The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has given reasons why it is difficult for the government to cushion the effect of the current economic hardship in the country.
He spoke at the All Nigerian Editors Conference 2016 in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
“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 $600bn (which is 23 times what Nigeria has in foreign reserves).
“United Arab Emirates, with less than 10 million people, has $75bn in foreign reserves. Qatar, with 2.4 million people, has $36bn in foreign reserves. Even Angola, with just 24 million people, has about $25bn in foreign reserves.”
He however added that President Muhammadu Buhari has saved Nigeria from economic crisis and prevented the economy from getting worse than it would have been.
While making allusions to Venezuela, an oil-rich South American country which now depends on neighbouring Columbia for essential commodities, Mohammed said Nigeria which also failed to save during the oil boom, could have suffered the same fate if not for Buhari’s leadership.
“We must give hope to our people, while also giving encouragement to those who are working non-stop to revamp our economy. In one country that failed to save for the rainy day like Nigeria, citizens are now having to cross to neighbouring countries to get essential commodities.
“The only reason we have averted such fate here is the committed, honest and disciplined leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari, the prudent management of the little resources that are accruing to the country now, thanks to the Treasury Single Account, the unrelenting war against corruption, the rooting out of ghost workers and the increasing emphasis on agriculture that is sure to massively reduce our scandalously high food imports in a short while.”
The minister said for several years the price of oil stood at $100 and above but previous governments refused to save for the rainy day.