The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the judicious management of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the unrelenting war on corruption is why the country has not collapsed.
According to Thisday, Mohammed made this statement yesterday at the All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC) 2016 in Port Harcourt, where he listed the economic challenges and the efforts to steer the country to safety.
He said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is applying prudent management in the use of scares resources made possible by the anti-corruption fight, TSA and elimination of ghost workers.
The minister predicted that the increasing emphasis on agriculture would soon reduce the nation’s ‘scandalously’ high dependence on food importation, adding that the country is facing the consequences occasioned by the fall in the price of crude oil and the failure to save for the rainy day as well as not investing in infrastructure.
Mohammed said: ‘’Nigeria has nothing to rely on to cushion the effects of the lost earnings.
“Many other oil producing countries and fellow OPEC members are better because they saved for the rainy day. Saudi Arabia with about one fifth of Nigeria’s population, has about 600 billion dollars (which is 23 times what Nigeria has in foreign reserves) in foreign reserves. United Arab Emirates, with less than 10 million population 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.
‘’Here in Nigeria, with oil sold consistently for over 100 dollars a barrel for many years, we simply failed to save for the rainy day with a population of over 170 million, which has just 26 billion dollars in foreign reserves.
“To compound this, the fall in the price of crude oil is having a ripple effect-the scarcity of foreign exchange resulting from the oil price crash, meaning that industries are struggling to get foreign exchange to import raw materials and machinery. With falling imports, the Customs Service, which is another source of revenue, is collecting fewer duties.
“Taxation is also affected, as industries with no forex to import can neither employ more people nor produce more goods. Then, Nigeria has to fight an existential battle to root out Boko Haram in the North-east region,’’ he said.
The minister lauded the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) for supporting the deliberate efforts to tackle the multifarious challenges facing the country, particularly in the area of the economy, saying NGE in particular and the media in general owe it a duty to keep Nigerians well informed of situation by becoming the ‘Champions of Change’.
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