The Nigerian government has blamed past administrations for the current economic crisis that has left many families struggling to feed and to survive.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said on Thursday that Nigerians are suffering today because past governments did not properly manage the country’s oil wealth.
Mr. Mohammed spoke at the 2016 edition of the All Nigeria Editors Conference in Port Harcourt. He urged the media to trace the story of hardship to its beginning.
“Nigeria has nothing to rely on to cushion the effects of the lost earnings. Many other oil producing countries and fellow OPEC members are faring better, because they saved for the rainy day. Saudi Arabia, with about one fifth of Nigeria’s population, has in foreign reserves about 600 billion dollars (which is 23 times what Nigeria has in foreign reserves),” he said.
“United Arab Emirates, with less than 10 million people, has 75 billion dollars in foreign reserves. Qatar, with 2.4 million people, has 36 billion dollars in foreign reserves. Even Angola, with just 24 million people, has about 25 billion dollars in foreign reserves,” Mr. Mohammed said.
There have been increasing criticisms of the government’s response to the economic crisis that has caused increase in prices, pay cuts and owed salaries, job losses and growing unemployment.
On Wednesday, fiery Catholic Priest, Ejike Mbaka, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of focusing more on fighting corruption than responding to an economic emergency that has left many families struggling or unable to feed.
“It is not easy everywhere. Hunger everywhere. As the president is fighting corruption, some of us are praying that he will equally fight hunger. Hunger is in the atmosphere,” Mr. Mbaka said in a sermon to his congregation on July 23, 2016.
“All this noise about EFCC arrest this and that, after one week that one is over. People are dying of hunger. Dollar is growing every day and naira is dying every day. Euro is rising every day and naira is collapsing every day. Pounds is on hike every day–on a mega level- and naira is dwindling–on a hyper level.
“The landlords are crying, tenants are lamenting. Sellers are crying. Buyers are lamenting. There is hunger on the street. Many students are being rusticated from school, why? Because they can’t pay for school feels. Proprietors are distressed. Many companies are winding up. The economy is hard.”
But the information minister, Mr. Mohammed, said Nigeria’s economy is hard hit by the fall in the price of crude oil because the country failed to save for the rainy day.
He said the previous governments also failed to invest in infrastructure.
Mr. Mohammed said Nigerians should know that people are suffering today because previous administrations did not save.
“We are not saying we should continue to lament about missed opportunities, the massive corruption or profligacy of the past, but is it is important for Nigerians to know where and when the rain started beating them; that no provision was made for any umbrella to shield them from the elements, and that indeed genuine efforts are now being made to turn things around,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed urged the media to spread the message of hope proposed by the current administration to the Nigerian people.
”We must give hope to our people, while also giving encouragement to those who are working non-stop to revamp our economy,” he said.