Let me congratulate Nigerians over the good news.According to the  National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the economy grew by 0.55 percent in  GDP terms for Q2 2017. While this is good news for the good people of Nigeria,  it be very sad news for the purveyors of fake news, disinformation and  hate speech.

Lai Mohammed

Why? Because part of the reasons they have devoted their energies to spreading  lies about the Administration is to pull the wool over the eyes of  Nigerians and give  the impression that the Administration is not working.

Taking Nigeria out of recession did not happen by accident. It is  the culmination of months ofhard work by the Administration and fidelity to its well-articulated  economic policies, especially the  Strategic Implementation Programme (SIP) and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) that  was launched  on 5th  April, 2017.

Though Nigeria has been on the path towards recession since

mid-2014 due to a combination of factors, including the total

dependence on a mono product – oil – and the failure to save during  the boom years, the country officially slipped into recession in the  2nd Quarter of 2016. Of course, as you all know, a recession is  generally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth in  Gross Domestic Product (GDP, which measures the economic performance  of a country by how much production of goods and services it achieves,  usually over the course of a year).

This recession presented a scenario of contracted GDP (0.67%),  stagflation, which occurs when periods of low economic growth or  Economic Contraction in GDP coincide with periods of elevated  Inflation, which is often accompanied by high levels of Unemployment.

At the same time, inflation increased from 9% in Jan 2016 to 18.6% in  December of the same year; unemployment rate rose above 14% and there  was a massive foreign reserves decline

But things are looking up now. For Nigeria to be out of recession  means the Administration has take some right steps that have  culminated in the good news that we are celebrating now. It didn’t  just happen. Let me quickly run through some of those

incrementally-positive steps that have brought us the good news.

GDP: The economy which had consistently slowed down since 2014  bottomed out in the third quarter of 2016 and has improved

consistently since then. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which has been  declining since 2015, improved thereafter to -1.73% in Q4 2016, and  -0.91% in Q1 2017. Finally, GDP grew by 0.55% on Q2 2017!   This positive  growth is attributable to both the oil and non-oil sectors of the economy.

Growth in the oil sector, which has been negative since Q4 2015, was positive  in Q2 2017. It rose by 1.64% as compared to -15.60 in Q1 2017, an increase  of up to 17 percentage points.

The non-oil sector grew by 0.45% in Q2 2017, a second successive quarterly  growth after growing 0.72% in Q1 2017. In particular, improvement in the non-oil  sector was driven principally by strong growth in agriculture and solid minerals  sector, and reversal in the previous contraction of the manufacturing and  construction sector. This shows that the government’s economic  diversification programme is working. The positive growth seen in agriculture  when the rest of the economy was contracting was maintained at 3.01%, which is  encouraging especially if seasonal factors are taken into account.

Manufacturing  growth was also positive at 0.64% and, although lower than the  previous quarter’s  growth of 1.36%, was an a noticeable improvement over the -3.36% experienced inQ2 2016 and a continuation of the turnaround of the sector.

Similarly, another area  of focus of this administration, which is solid minerals, has also  grown strongly  despite the recession in 2016, growing at an average of 5.63% between  Q2 2016 and Q4 2016. In Q1 2017 however, the solid mineral sector grew  significantly by 46%. Also, the Creative Industry continues to do very  well. The industry, which grew by 3.72% in 2016, performed even better  and grew by 11.67% in Q1 2017. The economy has also witnessed areversal in the contraction in the manufacturing and construction  sector.

Overall, industry as a whole grew by 1.45% in Q2 2017 after nine successive  quarters of contraction starting in Q4 2014.

INFLATION: The inflation rate rose astronomically in 2016 from 9.03%  in January to over 18% by December 2016. This has however improved as  the inflation rate has consistently declined every month since January  2017. It was 16% as of July 2017. Yes, food prices are still high, butthat is being addressed with appropriate monetary, fiscal and trade  policies as stated in the ERGP. Our target is to take it down to about  11% by the end of the year and under single digits by 2020.

FOREIGN TRADE:   Nigeria’s trade balance was negative for most of 2016.

