*Directs govt agencies on what to do
*Stolen money threat to national security;
*FG needs support to survive recession;
*PDP borrowed heavily to postpone doomsday
By Charles Kumolu
THE Presidency has said that prior to the confirmation by the National Bureau of Statistics that Nigeria was now officially in recession critical measures were already ongoing to get the country out of the prevailing economic decline.
As a direct response to the fiscal crisis, it said the Federal Government and its agencies were now focusing on agriculture, solid minerals, taxation, infrastructure, industrialisation, plugging leakages, anti-corruption and reducing the cost of governance among others.
A functional framework, it said, had been put in place at all levels of government to ensure that current reforms at resuscitating the economy result in a more stable growth that would not be dependent on global oil prices.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, who said these in a 2,176-page piece, dismissed insinuations that the government lacked a clear response to the cash crunch, adding that key sectors where the nation had comparative advantage were being developed.
The statement which examined the current crisis within the context of insinuations that it was either caused or accentuated by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, said the immediate past administration had postponed the current downturn by borrowing heavily to run the country in addition to the oil revenue it generated.
Hence, the admonishment that the present administration should not be blamed for the prevailing hardship across the country, noting the government was only acting truthfully in accordance with the state of the economy.
He, however, said that calls for the country to forget the past misgovernance and move ahead were inimical to efforts at reviving the economy, noting that the wrongs of the past must be corrected to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
In that regard, Shehu pointed out that the quantum of funds stolen in the past, if not recovered, could likely be deployed in threatening well-intentioned efforts of the Buhari administration.
However, he said the present circumstance demands patriotism and sacrifice from all Nigerians to ensure that the country returns to sustainable growth.
His words:‘’ See what the current administration is doing to sanitize the huge salary bill by eliminating payroll fraud. So far, the federal payroll has been rid of about 40,000 ghost workers. More than eight billion Naira stolen monthly has been saved.
‘’We are also saving on wasteful expenses like First Class travels and use of private jets for official trips. The federal government is not limiting the reforms to the center but forcing state governments to reform their spending and build savings or investments.
‘’Government is also increasing spending on capital projects especially on infrastructure needed to make Nigerian businesses competitive and create jobs. The administration is at the same time blocking leakages that allowed government revenues to be siphoned into private hands.
‘’Currently, there is a focus on key sectors apart from oil that can create jobs and or generate revenue such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing. If these things had been done when the oil price was as high as $140 per barrel, Nigeria would not be in the current predicament. We would not be suffering now if we had cash reserves, regular supply of power, a good rail system, good roads and good housing.
‘’ From its records so far, this administration is trying to reset the Nigerian economy and ensure that it attains its potential. We are doing this at a time when the global economy is in crisis due to the oil price collapse. Even rich nations like Saudi Arabia are experiencing problems
The government is people-focused and wants the economy to grow in a way that will create a more stable future which is not dictated by world oil prices. No more boom and bust.
‘’Nigeria wants to take responsibility for its own destiny. Therefore, our policies will ensure that Nigeria returns to growth in a sustainable manner. No more dependence on oil. Every part of Nigeria has a role to play in contributing to our growth. We will create an environment where people can thrive and where businesses can grow.”