Mrs Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance, on Sunday, said the Federal Government had taken steps to reset the economy with a view to making it work for the benefits of the citizens.
The minister, in an article with the title Positioning Nigeria for a prosperous future, said “The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is laying the foundation for the kind of economic growth that makes a real impact in the lives of citizens.”
Writing against the country’s recent exit from recession, Adeosun said, “Since the middle of 2014, when the price of crude oil fell dramatically, Nigeria’s finances became challenged. This is not hard to explain: we’ve historically depended on crude oil for as much as 70 per cent of government revenues, and 90 per cent of foreign exchange earnings. The outcome – pressure on government’s finances – was by no means unusual. A similar fate befell most oil-rich countries around the world.”
She added that the effect of the recession would have been mitigated had the country saved when the price of crude oil was as high as $100 per barrel.
According to her, “The government did little in terms of saving and investing for the future. Our Sovereign Wealth Fund, which was established in October 2012 with just US$1 billion, did not receive any further inflow during the oil price boom. Instead, billions of dollars were squandered through corrupt oil and defence contracts. It is a terrible thing for a country to fall on hard times without a savings buffer. There was nothing unexpected about our downturn. It was the inevitable result of the choices we made or didn’t make during the years of boom.”
Describing the downturn in the economy as a blessing in disguise, Adeosun said, “Not very long from now, Nigerians and the world will look back on this recession we have just emerged from, and realise that it was the turning point in Nigeria’s journey to true growth and greatness.”
According to her, “The downturn has inspired unprecedented levels of fiscal responsibility, in line with President Buhari’s determination to fight Nigeria’s endemic corruption.”
She explained that “A lot of the work we have done over the last two and half years has been focused on dismantling the old ways of doing things, rebuilding them, and empowering and fortifying our institutions with technology to block loopholes, discourage abuse, and prevent a relapse into the destructive ways of the past.
“The new Nigeria we seek will not happen without this kind of foundational reform that imposes on us new ways of thinking and of doing things. The early results are already being seen. A concerted focus on agriculture has seen our rice imports from Thailand dropping by 90 per cent between 2015 and 2016, and replaced by locally grown variants.
“As oil has let us down, we have started to do what we should have done decades ago, invest in agriculture and mining. Throughout the recession, agriculture recorded healthy growth. As we emerge from the recession, its impact is certain to multiply and position Nigeria for a prosperous future.”