Falling oil prices in a period of recession hands a double jeopardy to the poor, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has said.
Mohammed said this in an address delivered at the 3rd Annual Adegboyega Awomolo and Associates Colloquium in Abuja on Tuesday.
At the event, a director of Lagos Business School, Prof. Pat Utomi, linked the current recession to mistakes made by former and present leaders of the country.
Mohammed, who was represented at the event by Justice Mary Odili, said it was important that the nation retraced its steps to cultivate the sectors of the economy that it depended on before the discovery of oil.
Speaking on the topic, Beyond Oil: The world after the reign of fossil fuels; Utomi said the present government did not need to panic over the economic realities it met on the ground, adding that when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took over the reins of government in 1999, he met worse conditions but did not panic.
Utomi said it was important for the government to open up the public space for discussion, adding that the country had been suffering from the weakening of space for public discourse.
He said, “About September 2015, I pleaded with policymakers to just keep quiet instead of raising anxiety with comments that suggested markets were anathema and triggering speculation effect with their comments.
“By December, as I had been audacious to suggest, the tumble of the naira had commenced. Companies and citizens had again begun to vote with their feet as they did in 1884/85.
“The panic choice had left the critical power sector a zone of man-made disaster, with manufacturing in retreat, and the much touted salvation sector, solid minerals, with no clarity.”