Nigerian government pledges to fulfil financial obligations

Timothy Choji, Abuja

Workers in Nigeria have been reassured that their salaries would be paid promptly. The National Economic Council gave the assurance after its meeting in Abuja.

Briefing Journalists at the end of the 69th meeting of the council, Minister of Budget, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma said government will continue to meet its financial obligations, especially the payment of salaries to workers.

“We have paid all salaries. The Federal government has always been paying its salaries and there is no risk whatsoever that there is going to be a situation where government cannot pay salaries,” he affirmed.

The Minister for Budget and National Planning said government had to clear the air on the payment of salaries, following reports that by October this year, it will not be able to pay salaries due to current economic challenges.

No Recession

Mr Udoma said Nigeria is not witnessing a recession yet, as being said in some quarters.

“Recession happens basically if you have two quarters of negative growth. We had a first quarter of negative growth but we are still waiting to get all the figures for the second quarter, which just ended in June. The National Bureau of Statistics will be giving us all the figures. But if as we suspect, the second quarter is also negative, then technically you could say that we are in recession,” the Minister explained.

The Budget Minister said the country hopes to end in a positive financial position, because economic activities have started picking up, especially revenue generation, adding that government on its part will create the enabling environment for the economy to continue to thrive.


Excess Crude

Also speaking, Taraba state Governor, Mr Darius Ishaku said the country’s Excess Crude Account balance now stands at three point nine billion dollars.

“The Minister of Finance reported to the Council that the balance in the Excess Crude Account as at July 20, 2016 stood at USD 3.93 billion,he said.

Mr Ishaku said the Council welcomed the newly adopted “Green Alternative” agricultural diversification plan of the federal government, which will be launched soon.

“Agriculture Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh presented the plan to NEC, and received enthusiastic responses from the state governors. Council noted that economic diversification must be taken with all commitment, in view of the current harsh economic situation. It also emphasized that agriculture needs to be more seriously embarked upon by all governments and citizens with renewed vigor because the Federal Government is pursuing Self-Sufficiency in food production with all seriousness,” he emphasised.

He said other decisions reached at the meeting included a call for agriculture to be more seriously embarked upon by all governments and citizens with a renewed vigor and increasing rice production capacity from 40,000 – 100,000 tons per day by rice mills in Nigeria, amongst others.

The 69th NEC meeting, which was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had all the states of the federation represented by their Governors or their Deputies.