Presidency reacts to PREMIUM TIMES story; but ignores World Bank report

Former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan

The presidency said individual world bank chiefs praised its performance.

The presidency on Wednesday ignored a World Bank report which showed an increase in poverty and unemployment during the Jonathan presidency, preferring instead to focus on statements of individual officials of the global financial institution.

In a statement by the Special Assistant to the President (New Media), Reno Omokri, on Wednesday, the presidency reacted to a PREMIUM TIMES story, and claimed that it was not indicted by the report.

“Our attention has been drawn to a headline in an online news media, Premium Times, with the title “World Bank indicts Jonathan’s government, says massive poverty, unemployment killing Nigerians”. This headline, which is not supported by the story it purported to highlight, is totally untrue and false.”

The World Bank had in its ‘Nigeria Economic Report’ May, 2013, described a worsening unemployment and poverty situation in Nigeria despite official GDP growth and other statistic provided by the Jonathan administration.

“While the officially reported growth rates of GDP well exceed population growth in the country, the pace of poverty reduction does not, this implies that the number of poor Nigerians living below the poverty line has grown measurably,” the World Bank said.

The Bank also said unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased since 2011.

“Job creation in Nigeria has been inadequate to keep pace with the expanding working age population. The official unemployment rate has steadily increased from 12% of the working age population in 2006 to 24% in 2011. Preliminary indications are that this upward trend continued in 2012,” it said.

Rather than address these indictments and others of the Jonathan administration, the presidency, in its eight paragraph reaction, completely ignored the World Bank report and instead focused on earlier statements of individual World Bank chiefs.

“It is a matter of record that the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Mr. Mouktar Diop, visited Nigeria in January of 2013 and on the 15th of January he praised the Jonathan administration for reducing poverty in Nigeria by 2%. His endorsement of the Nigerian economy was widely published by the print, electronic and New Media,” the presidency said.

“Also, on the 7th of May 2013, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Ms. Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly,addressed a press conference and revealed that the World Bank has promoted Nigeria from a low income country ranking to a medium income position saying the level of endemic poverty in the country has reduced.”

To buttress its argument, Mr. Omokri also quoted the British Prime Minister, David Cameron.

“This may account for the comments by the British Prime Minister in his speech before the Conservative Party on October 10 2012 where he said “Yes, we’ve been hearing about China and India for years …but it’s hard to believe what’s happening in Brazil, in Indonesia, in Nigeria too. Meanwhile, the old powers are on the slide. What do the countries on the rise have in common? They are lean, fit, obsessed with enterprise, spending money on the future – on education, incredible infrastructure and technology,” Mr. Omokri added.


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