PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria’s economy has become more resilient due to strategies his administration deployed.
Buhari disclosed this while delivering his farewell speech on Sunday, May 28, ahead of his exit from office tomorrow.
“Nigeria’s economy has become more resilient due to various strategies put in place to ensure that our economy remains afloat during cases of global economic downturns,” he said.
Speaking of the economic challenges experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Buhari said the swift response of his administration during the period, among other strategies, contributed to strengthening the nation’s economy.
“The deftness of our response to the pandemic still remains a global best practice. Furthermore, we increased the ability of the poor and rural Nigerians to earn a living, provide more food for millions in our villages and gave our women opportunities to earn a living.
“Young men and women in urban centres were also supported to put their skills into productive use. Our administration also provided an enabling environment for the private sector to engage in businesses for which their return on investment is guaranteed,” he said.
The president’s claims are, however, inconsistent with available data on development indices like inflation, foreign exchange and gross domestic product (GDP) rates.
The president’s claim of increasing citizens’ ability to earn a living also contrasts with the current 33.3 per cent unemployment rate, which increased by almost 400 per cent under Buhari’s administration.
Before Buhari assumed office in 2015, Nigeria dealt with a single-digit inflation rate of 9.01 per cent. However, this figure increased by almost 75 per cent in 2016, about a year into his administration, when it rose to 15.68.
The country has witnessed a steady surge in inflation rates, which currently stands at 22.22 per cent, according to data from the National Bureau of Statics (NBS).
Food prices have also soared over the years, and the naira has been steadily devalued under Buhari’s administration.
Due to harmful policies like the naira redesign and consequent cash crunch, which resulted in severe hardship for Nigerians, the nation’s GDP declined by 2.31 per cent in the first quarter of 2023, according to the NBS.
While speaking on Nigeria’s economy at The ICIR Twitter Space on Friday, May 19, a development economist, Kelvin Emmanuel, also pointed out that realities in Nigeria contradict previous claims by the government of economic improvement.
“If inflation is at 22.04 per cent and MPR is at 18 per cent, by the time we add management, appraisal, facilitation, and documentation fees and others, the commercial lending rate would have gone to between 28 per cent and 31 per cent.
“How can a company, for example, borrow money at a 31 per cent interest rate and still be in business?” Emmanuel asked.
Buhari, however, maintained in his farewell speech that difficult economic choices made by his administration yielded desired results.