However, total exports for the period under review stood at ¦ 3,005.9  billion, while total imports stood at ¦ 2,286.5 billion. The rise in  exports, coupled with a decrease in imports, brought the country’s  trade balance to ¦ 719.4 billion during the period, up from ¦ 671.3  billion. This represents the second consecutive positive trade balance  after 4 quarters of negative trade balance. More noteworthy is the  improvement in the exports of agriculture, solid minerals andmanufactured goods which have been the focus of government.

CAPITAL IMPORTATION/FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT: As the economy slowed  down since mid-2014, foreign investment and capital inflows also  slowed down. However, since the beginning of 2016 to June 2017,  capital has begun to return to the Nigerian economy. The total value  of capital imported into Nigeria in the second quarter of 2017 was  estimated to be $1,792.3 million. This figure was $884.1 million more  than the figure recorded in Q1 2017, a growth of 95.02 percent. Year  on year, this was an increase of 43.6 per cent from the $1,042.2million recorded in Q2 of 2016.

FOREIGN RESERVES AND EXCHANGE RATE: Nigeria’s external reserves hit a  30-month high of $31.5 billion in July 2017, reversing a trend in a  decline when it dropped to US$23.89 billion by October 2016. The  steady upward trend in the reserves, especially since July 7th, 2017,  was buoyed by improved foreign exchange inflow occasioned by positive  developments in crude oil prices since early 2017 as well as  improvement in the inflow of foreign capital as discussed earlier. The  value of the Naira in the parallel market has appreciated  significantly in recent times against the US dollar. It has  appreciated from N520/$ as at 20th  February 2017 to N392/$ in April  and further to about N362/$ as at 17th August 2017 due to the  continuous intervention by the CBN and improved Foreign Portfolio and  Foreign Direct Investment flows, following the introduction of the  Investors & Exporters forex window. However, the official exchange  rate has been held at just above N305/$.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Current data on the country’s unemployment rate is still  being awaited. However, from the available data, unemployment still  poses a challenge. The rate increased from 13.9% in Q3 2016 to 14.2%  in Q4 2016. The high increase is attributed to the high rate of our  population growth and the contraction in growth in 2016.   However, as  the economy recovers, with private economic activities firming up, it  is expected that unemployment rate will decline in subsequent  quarters. Similarly, with the increased momentum in the implementationof the social intervention programmes (including the N-Power  initiative) which started in Q4 2016, unemployment rate is expected to  reduce. N power which is the job creation cluster for unemployed  graduates, has 200,000 people employed, and 300,000 more are set to  join.

NATIONAL HOME GROWN SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME: Today 3,065,000 school children in 36 states are served one free meal a day   in order  to make learning more conducive. The School Feeding Programme has also  employed 12,000 Cooks across the 36 States and FCT.

CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFER: So far, over 30,000 households have  benefited from the N5,000 monthly stipend under the programme.

GOVERNMENT ENTERPRISE AND EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMME: About 120,000 peoplehave benefited from the cooperative loans under the Programme.

There is more good news. The Transportation and Storage sector  contributed 1.33% to total GDP in Q1 2017, rose slightly from Q1 2016  and Q4 2016, with 1.20% and 1.19% respectively. Also, the power  situation has improved, as power generation has increased from 2,690MW toover 6,000MW presently.

Let’s not forget that despite the removal of fuel subsidy, queues  have disappeared from filling stations nationwide. In fact, the NNPC  announced  on Sunday  that its sustained strategic intervention in the  efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products had led to a  significant fall in the price of petrol, from 145 Naira to between 142  and 143 Naira per litre, across the country.

Massive road and railway construction work across the country are  bring back many jobs that have been lost in that sector. Remember that  for three years before this government came in, contractors were not  paid. That’s now history.

These positive  developments do not constitute news. That’s why they make up their own  fake news, and engage in disinformation and hate speech. They believe  that by seeking to overwhelm the polity with fake news, disinformation  and hate speech, they can easily obliterate the glaring achievements  of the Buhari Administration.

We must not allow them to dominate the media space. This  Administration is working and the results are showing.

Being the text of a speech by the Hon Minister of Information and  Culture, Alhaji  Lai Mohammed, at the 4th Annual Conference of the Association of Communication  Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria, in Kano on Wednesday 6th Sept. 2017




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