The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari deserves credit for taking Nigeria out of recession twice, rather than be blamed for the two economic declines in four years.
According to the Buhari Media Organisation, BMO, while reacting to UK-based magazine, The Economist’s article on Nigeria, “taking a country out of economic recession twice is unprecedented anywhere in the world”.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that it was wrong for the magazine to suggest that the recessions had to do with policy failure.
“We find it strange that a magazine of that stature would form a conclusion on the two recessions in the life of the Buhari administration without bothering to put issues in proper perspectives.
“So we are constrained to clear the air on some of the misconceptions in the writeup that has since been reproduced in the local media and is currently trending on social media.
“For starters, we acknowledge that the 2016 recession happened at a time that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration had barely spent one year in office, but there are facts, even in the public domain, showing that the country’s economy had been on a downward spiral since the second quarter of 2014 as a result of a global oil slump.
“It beggars belief that a magazine that prides itself as an authority in global economic issues was unaware of the three consecutive declines in Nigeria’s GDP in 2014 from a high of 6 per cent to 2.35 per cent by the time Buhari was sworn in on May 29 2015.
“So we make bold to say that contrary to the picture it sought to paint by describing the administration as bumbling in its handling of the economy, it actually did a good job by reversing the trend and taking the country out of recession in record time.
“A similar feat was also achieved when Nigeria, like the rest of the world, went into recession as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but recorded a swift turnaround that stunned the whole world.
“It is interesting to note that the non-oil sector was instrumental to the country’s quick exit from recession by consistently contributing over 90 per cent to aggregate GDP inspite of the magazine’s claim of little or no effort to diversify the economy.
“So we wonder why a magazine which even rated Nigeria quite high in its global normalcy index could pretend that the feat was negligible even after the latest figure showed a 5 per cent economic growth”.
BMO also argued that the magazine was wrong in its assessment of the impact of the government’s decision to shut its borders in 2019.
“When the Buhari administration opted to shut its land borders temporarily, it was a well-thought-out decision that was taken, amongst others, to boost local rice production; indeed Nigeria is today Africa’s top rice producer, but this obviously does not suit the agenda of ‘The Economist’.
“As for its claim of galloping food inflation which is put at 20 per cent this is certainly not true as a simple Google search would have shown those who wrote that editorial that it is less than that at 17 per cent after a monthly drop-in inflation rate since the first quarter of the year.
“What this means is that contrary to the impression the magazine tried to create, the Buhari administration has been steadily growing the economy at a time that countries with more structured economies are witnessing a slump.
“This is one of the reasons we were bold to say that Nigeria will surpass the 2.7 per cent growth projection by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for 2022.
“And lest we forget, ‘The Economist’ was quite bullish with its claim that 40 per cent of Nigerians were living below the poverty line just before COVID-19 set in. We want to refer its editors to a 2010 report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which put the country’s poverty figure at the time at about 60.9 per cent of the population.
”The 2004 figure, by the way, was 54.7 per cent so it is safe to say more people have been cycled out of poverty in recent years”.
The group reaffirmed the Buhari administration’s commitment to weaning the country of its overreliance on oil by ensuring that the non-oil sector’s contribution to the GDP is consistently high.