The presidency on Friday responded to those criticising the economic policy of the Buhari-led administration as unclear and without direction, insisting that the current administration actually has the most-focused economic policy Nigeria ever had.
The economic policy of the current administration has been criticized my many Nigerians, some of who see it as directionless and unclear, even calling for the sack of some policy makers in the administration.
But in a statement on Friday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu asserted that “more than any other time before, there is a clear direction and strategy for achieving growth and development” by this administration.
He accused the previous administration of only having the issue of how to spend oil revenue and borrow money, adding said expenses did not in any way benefit the masses.
According to him, “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 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-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).
“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.”
The President’s spokesman disclosed that all relevant agencies had been reoriented to focus government’s spending on infrastructure which will create jobs and opportunities for Nigerians across a number of sectors, not just oil.
He added that the administration is on course to reduce reliance on oil by developing other revenue streams such as taxes, efficient Customs collections and other government revenues as well as developing key sectors in which the country has comparative advantage.
He also harped on the current government’s drive to battle corruption, stating that the current pain Nigerians are facing is due to the mismanagement of the past, and that what Nigeria is currently experiencing was inevitable.
Shehu said, “For example, the previous government purchased fertiliser in 2014, worth 65 billion Naira 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.”
The statement further urged Nigerians to endure the pains of the economic recession, stating that “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, he said assuring Nigerians that the positive impact of the work being undertaken to fix Nigeria’s problems would soon begin to show.
“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,” it added.