Remarks by the Hon Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during a courtesy visit by the Broadcast Media Editors in Abuja

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Alh. Lai Mohammed

PREAMBLE

As you are very much aware, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on Tuesday that Nigeria is finally out of recession. At a forum in Kano the following day, I did say this development has shown that this Administration is working and the results are showing.

2. After all, we didn’t come out of recession by accident. It is the culmination of months of hard work by the Administration and a dogged commitment to its well-articulated economic policies, especially the Strategic Implementation Economic Recovery (2016) and the Growth Plan (ERGP) that was launched on 5th April, 2017.

3. I recall saying in Kano that to naysayers, this return to positive growth is not news, hence they will do everything possible to downplay it. I had barely finished that speech when they started their antics. Some say getting out of recession is mere statistics and does not mean anything, as if it is not the same statistics that was used to say that Nigeria had slipped into recession in Q2 2016.

4. Others are wondering why getting out of recession has not led to an immediate reduction in food prices, as if they don’t realize that an economy that is just coming out of recession is like a man who is just recovering from an illness. It takes a little bit of time for him to start doing the ‘big’ things he used to do prior to falling sick. He has to fully recover!

5. The standard of living of Nigerians will eventually improve as we continue to grow the economy. This is why the ERGP includes investing in our people as one its key objectives. By the way, with the first objective of the ERGP – to restore growth to a positive path – having been achieved, the worst is over! This indicates that our economic conditions have started improving and we are now on a gradual path to full recovery. THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF BETTER DAYS. Investor’s confidence is gradually returning to Nigeria. The macro-environment is gradually being stabilized and investors are showing greater interest in the economy. More jobs will be created.

6. The government’s target as specified in the ERGP is to achieve at least 1.5% growth this year, and then 3.5%, 4.5% and 7% by 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. And we are committed to achieving these targets.

7. We acknowledge that food prices are still high, but that is being addressed with appropriate monetary, fiscal and trade policies as stated in the ERGP.

8. To naysayers, I will say: This issue should not be politicized. An issue that affects the welfare of our citizens should not be toyed with. Let us all appreciate what this Administration has done in returning our economy to the path of positive growth and then support and encourage it to do more. Trying to downplay what has been achieved is bad politics. I know this good news of our emergence from recession has hit the naysayers very hard. But they should recover quickly and embrace the good news. Sorry, but it can neither be denied nor wished away

9. Now, with the emergence from recession, what is next? The Administration will sustain and build on what it did to get the economy out of recession. That means a lot of sustained policy
interventions in various areas!

– It will continue to stimulate local production of staples (e.g. rice) using initiatives like the Anchor’s borrowers programme and the Presidential Initiative on Fertilizers. Through these measures, the agricultural sector did not experience any contraction, but continued to show positive growth during the recession.

– Continuous improvement of the business environment via PEBEC to attract investors.

– Positive engagement in the Niger Delta that has resulted in improved oil production (estimated at 1.84 mbpd in Q2 2017 from about 1.1mbpd at some point during the recession).

– Fiscal stimulus through the 2016 Capital Budget (N1.2 trillion spent, representing the highest CAPEX in the history of Nigeria).

– Stabilization of the Forex market by bridging the wide margin between the official and the parallel markets.

– Introduction of Investors and Exporters forex window which has led to improved foreign portfolio and foreign direct investment inflows.

– Continuous efforts to ensure that inflation rate, which that has come down from 18% to 16%, is further brought down. Our target is to take it down to about 11% by the end of the year and under single digits by 2020.

– Continuous efforts to build up the foreign reserves, which has hit a 30-month high of $31.8 billion as at July 2017

– Sustenance of the measures that led to a 95 per cent increase in capital inflow.

– Sustain the achievement of N-power which is the job creation cluster for unemployed graduates that has employed 200,000 people and is set to employ 300,000 more

– Sustain other Social Intervention Programmes like the NATIONAL HOME GROWN SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME which today gives one meal a day to 3,065,000 school pupils in 14 states, in addition to employing 36,000 Cooks; the CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFER from which over 30,000 households have benefited from the N5,000 monthly stipend under the programme, and the GOVERNMENT ENTERPRISE AND EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMME under which over 120,000 people have benefited from the cooperative loans.

– We must also continue to improve power generation, which has increased from 2,690MW to over 6,000MW presently.

And lots more!

10. I thank you all for your kind attention.