programme, the government decided to prioritise the scheme and the development of infrastructure.
He added that while money has been released for infrastructure, the scheme was still awaiting funding.
When reminded that there are only four months left in the year, the source noted that the National Assembly recently approved a full year cycle for the implementation of the budget.
This, he explained, means that since the 2016 budget was signed into law in May, the government will continue to implement the budget till May 2017.
He also explained that although one million people are expected to benefit from the scheme across the country, it would be implemented in phases.
He said the scheme will first take off in 10 states.
In identifying prospective beneficiaries, he said the government was working with the World Bank to create a social register.
He said the plan was to identify four poorest local governments in the states.
The source said beneficiaries would be considered based on the condition that they have children enrolled in school and are immunised.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Office of the Vice-President did not yield result as of the time of filing this report on Tuesday.
But the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said the programme was on course.
Adeosun, who spoke with our correspondent through her spokesman, Mr. Festus Akanbi, however said the N500bn allocated to the scheme could not be released at once.
“The programme is on course. However, the Federal Government should not be expected to release all N500bn in one fell swoop,” he said.
It will be recalled that the House of Representatives had recently taken the government to task on the N500bn earmarked for the scheme.
The House Committee on Legislative Budget/Research and the Committee on Poverty Alleviation queried the non-utilisation of the “huge budget” at a meeting with Uwais.
The lawmakers said they were concerned especially that the year would wind down in about four months.
Garba Shehu, the Nigerian President Spokesperson in a very very lengthy statement,devoid of much desired critical substance in the face of much displeasure by Nigerians, attempted to explain what Buhari is doing with Nigeria’s economy. Also, Garba Shehu says oil is at $28 per barrel.
What Is President Buhari doing with the economy?
Garba Shehu could only mention that 40,000 ghost workers were rid, N76 billion was spent on roads in three months, and that N26 billion was spent on the transport sector. Well this is the length of his long submission. It is left to Nigerians to adjudge the administration.
To avoid repeating the past mistakes, Nigerians must come to terms with what went wrong with the past, how bad were things, what was done wrongly, what the past government should have done, before we come to what needs to be done to right those wrongs. Believe me, episodes from the Jonathan era can fill books, and other possibilities such as courtroom drama thriller. Against this backdrop, I sought to hear our erudite Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun on where we are coming from, vis-a-vis the administration’s chosen path to recovery and accelerated growth. What is the administration doing to revitalize the economy? She spoke at length on the many measures being put in place, many of which are not glamorous. They, of necessity, come with pain. Why should Nigerians be asked to endure pains? Why should they be asked to make adjustments?
The simple explanation is that the economy was broken, and just as they do the broken leg, you must bear the pain of fixing it. The current situation was caused by years of mismanagement and corruption. As explained by President Buhari again and again, trumpeted by Madam Adeosun and other senior officials, we solely relied on oil, the price of which was as high as US$140 per barrel. Government simply reticulated oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries. This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy. Economies grow due to capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing. Nigeria has not recorded a single major infrastructural project in the last 10 years. In short the money was mismanaged. In addition to failing to spend money on what was needed, no savings were made by Government unlike other countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Norway. To compound the problem, the previous government was borrowing heavily and owed contractors, and international oil companies. When this government took over we had accumulated debt back to the level it was before the Paris Club Debt Forgiveness. All these factors were building up to Nigeria heading for a major crisis if the price of oil fell. Nigeria did not have fiscal buffers to withstand an oil shock. The oil shock should and could have been foreseen. These are matters that both the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sunusi 11 and Professor Chukwuma Soludo, both them eminent former Central Bank Governors had occasions to warn the government of the day about, but they were clobbered. The dire warnings were written all over the wall, but they were ignored by Nigeria’s economic managers.
