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Nigeria’s recession: discordant notes from Buhari’s key economic “managers” – Tola Adenle

September 20, 2016

Nigeria

Discordant – disagreeing; incongruous; and in Music – harsh and jarring due to lack of harmony.

 

Since August, Kemi Adeosun, the Finance Minister has been spewing ill-digested and, apparently less-understood economic ideas concerning whatever stage Nigeria is supposed to be in as regards the president’s request for “special emergency powers” to tackle the economic situation. Once, after unmistakably calling the economic situation a “recession” at a press briefing, she would soon deny she ever mentioned the ‘r’ word until her quoted words proved too apparent for her to run away from.

Only this past week, she was still explaining and pleading the case for an approval of the “special emergency powers” only for Nigerians to be told this week that “the worst is over …” according to one of the president’s “economic team” members, the governor of the Central Bank who, in a bizarre and incredibly-flippant statement to the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, shows why Nigeria is in dire straits: perhaps qualified on paper but lacking in needed depth of knowledge, and composure to tackle the problem at hand.

Here are words credited to Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor:

“The worst situation of the recession that hit the economy is over, by December, the economy would be fully out of recession and be on the part of growth …
“I repeat, the worst is over, the Nigerian economy is on the path of recovery and growth. “Trust me, if you are standing as a bystander, you are losing by being a bystander. Join the train now before the bus leaves the bus station. “Let me repeat myself, we are already in the valley, the only direction for us to go is up the hill …” – Godwin Emefiele

His surprising statement, and those of the other dramatis personae of Nigeria’s sorry economic situation – “Managers of the Economy”, can be found at the end of this essay:

Less melodramatic than Emefiele’s but not really credible because of its not really saying anything new and its non-specificity is Budget and Planning minister, Udoma Udoma’s:  

“Therefore, this government is committed first, to implementing measures to get Nigeria out of recession, and, secondly, implement major structural reforms to ensure that we do not experience this situation again … although the administration had not been able to meet its revenue target set in the 2016 budget as a result of falling oil prices and disruption in output arising from attacks in the Niger Delta, the government was pushing ahead with its plan to make life better for Nigerians and attract necessary investments into the country …”

And credited to Lai Mohammed, Information Minister (Olori Akédé) is a statement that does not show any new thing that could have been responsible for Emefiele’s euphoric announcement about the worst being over.

In fairness to Mohammed, he is no economist; neither am I but he apparently like Nigeria’s government officials, they find it inconvenient either to check or leave what they know little about to those who know better. A government spending its way out of recession does not seem to show in what he and the others have laid out. After all, his statement implies government already spent what it could afford on infrastructure “to give quality of life …” but is waiting or working “until we are stable and able to produce and export to earn foreign exchange”. 

He has not told Nigerians how government will get money into the economy to “spend its way out of [this] recession” – the worst of which, the CBN governor tells Nigerians, “is over”.

Here is an excerpt of the part of the mumbo-jumbo from the Buhari Government through one of the “Managers”:

“The only way to get out of recession is to spend out of recession by investing in capital projects and key infrastructure to give quality life to the citizenry. This is what the present administration is actively doing and we will not stop until we are stable and able to produce and export to earn foreign exchange that is giving us headache now … N100bn already spent on infrastructure “That is why this year alone, the government has spent about N100 billion on infrastructure development alone. On roads alone, we have so far spent about N70 billion. If you compare this to 2015, the government spent a maximum of N18 billion on roads throughout the year …”

And, finally, from Kemi Adeosun whom I’ve described here as always wearing a scared look of one well in over her head with her responsibility of the country’s Finance Ministry:

Under what she describes as “Quick Wins” – quick fix? – Adeosun lists:

” A-meal-a-day for pupils in Primary 1-3 pupils in the states is something that means a lot to some vulnerable families in the country … the payment of the N5000 to some persons in the country is also another programme to put some money into the hands of the poor and change their fortunes. The employment of primary school teachers will also start soon as thousands of Nigerians have already registered online to be engaged under the programme … It is a tough time but we are doing everything possible to ensure that we come out of this in a way that is sustainable so that we never get back here again. If you remember, we have been here before. But this time, we want to come out of it in a way that is more sustainable by addressing the infrastructure challenges … We need transport to be able to move the goods.  That is why you see that the government is making investments in rails, roads, power and airports. I think from the signs we see, Nigeria is going to come out of this and we are going to come out of it stronger.”

By the way, what good will giving one meal a day to one of, say, three children a family has in the primary school – let’s assume two are in Primary IV and VI since only the child in, say Pry II would be fed when the father has not been paid for months and the mother, who sells in an open market, no longer has customers? What will the others eat?

No wonder the upper legislative House announced a week ago that some of Buhari’s ministers would need to be sacked.

REFERENCE

RECESSION: The worst is over —CBN GOV

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2016. 6:48 a.m. [GMT]

 

 

 

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