Nigerian economy not in distress – Tinubu

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Abuja, March 5, 2024 – President Bola Tinubu says Nigerian economy is not in distress, contrary to some speculations.

Tinubu said this on Tuesday in reference to the Theme of Leadership Newspaper’s 2023 Awards Ceremony which was “An Economy in Distress: Which Way Forward?”

Tinubu, who was represented by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said the country was facing some challenges, but not in recession.

“I should start by respectfully challenging the notion that the Nigerian economy is in distress. Distress suggests helplessness, being at the mercy of something we have no control over. But that is not the case here.

“We are in challenging times, no doubt, but these times have also been marked by unprecedented opportunities, to reset course and to build a new and sustainable economy, away from the rent-seeking and the waste that was once the order of the day.

“The Leadership Group has itself alluded to the “difficult but necessary” decisions that we have taken.

“Since the removal of petrol subsidies, our imports of petrol have dropped by about 50 percent, which translates to roughly 1 billion litres of petrol every month, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics.

“In addition, the revenues accruing to the three tiers of Government – Federal, State, and Local – have grown by between 50 percent and 100 percent since the removal of the petrol subsidy.

“This means more funds are available to directly impact the lives of Nigerians through investments in critical infrastructure, social security, and other areas.

“For example, the additional funding we are receiving is going into a new minimum wage for which negotiations have started, between the Federal and State Governments and Organized Labour.

“I have approved the disbursement of N200 billion naira, through three (3) new special intervention funds established to support Nigerian businesses.

“The first is a 50 billion naira Presidential Conditional Grant Scheme (PCGS) that will provide business grants and loans to traders, food vendors, transport workers, ICT businesses, creatives, and artisans. Verification of all submitted applications is ongoing, and disbursements will commence through the Bank of Industry (BOI) as soon as this verification is completed.

“The second is a 75 billion naira FGN MSME Intervention Fund that will provide single-digit-interest loans to our MSMEs.

“The third is a 75 billion naira FGN Manufacturing Sector Fund targeting manufacturing businesses, with selected beneficiaries eligible to access up to 1 billion Naira each.

“In addition, our new Federal Student Loan program will take off within the next few weeks, providing interest-free financing not just for students in our tertiary institutions but also covering those in vocational and skill acquisition programs as well.

“For the poorest and most vulnerable among us, the Social Investment Programme, currently under review to reposition it for maximum impact, will support millions of households with direct cash transfers that will enable them to meet their basic needs.

“I have approved 100 billion naira for a Presidential Initiative on CNG, which will deliver CNG-powered buses and engine conversion kits. Let me ask Nigerians for a little more patience as we await the imminent rollout of these CNG-powered buses which will bring down the cost of transportation by as much as 50 percent.

“In the area of food security, I am pleased to say that our dry season farming program which kicked off with wheat in November 2023 is well on course, and we are already set for the first round of harvest.

“We have received tremendous support from partners like the African Development Bank (AfDB) in this regard.

“As part of our own commitments as a Government, I have approved 100 billion naira for the National Agricultural Development Fund for the year 2024, while we have commenced the repositioning of the Bank of Agriculture to better deliver on its mandate.”

“Since we assumed office in May 2023, we have attracted $30 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) commitments into the real sectors of the economy, including Manufacturing, Telecoms, Healthcare, Oil & Gas, and others. Those investments have already started coming into the country.

“Just a few days ago, I was in Qatar on an official visit, where the Emir assured me that a senior government delegation would visit Nigeria after Ramadan, to begin taking action on some of the new investments they are looking at here.

“I have asked the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy to directly interface with the Qatari authorities to ensure that speedy progress is made.

“The Nigerian economy saw a better than anticipated performance in the last quarter of 2023, growing by 3.46% (year-on-year), compared with 2.54% in the preceding quarter.

“Capital Importation into Nigeria was up 66% in Q4 2023, reversing a 36% decline in the previous quarter.

“In January 2024, the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index (ASI) crossed the 100,000 points mark, its highest ever.

“There is no one who looks at this data who will conclude that “distressed” is the accurate way to describe the Nigerian economy.

“Yes, we are challenged in a number of ways. But these are the outcomes of necessary reforms, and a lot of effort and energy is going into alleviating these pains and setting the economy on firm footing.

“And we are seeing incredible opportunities for investment in every sector of the economy, as we stabilize our foreign exchange market and our macroeconomic indices.

“I ask for the continuing patience and support of all Nigerians, including the elite that is very well represented in this room today.

“To the Nigerian media, I urge you to strive to report not only the challenges but also the solutions and the opportunities as well. Ours is a story of a country that is taking the right steps, and feeling the fleeting pains that will come with this course of action. A glorious dawn is indeed assured.” (GBN)

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