BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN & HENRY UMORU
ABUJA—THE qualified approval given Nigeria’s short and long term economic prospects by the global rating agency, Fitch Ratings, yesterday, stirred different reactions from the Presidency and the leading opposition party, All Progressives Congress, APC.
While the Presidency immediately hailed the report as a vindication of President Goodluck Jonathan’s economic success story and correctness of its transformation agenda, the opposition APC flayed the hurray by the Presidency as crass ignorance of the harsh economic situation on ground.
Acting National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told Vanguard that Nigerians are not daft for Fitch to let them know that their economy is improving.
Fitch, in its latest report on the country had affirmed Nigeria’s long-term foreign and local currency, Issuer Default Ratings, IDR, and senior unsecured bond ratings at ‘BB-’ and ‘BB’ respectively, with a stable outlook.
Fitch also affirmed Nigeria’s short-term foreign currency IDR at ‘B’ and country ceiling at ‘BB-’.
The rating agency nevertheless expressed concern that strong vested interests ahead of the 2015 elections could make structural reform in Nigeria a continual struggle.
Reacting to the rating, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe stressed that the report and rating were clear indications that the administration of President Jonathan was moving the nation towards what he termed sustainable development, economic growth and stability in line with the promises made to the electorate during the electioneering campaign.
According to Okupe, “the latest rating of the Nigerian economy by Global Rating Agency, Fitch, which acknowledged the landmark reforms being undertaken by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in the electricity and agricultural sectors, as well as growing investors’ confidence in the Nigerian economy, is an attestation to the success story of the President’s socio-economic blue print contained in the transformation agenda.
Countering the presidency, Lai Mohammed said: “If you read that report very well it does not contradict the position of the opposition. The issue is that as long as the rating does not translate to more jobs, better infrastructure, better security, food on the table of Nigerians, it is meaningless. It is like an operation being successful and the patient dies.”
“It also talks of weak governance which means lack of institutions. The position of the opposition is very clear; it is that you don’t go home and say I have just gotten promotion at work and yet you can’t pay rent, you can’t say that your brothers are so proud of you.”
“For the economy to grow and to be meaningful to the average person, you need to create more jobs, create wealth, create employment opportunities, provide infrastructure and as long as it does not do that, it would simply remain meaningless.”
“It is important to say that must we wait for Fitch for us to know our economy is improving? In the US what they use to measure whether the economy is improving or not every quarter is, how many jobs were created? What was the purchasing power of the average American in that quarter?”
“They now ask, what of the retail market, what did they make? Finally, how many jobs were created or lost. Nigerians are not that daft that they need Fitch to know that their economy is improving.”
Mohammed who spoke while on the road said: “I am on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way in Ikeja, I can see school certificate holders who are selling paw-paw, I can see people hawking rat killers. Let them tell us how many people the economy absorbed. How many people got gainful employment.”
“Look at SURE-P for instance, you don’t create jobs through SURE-P you are not creating jobs, you are just creating an army of beggars, an army of dependents who will come up the next month to take their ten thousand. No economy has ever grown that way,” he said.