The Action Congress of Nigeria has challenged the Federal Government to be honest with Nigerians on the state of the nation’s economy, saying all indications are that things are not as rosy as they are been painted by the government.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said coming clean on the state of the economy will enable the government to carry the people along in whatever measures it may take to avoid the collapse of the economy.
The statement said: “On Feb. 24th, 2013, we issued a statement in which we alerted the nation to ‘an impending collapse of the Nigerian economy, unless the federal government cuts the astronomical cost of running a bloated government and takes
urgent measures to diversify the economy and shore up the production of oil, which remains the mainstay of the country’s economy’.
“Though the Federal Government quickly denied the economy was in danger, it is now clear that it (government) was being economical with the truth. The clearest indication yet of this choreographed deceit are the contradictory statements credited to the Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in recent times.
“According to published report, on June 10th in Abuja, the minister said at a ministerial briefing that the fundamentals of the economy were strong and that the economy was buoyant beyond danger. However, a day later, the same minister was quoted as saying, at a closed-door session of the Federal Government Economic Implementation Team, that the Nigerian economy is shaky despite the official fundamentals and that drastic steps are needed to save it from collapse.
“She was further quoted as saying that there was an urgent need for ‘stringent budgetary measures’ to arrest the downward slide; that crude oil production now hovers around 1.3 million barrels per day (far lower than that it was at the height of the protracted militancy in the Niger Delta); and that crude oil theft, which costs Nigeria US$6 billion annually, is now severely hurting the economy.”
The ACN said while it had no reason to doubt that the reality of the gloomy situation facing the country’s economy has now
dawned on the government, it is still worried that those in authority are speaking from both sides of their mouths, publicly giving the impression that all is well while privately preparing to unleash belt tightening measures on the same hapless citizens who have borne the brunt of their poor governance.
The party added: “When the falling crude oil production and massive oil theft are placed side-by-side with the impact of the rising Shale oil production in the US (which we also warned against in our earlier statement), the regular declaration of Force Majeure by oil
firms, the fact that oil firms are divesting instead of investing in the sector and the freewheeling spending by a profligate
government, one needs not be a Harvard-trained economist to know that the dark clouds are gathering over the economy.
“Since it is a truism that everything revolves around the economy, a government that cannot get it right with the economy cannot
get it right with anything else. This is why we are again raising the alarm, with the belief that the government will level with Nigerians and shun the same ‘political’ reactions that it is used to.
“It is urgent to act now. As many concerned citizens have said, the highfalutin economic growth figures have not translated to
development. Poverty has remained high while unemployment has become a time bomb. Therefore, against the background of a tottering economy, delay could be calamitous.”