The Presidency has reacted to the former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Chukwuma Soludo, who accused the President Muhammadu Buhari administration of worsening the state of Nigeria’s economy since it took over almost two years ago.
Soludo, a professor of economics on Thursday said Nigeria’s plight has grown beyond recession to “massive economic compression”.
Speaking at ‘Big Ideas Podium’, a public policy debate organised by the Afri Heritage Institution in Enugu, Soludo acknowledged the fact that the president inherited a bad situation, but said he has “made it worse”.
He said: “Buhari met a very bad situation when he assumed power, but he has made the situation worse. Nigeria today is a fragile state with a failing economy. Some say failing state; some say failed state.”
“The economy is not just in recession; we are suffering from massive economic compression. Saying it is recession trivialises the issue.
“It will be a miracle if after eight years, by the time it leaves office in 2023, the current administration is able to return the economy in dollar terms to the exchange rate it met when it took over.
“The truth is this government inherited a very bad situation, but it has made it very much worse.” Getting us out here is not a tea-party. Nigerians should rise in unity. It should no longer be ‘let them.’ Only united citizens can rescue Nigeria out of this position.”
However, reacting to the statement later in the day, the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, said Mr. Soludo had ignored the new direction the government was leading the economy in a manner that suggested “selective amnesia”.
In a statement, Mr Akande stressed that the former CBN governor was entitled to his “opinion”, while Nigerians were entitled to “facts” about the economy.
He said: “The opinion he (Soludo) expressed is understandable in a democratic system, but the facts are that the challenges of today are a direct result of wrong-headed decisions of the past, and quite mind-boggling actions of those who were entrusted with leadership.”
He said it was undeniable that the Buhari government was working hard to change the economy.
“What even Soludo cannot deny is the fact that the Buhari administration has ended the bleeding of the nation and is implementing reforms.
“The Buhari administration is spending more on infrastructure at a time when resources are lean. When we had abundant revenues what happened was profligacy and plunder,” he said.
“What no one can deny is that the Buhari administration is now implementing on behalf of ordinary Nigerians a Social Investment Programme that is unprecedented in Nigeria’s history, paying poorest Nigerians N5,000 monthly, feeding school children and engaging hundreds of thousands of unemployed graduates,” he said.
“Apart from plugging loopholes in several ways, including through the Treasury Single Account, he said the Buhari administration was raking in resources that otherwise were hidden and misappropriated by the previous administrations.”