The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says the going of Nigerian economy into recession in 2016 was “inevitable” and past governments, not the Muhammadu Buhari-led government, should be blamed for it.
Adesina stated this on Friday in a post, adding that the former governments did not have a will to save the country’s resources.
He said, “At the economic front, of course, it came in 2015 when things were on a downward spiral. Nobody could have stopped that downward spiral because it was already set in motion. The recession that came in 2016 was inevitable. Nobody could have stopped it due to some actions and inactions of the government that left. The coordinating minister of the economy then even said that the government didn’t have the will to save. If a government doesn’t have the will to save, what then happens when the rainy days come? Rain will beat you and beat you seriously.
“That was what happened to Nigeria. Oil prices went as high as $140 per barrel, stabilized at an average of $100 for many years but foreign reserves were less than 30billion, excess crude account depleted, federation account emptied and then oil prices crashed to as low as $30 per barrel. It was almost humanly impossible to stop that recession.
“That recession lasted for just about a year because the government pulled up its bootstraps, rolled up its sleeves and did the right things to exit the recession and as the economy began to gather steam, ready to take off again, the covid-19 pandemic struck and an economy that was about to fly nosedived again. And we know that for most of 2020, the world was shut down and so, the second recession too became inevitable. But then, the miracle of it was that we emerged from that recession again faster than anybody thought.
“In fact, it is on record that the Nigerian economy is about the one that emerged fastest from the covid-induced economy. It shows that the fundamentals of the economy are strong and the fact that President Buhari has put the country’s money where our mouths are, matters, diversifying the economy. Imagine if they hadn’t been that kind of emphasis on agriculture, how would we have coped? Two hundred million people? The world was locked down.
“Nobody was exporting. If you wanted to import, there was no money. Oil prices were down. How could we have coped if there hadn’t been emphasis on agriculture? So, it helped us. And you would see that in the second quarter after lockdown, we emerged from the recession again. And the last report according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Nigerian economy grew by 5.01%.
“It is unprecedented. It is said that was the highest growth since 2014. So, on the economic front, Nigeria is not doing badly. We can do a lot better because it’s been said that vi-sa-vis our population, we need to grow annually by 7% for the economy to touch the lives of the people but we are on the way there. It is not a sudden flight. It is a progression and we are on the way to that. Nineteen more months, yes, this administration will do its best but government is a continuum. The next government will come and will build on wherever this administration has left it. So, Nigeria is in a good direction.”