The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says President Muhammadu Buhari has saved Nigeria from economic crisis and prevented the economy from getting worse than it would have been.
Mohammed said this at the All Nigerian Editors Conference 2016 in Port Harcourt on Thursday, according to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Segun Adeyemi.
While making allusions to Venezuela, an oil-rich South American country which now depends on neighbouring Columbia for essential commodities, Mohammed said Nigeria which also failed to save during the oil boom, could have suffered the same fate if not for Buhari’s leadership skills.
He said, “We must give hope to our people, while also giving encouragement to those who are working non-stop to revamp our economy. In one country that failed to save for the rainy day like Nigeria, citizens are now having to cross to neighbouring countries to get essential commodities.
“The only reason we have averted such fate here is the committed, honest and disciplined leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari, the prudent management of the little resources that are accruing to the country now, thanks to the Treasury Single Account, the unrelenting war against corruption, the rooting out of ghost workers and the increasing emphasis on agriculture that is sure to massively reduce our scandalously high food imports in a short while.”
The minister said for several years the price of oil stood at $100 and above but the government of the day refused to save for the rainy day.
He said other oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Angola had saved for the rainy day and that was why their economies were still buoyant.
Mohammed added, “Nigeria has nothing to rely on to cushion the effects of the lost earnings. Many other oil-producing countries and fellow OPEC members are faring better, because they saved for the rainy day. Saudi Arabia, with about one fifth of Nigeria’s population, has in foreign reserves about $600bn (which is 23 times what Nigeria has in foreign reserves).
“United Arab Emirates, with less than 10 million people, has $75bn in foreign reserves. Qatar, with 2.4 million people, has $36bn in foreign reserves. Even Angola, with just 24 million people, has about $25bn in foreign reserves.”
Earlier, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had while declaring open the conference, accused the media of being involved in a conspiracy of silence while the people of the state were denied legitimate representation at the National Assembly.
Wike said, “The 8th National Assembly is well into the second year of its four-year tenure without any Rivers State representative in the Senate.
“We have only a fraction of Rivers representatives in the House of Representatives. Yet, the press is maintaining conspiratorial silence over the continuing repression and deliberate denial of the state’s constitutional right to full and effective representation at the National Assembly.
“The question is: can Rivers State legitimately be bound by legislation or resolutions from the 8th National Assembly passed without our representation and input? I would like to leave you with some thoughts about the values we share – thoughts about our democracy, good governance and public accountability.