Nigerian Presidency : New York Times Report On Economic Reforms is Biased and Inaccurate


The Nigerian Presidency has dismissed a recent New York Times article by Ruth Maclean and Ismail Auwal, titled “Nigeria Confronts its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation,” as biased and misleading. The piece, published on June 11, attributed the country’s economic challenges to the policies of the Tinubu administration, an assertion the Presidency strongly refutes.

Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to President Tinubu on Information and Strategy, issued a statement emphasizing the positive steps being taken to address Nigeria’s economic issues. He argued that President Bola Tinubu inherited, rather than created, these problems. Onanuga pointed out that the fuel subsidy regime, which cost $84.39 billion between 2005 and 2022, severely limited funds for other essential expenditures.

Onanuga highlighted the financial burden of unsustainable subsidy payments that led the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to accumulate massive debts. By the time President Tinubu took office, the national budget had no provisions for fuel subsidies beyond June 2023, with 97 percent of revenue allocated to debt servicing, leaving little for recurrent or capital expenditures.

To stabilize the economy, Tinubu’s administration removed the fuel subsidy and unified multiple exchange rates. This policy shift, Onanuga explained, was crucial for economic stability and fulfilling remittance obligations to foreign businesses. The government also floated the naira, which has since stabilized and is expected to appreciate further by year-end.

The economic reforms are already yielding positive results. Nigeria recorded a trade surplus of N6.52 trillion in Q1, reversing a deficit of N1.4 trillion in Q4 of 2023. Foreign investors are showing renewed interest, with the World Bank extending a $2.25 billion loan and additional loans from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Afreximbank, indicating increased international confidence in Nigeria’s economy.

The government is also tackling food inflation by boosting agricultural production and setting up retail shops to sell food items at lower prices. Significant investments in dry-season farming and a N100 billion fertilizer donation from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are part of these efforts.

Onanuga emphasized that Nigeria’s economic difficulties are not unique, noting that the USA and Europe are also grappling with rising living costs. He assured that the Tinubu administration is working diligently to overcome these challenges, drawing parallels to past economic crises Nigeria has successfully navigated.

“Our country has faced economic difficulties before, a reality captured in folk songs. Just as we overcame those challenges, we will overcome our present difficulties very soon,” Onanuga stated.

Mike Ojo

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