“Nigeria’s recession has been brought about by a critical shortage of foreign exchange. Oil price dropped from an average of $100 per barrel over the last decade to an average of $40 per barrel this year and last,” President Muhammadu Buhari lamented in his Independence Day speech on October 1.
He also blamed the vandalism of oil assets by the Niger Delta thugs who have reduced oil production to below one million barrels daily.
“Consequently, the naira is at its weakest, but the situation will stabilise,” he assured.
Speaking further, Buhari said about half of Nigeria;s dollar export earnings go to importation of petroleum and food products.
“Nothing was saved for the rainy days during the periods of prosperity. We are now reaping the whirlwinds of corruption, recklessness and impunity.”
He emphasised there are no easy solutions, but there are solutions nonetheless, and his government is pursuing them in earnest.
“We are to repair our four refineries so that Nigeria can produce most of our petrol requirements locally, pending the coming on stream of new refineries. That way we will save $10bin yearly in importing fuel.”
On the economic crisis facing the county, Buhari said he was aware of the difficulties being faced by Nigerians.
He added that as a salary earner all his adult life, he is also aware of the problem inherent in insufficient salary.
“The recession for many individuals and families is real. For some it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it’s not being able to afford the high cost of food (rice and millet) or the high cost of local or international travel, and for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic.
“But let me say to all Nigerians today, I ran for office four times to make the point that we can rule this nation with honesty and transparency, that we can stop the stealing of Nigeria’s resources so that the resources could be used to provide jobs for our young people, security, infrastructure for commerce, education and healthcare.”
He said he knows that good government is the only way to ensure prosperity and abundance for all. I remain resolutely committed to this objective.
“Temporary problems should not blind or divert us from the corrective course this government has charted for our nation. We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions.”
He equally restated the challenges his government came to tackle: security, corruption and the economy, especially unemployment and the alarming level of poverty.
The president insisted that on security, his administration had made progress by defeating the Boko Haram last December, leaving the sect resorting to cowardly attacks on soft targets, killing innocent men, women and children.
Buhari also said his administration is confronting other long-running security issues, including herdsmen vs farmers, cattle rustling, and kidnappings.
He then warned the Niger Delta militants who have been vandalising oil installations, saying his administration would no longer tolerate their excesses.