31 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Presidency has disclosed that Nigeria’s trade balance increased from deficit in 2016, even as it told Nigerians to expect major facelift in power, rail and roads in 2018 based on the present administration’s investment in infrastructure.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, who made this known in a statement, Saturday, when he unveiled 17 achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2017, noted that Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves grew by 12 billion dollars, reaching the highest level since 2014.
Adesina listed some of the achievements of the present administration in the outgoing year and concluded that President Muhammadu Buhari has done well.
“President Buhari’s investment in infrastructure will see major facelifts across the country in power, rail and roads, which have been scheduled to come on stream in 2018,” Adesina said.
The Presidential spokesman said it was appropriate to, at the twilight of 2017 and at the threshold of a New Year, recount some key achievements of the administration in the outgoing year.
He said despite global economic challenges and initial outlook of slow, or unlikely, recovery, the Nigerian economy trumped predictions and witnessed some remarkable changes in 2017.
He listed the changes to include Nigeria’s exit from what he called the worst recession in decades and a gradual stabilisation of the naira.
“In our review of the economy based on facts and figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, we are pleased to note that the economy has been on the path of steady growth since the second quarter, after contracting for five consecutive quarters.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is hopeful that the exit from recession, stabilisation of the naira and robust harvest in the agricultural sector will continue to impact on the livelihood of Nigerians,” he said.
Adesina noted that multilateral institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have already projected higher growth for the economy in 2018.
He further revealed that the country, this year, added additional 250 million dollars to its Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
Adesina said Nigeria exited its worst recession in decades and rose 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business, adding that, “Nigeria exited its worst recession in decades. After five quarters of negative growth, the economy bounced back into positive territory.
“Also, Inflation fell for ten consecutive months during 2017 (February to November),” he added.
The presidential aide said agriculture was one of the stars of 2017, posting consistent growth levels even throughout the recession. Also, Inflation fell for ten consecutive months during 2017 (February to November).
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), he said, recorded its highest-ever revenue collection among other things. “The Nigeria Customs Service recorded its highest revenue collection, crossing the one trillion naira mark, the target for 2017 was N770 billion, and 2016 collection was just under N900 billion.”
Adesina noted that on the back of a stable Naira and increased investment inflows, Nigeria’s stock market emerged one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 per cent.
He also stated that the country witnessed bumper food harvests, “especially in rice, which local production continues to rise significantly (States like Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano leading the pack, with Ogun joining at the end of 2017).”
According to him, the price of a 50kg bag of rice, a staple in the country has fallen by about 30 per cent since the beginning of 2017, as local production has gone up.
Adesina further stated that the Federal Government had inaugurated a N701 billion Intervention Fund (Payment Assurance Programme) aimed at supporting power generation companies to meet their payment obligations to gas and equipment suppliers, banks and other partners.
He said the impact was being felt, adding that the amount of power being distributed was steady at about 4,000MW – higher than previously recorded.
He also listed the payment of pensions to police officers who were granted Presidential pardon in 2000 after serving in the former Biafran Police during the Nigerian Civil War as part of the Buhari administration’s achievement in 2017.
According to him, the officers and their next of kin have waited for their pensions for 17 years since the Presidential pardon.
The presidential spokesman remarked that the Federal Government’s fight against corruption took a new turn in 2017 as the successful implementation of a Whistleblowing Programme saw millions of dollars recovered as another achievement in 2017.
“To change the narrative on infrastructure deficit, the government successfully issued two Eurobonds (US$4.5 billion), a Sukuk Bond (N100 billion), a Diaspora Bond (US$300 million), and the first Sovereign Climate Bond in Africa, raising billions of dollars for infrastructure spending.
“By March 2018, the Federal Government’s inauguration of a Tax Amnesty scheme is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues for investment in the country.