What should they have done? They should have had the courage and vision to do as the present administration is doing through the Economic Team, the Ministry of Finance under Madam Adeosun and the various agencies of the state to envision a better future by first of all fighting corruption. Look at what a civilian administration is today doing to military, investigating their finance and accounts that the military could not do to themselves. See what the current administration is doing sanitize the huge salary bill by eliminating payroll fraud. So far, the federal payroll has been rid of about 40,000 ghost workers. More than eight billion Naira stolen monthly has been saved. We are also saving on wasteful expenses like First Class Travel and Private jets for official trips. The federal government is not limiting the reforms to the center but forcing State Governments to reform their spending and build savings or investments. Government is also increasing spending on capital projects especially on infrastructure needed to make Nigerian businesses competitive and create jobs. The administration is at the same time blocking leakages that allowed government revenues to be siphoned into private hands. Diversification Currently, there is focus on key sectors ( apart from oil) that can create jobs and or generate revenue such as Agriculture, Solid Minerals and Manufacturing. If these things had been done when the oil price was as high as US$140 per barrel, Nigeria would not be in the current predicament. We would not be suffering now if we had no cash reserves but we had regular supply of power, a good rail system, good roads and good housing. Now that the oil has fallen as low as US$28 per barrel, it is very difficult to do what is needed but they must be done to save Nigeria. There is no other way if we want to be honest. If PDP were still in power they would have continued deceiving people, by borrowing to fund stealing and wastage and the problem would have simply been postponed for future generations to face. The truth There are many who say that this Government’s economic strategy is unclear whereas the previous government seemed well co-ordinated. I will make the confession that we, the officials hired to communicate government policies, that includes myself, have not done as well as we should have. The truth is that more than any other time before, there is a clear direction and strategy for achieving growth and development. Revisionists may not agree, but the truth of the matter is that the previous administration only had one issue, which was how to spend money ( oil revenues and borrowed money). As mentioned earlier this spending was focussed on the wrong things and even though the economy seemed to be growing it was not sustainable, it was, as described by Minister Adeosun, a classic “boom and bust”’ driven solely by the oil price. Unemployment was and remained high (never forget the NIS jobs that exploited thousands of desperate graduates in a scam that was used to fund house purchases in high brow areas and claimed so many lives) Inequalities were growing (our then President boasted about Nigerians having the highest number of private jets when most Nigerians could barely afford to eat).Terrorism and social unrest were growing. Real development was lacking. As soon as the oil price fell, these vulnerabilities were exposed. From its records so far, this administration is trying to reset the Nigerian economy and ensure that it attains its potential and is diverse and resilient. We are doing this at a time when the global economy is in crisis due to the oil price collapse. Even rich nations like Saudi Arabia are experiencing problems The Government is people- oriented, focussed and wants the economy to grow in a way that will create a more stable future which is not dictated by world oil prices ( over which we have no control). No more boom and bust ( thanks Minister Adeosun). Our policies Nigeria wants to take responsibility for its own destiny, therefore our policies will ensure that Nigeria returns to growth in a sustainable manner. No more dependence on oil. Every part of Nigeria has a role to play in contributing to our growth. We will create an environment where people can thrive and where business can grow. To this effect, all relevant agencies have been reoriented to: Focus government spending on infrastructure which will create jobs and opportunities for Nigerians across a number of sectors( not just oil). Ensure that we reduce our reliance on oil by developing other revenue streams such as taxes, efficient customs collections and other government revenues. Develop key sectors in which we have comparative advantage. Encourage development of agriculture to ensure food security for our huge population. Develop petro-chemical industry on the back of the oil industry. Develop solid mineral extraction and Develop light manufacturing to provide locally made basic needs and reduce importation. If you are an official of this administration and a mixer, that is someone who mingles with citizens high and low, a charge you are forced to defend is that this Government seems to be bringing austerity and suffering to the people. Blame not, Buhari. The current pain is due to the mismanagement of the past. What Nigeria is currently experiencing was inevitable. This government is simply being honest with the people instead of piling up