President Buhari Inaugurates Committee on National Economy

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that despite the disruptions in global economy and internal troubles, the Nigerian economy has continued to be resilient and maintains an upward trajectory.

Speaking on Friday at the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on the National Economy, President Buhari said the COVID-19 pandemic; the war in Ukraine and the loss of substantial volumes of oil have had negative impacts on the Nigerian economy.

“Starting with COVID-19 and now the conflict in Ukraine, the past three years have been turbulent ones for the global economy. Global interdependence has become more apparent as we have had to deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

“In this period, challenges faced by the world have been many including: (i) lockdowns as COVID-19 raged; (ii) disruptions to supply chains around the world; and (iii) sharp fluctuations in prices.

“Just as the world was beginning to recover from the coronavirus, the conflict in the Black Sea region between Ukraine and Russia worsened the challenges already being faced and created additional problems to which policy makers are having to respond.

“Our economy continues to grow despite the adverse effects of rising interest rates, a stronger US dollar and higher inflation across the world,” he said.

The President noted, however, that some of the problems could be addressed internally, making the constitution of the seasoned economic experts expedient:

“It is however important to note that some of the issues we must address are peculiar to us. For example, the decline in our production of crude oil. It is estimated that last month, August 2022, we produced less than 1mn barrels. The fall in production is essentially due to economic sabotage.

“With the high price of oil in the world markets, producing at about half our OPEC quota has deprived us of much needed revenue and foreign exchange. Government is working tirelessly to reverse this situation,” he added.

The Presidential Committee on the Economy is chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari and has as members the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum; Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister for Finance, Budget, and National Planning; Niyi Adebayo, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment; and Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum.

Other members include Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to the President; Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Dr. Mohammed Sagagi, Vice Chairman of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council.

The Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Doyin Salami, is Member/Secretary of the Committee.

Welfare of Citizens

President Buhari, however, assured Nigerians that despite these hiccups, necessitating borrowings from financial sources, the current administration remains committed to the welfare of the citizens, especially the implementation of the Social Investment Programmes.

According to him, “While citizen concern about borrowing is well understood, our resort to borrowing must also be appreciated in the context of the resources required to deliver on the infrastructure, health and other socio-economic needs of our citizens.

“It remains a major goal of this Administration to continue pursuing its social protection programmes. These programmes provide support to the most vulnerable of our citizens.”

The Nigerian leader stressed the need to upscale resource mobilization and utilization in the country as more could be achieved in this direction.

“This Administration is also not unaware of the debates about resource mobilisation and utilisation. On resource mobilisation, our performance as a nation continues to be a source of concern.

“Tax revenues are approximately 8 percent of our output. This compares very badly with those countries against which we measure ourselves that achieve 15-25 per cent. In the absence of revenue, our ability to deliver the most basic services is limited,” he said

Fuel Subsidy

President Buhari said that while he understands the concerns arising from the huge expenditure on fuel subsidy, it is expedient that a right balance be struck not to scare away investors:

“With respect to expenditure, our objective remains to ensure that spending is efficient and result oriented. In this regard, the debate around fuel subsidies is well noted. However, the right balance needs to be struck to ensure that as we protect our citizens, we do not leave room for inefficiencies and leakages.

“It is also important to ensure that our national investment environment is such that local and international private investors can be attracted and retained. Sustainably dealing with the challenge of policy predictability and coherence is an important element in this regard,” the President added.


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