Nigeria: Govt spends $2.4 billion to drag country out of recession – Buhari

*President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.

*President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.

…Says fixing refineries to save nation $10bn on importation

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

02 October 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that the Federal Government has spent N720.5 billion ($2.4 billion) on capital expenditure this year to help drag the economy out of recession.

President Buhari, who made the disclosure during his televised speech, Saturday, to marking the country’s Independence Day, noted that the recession would soon come to an end because of investments by the government.

He said, “I know that uppermost in your minds today is the economic crisis. The recession for many individuals and families is real. For some it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it’s not being able to afford the high cost of food (rice and millet) or the high cost of local or international travel, and for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic.

“I know how difficult things are, and how rough business is. I believe that this recession will not last. Temporary problems should not blind or divert us from the corrective course this government has charted for our nation.”

He added, “I believe that this recession will not last. Several hundreds of thousands of (unemployed) workers will be re-engaged in the next few months as our public works program gains momentum. We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions.”

President Buhari explained that the recession had been brought about by a critical shortage of foreign exchange.

“Oil price dropped from an average of hundred USD per barrel over the last decade to an average of forty USD per barrel this year and last. There are no easy solutions, but there are solutions nonetheless and the government is pursuing them in earnest.”

According to him, “We are to repair our four refineries so that Nigeria can produce most of our petrol requirements locally, pending the coming on stream of new refineries. That way we will save ten billion USD yearly in importing fuel.”

Buhari also said the government has been negotiating to end militant attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta, the country’s oil hub, but would not be intimidated by armed groups.

He said oil production had temporarily dropped to less than one million barrels a day, down from 2.2 million b/d, due to militant attacks, but he did not say how much current output was.

Buhari also reiterated the government wanted to repair the country’s four refineries to end costly fuel imports.

He said the naira exchange rate to the dollar would stabilize, after dropping to record lows due to a “critical” shortage of hard currency amid low oil prices. He, however, did not elaborate.

According to the President, the programmes outlined will revive the economy, restore the value of the naira and drive hunger from the land. He commended Nigerians for their patience, steadfastness, and perseverance.

The president also called on Nigerians to give thanks to God and pray for the founding fathers as Nigeria celebrates her 56th Independence Day anniversary, adding that it is a day of celebration for Nigeria as she achieved the most important of all human desires, freedom, and independence, 56 years ago.

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