debts and concealing the truth by pretending all was rosy. This government believes that Nigerians deserve to know the truth. People stole unbelievable amounts of money. The kind of money some of these ex-officials hold is itself a threat to the security of the state. Since it is not money earned, they feel no pain deploying it just anyhow to thwart genuine and government good efforts. What we are doing Sadly, even that which was not stolen was wasted. Government coffers were left empty, with huge debts unpaid and unrecorded ( this government is working to quantify the amount owed). Even the current high food prices can be traced to past deceit. For example, The previous government purchased fertiliser in 2014, worth N65Bn and left the bill unpaid. In 2015 the suppliers could not supply fertiliser which resulted in a low harvest, shortages and high food prices. This government had to pay off the debt so that the suppliers could begin to supply fertiliser again. Across Nigeria a green revolution is occurring as Nigerians are going back to the farms, from rice in Kebbi and Ebonyi to Soya and Sesame in Jigawa and Kano. At the same time Nigerians are looking inwards to identify commercial opportunities from agri businesses. Most of our road contractors had not been paid since 2012, many of them had sent their workers away adding to the unemployment problem. This government has released capital allocations in the last three months that is more than the whole of 2015. In 2015 Nigeria spent a paltry N19Bn on roads, in three months we have spent N74Bn and we are already releasing more. In the transport sector in 2015, government spent just N4.2Bn we have spent N26Bn with more to follow. We are starting a concession that will revive our old rail system for freight, whilst we build a new high speed rail system. Moving heavy goods by rail will reduce our transport costs which will reduce food prices and will save our roads from damage from heavy loads. Government will embrace the private sector through PPP, concessions and other collaborations to deliver services and infrastructure efficiently. Nigerians expected a lot from President Buhari and are right to have done so. Many feel disappointed. While much of this warranted, a lot more is arising from opposition politics. A man who has promised good things is being accused of failing to use the palm to cover the sun or that he is unable to stop the rain. Nigerians are right to be disappointed but they must direct their anger at the right quarters. The bad management and corruption of the past are firmly to blame. This government is fighting corruption. It is working hard to do things right and do them in a manner that will endure. No government has ever considered the poor like this one. Under the current budget, the administration devoted N500Bn for social intervention programmes for those who need and deserve support. There are also programmes for affordable housing with mortgages which will transform thousands from tenant status to home ownership. Let’s look ahead Any process that will endure, must involve some pain but things will begin to improve. There is always a time lag between policy and effect. That is why the bad effects of past policies are manifesting now. Similarly the positive impact of the work being undertaken to fix Nigeria’s problems will soon begin to show and we will emerge from this period stronger, wiser and more prosperous. There is hope for Nigeria, a hope that was previously clouded by corruption, greed and lack of focus. Nigeria is starting over and everyone has a role to play. Look back, look ahead. By Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant ( Media and Publicity) to President Buhari.
That response by the presidency can be read from the Vanguard newspaper article titled “What is President Buhari doing with the economy”.
Professor Abdullahi spoke about the current state of the economy calling Nigeria’s economic team squares in a playground of round holes. He said “Some of the decisions taken by his so-called economic team are taking us backwards. We are in a bad economic situation and our political class is responsible. Now, it is obvious that we have square pegs in round holes, otherwise, they cannot be sitting and be looking at our economy as if it is normal because it is not a normal economy at all and the kind of emergency measures they are trying to put in place will only split the economy between the rich and the poor and by the time we succeed in doing that, we are going to create a mess. Because by the time they succeed in doing what they are trying to do, hand over the economy to the elite and leave the rest of 80-90 per cent out there in the cold, then, we cannot expect a peaceful resolution of our social and economic crises.
The question on the minds of Nigerian is whether this is the beginning of a terrible season or just a temporary economic mess.
From being called Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria is now being referred to as West Africa’s largest economy by the Western press. Egypt is gearing up to further push Nigeria from the current second position in Africa to third. But the government of Nigeria still sees Jonathan Goodluck and the past as the problem, blaming the ghosts of the Jonathan era.
These are just some of the key issues over the last twenty four hours.
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