The Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has saluted the courage and the perseverance of Nigerians as the country is currently going through challenging times.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed made this assertion in his country home, Oro in Irepodun local government area of Kwara State while addressing Newsmen on the state of the nation.
According to him, the Federal Government is aware of the hardship Nigerians are going through adding that this is not about trading blames. “It is not about who caused this or who caused that”.
The Minister said the country had a very defective economic structure which depended largely on one single product, crude oil.
“Unfortunately even though crude oil accounts to almost between eight and 12 per cent of our GDP another 53 per cent of our GDP we call non oil is also dependent on oil which in effect made about 60 per cent of our GDP depending on oil”, he explained.
“When we had the oil prices crashing, you are bound to have the kind of shock we have. This is compounded by the fact that there was no reserve with which to cushion it. I think another major problem responsive for the recession is the fact that we have a highly appetite for imported goods”.
The minister said that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government had invested enormous amount of money on infrastructure.
According to him, the whole of 2015, the past government spent only N18 billion on roads and spent N65 billion on travels on estacodes.
“This year alone, we have spent about N70 billion on roads. People may ask, why are we not seeing, the impact? You cannot see the impact immediately because the last government did not pay contractors between 2012 and 2015. Now we have to pay contractors. Julius Berger was owed about N70 billion when we started to get them back to site, we paid Julius Berger N13 billion and they just looked at us that that money is probably just enough to service their bank interest. Or take the JB Joint Venture, when we were selling oil $100 per barrel, the government refused to pay our joint ventures. Today we owe about $7 billion in Joint venture. It is just now we are about paying. That is why whatever we are doing today may not be instantly impactful”.
Speaking on the recession, the Minister said “the best thing to do when you are in recession is that you must spend out of recession. You must bring in more money for people to spend … unfortunately the Federal Government is hampered by the instability in Niger Delta which has made the country lose about one million barrels of crude daily while the development in the Niger Delta is also affecting the power situation because those are the areas where you get the gas. So we have lost about 40 per cent of our gas capacity and deposits”.