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Nigeria: Reforms working, as government tracks down economic saboteurs –Minister

Mohammed Idris, Honourable Minister for Information and National Orientation

*The Federal Government affirms the monthly receipts by 36 States from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee have surged since the petrol subsidy removal, affording all tiers of governments billions of Naira in extra headroom to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Federal Government has said the reforms, which the current administration instituted several months back have started to yield results.

Mohammed Idris, Honourable Minister for Information and National Orientation, who disclosed this in a statement issued Friday, February 23, 2024, highlighted further details of the development.

The Minister stated, “it is  heartwarming to note that we are starting to see the results.”

Idris recalled that at the time President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was sworn in May 29, 2023, he made far-reaching statements regarding his economic vision for Nigeria.

He noted the Tinubu two policy statements have stood out in this regard.

“First, he announced an immediate end to the petrol subsidy regime, because it could no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of dwindling resources,” stated he.

According to Idris, the Nigerian leader also made a firm promise to channel the savings accruing from the removal into much-needed investments in public infrastructure, education, healthcare, social investment and prosperity for tens of millions of Nigerians.

The statement explained: “Since the removal of the petrol subsidy, petrol importation has dropped by fifty percent, amounting to one billion liters monthly, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

“On a related note, crude oil production is rising steadily, increasing to an average of 1.55 million barrels per day in Q4 2023, from 1.22 million barrels per day in the preceding quarter.

The government further stated the monthly receipts by States from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) have surged since the subsidy removal, giving governments at all levels billions of Naira in extra headroom to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

He noted: “It is instructive that the removal of the petrol subsidy was one policy decision that all the three major candidates (in the 2023 Presidential Election) were unanimous on, in their campaign messaging.

“It is, therefore, mystifying to see people who had argued stridently for the removal, now pretending to be against it today.”

Frowning on such a hypocritical posturing by certain political leaders, the Nigerian Government maintained this “insincerity does not bode well for our country and our democracy.”

The Minister also said President Tinubu’s second most far-reaching pronouncement was his promise that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would work towards a unified Foreign Exchange (Forex) rate.

Idris as well explained that in line with Tinubu’s vision for a more transparent and equitable monetary policy, yet without jettisoning the Bank’s operational independence, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) took the very bold step of loosening control of Foreign Exchange rates, allowing access to Forex  to operate at market rates determined on the principle of ‘willing seller willing buyer.’

Idris stated: “As a government, we are not under any illusion that these policy moves are silver bullets, or that nothing else is required. “We understand that these are foundational fiscal and monetary policy moves, upon which we must now build the superstructure of true economic growth and prosperity.”

‘Foundational reforms painful in the short-term’

The Minister acknowledged as respected economists and experts have acknowledged, these foundational reforms in the West African country would be difficult and painful for Nigerians in the short-term.

He stated simultaneously, there is the consensus that such reforms are inevitable, given just how much they have held back robust and lasting economic growth.

“The problems that we are solving are no doubt multifaceted, intertwined, and deep-rooted, requiring creative, strategic, decisive, and multi-pronged solutions. “These bold moves being implemented are in full alignment with what is required,” the statement noted.

Idris equally said the CBN has been proactive while initiating a comprehensive strategy to enhance liquidity in the Forex market.

Besides unifying the rates, the Nigerian banking sector regulator has also cleared a significant amount of outstanding Forex obligations, and outlined new operational mechanisms for commercial banks, Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs).

Results of reforms heartwarming, says Minister

According to Idris, it is heartwarming to note that the country is beginning to see the results of the reforms.

He stressed “indeed, the Naira is stabilising, and the Foreign Exchange market is seeing a surge of inflows.”

The Minister also referenced the latest NBS figures, which he noted has indicated that capital importation into Nigeria rose by over 66 percent Q4 2023, compared with the preceding quarter.

The CBN Governor has also highlighted the fact that $1.8 billion flowed into the Forex market last week, on the back of the new reforms.

He noted “sadly, as with any effort to reform and sanitise a system entrenched in long-term malpractice, the CBN’s efforts have been met with ferocious resistance from speculators and other unscrupulous players within and outside our country, who profit from dysfunction and opacity.”

Idris, however, disclosed in  order to tackle such self-centered resistance, regulatory and enforcement agencies of government have been working round the clock in the past few days, joining forces to address these efforts at undermining the reforms.

He said: “That strategic alliance has led to the intelligence-led identification, investigation and sanctioning of individuals and organisations involved in illegal activities and sabotage within the Forex market in Nigeria.

The Federal Government declared: “Relevant regulatory and security agencies have been directed to remain vigilant to ensure that malpractices capable of undermining our currency are averted, and that those engaged in these acts are brought to book.

“The government will not allow its efforts to be jeopardised.”

The Minister stated that emerging stability of the Naira is in the interest of all Nigerian consumers.

“Nigerians should rest assured that the government will continue to take further steps to stabilise the Naira and safeguard our economy.

“We will continue to seek the patience and understanding of Nigerians as we push through these difficult times into a season of abundant benefits and truly Renewed Hope,” said Idris.

According to him, as President Tinubu never fails to emphasise, “these headwinds we are facing are only temporary, and, collectively, we will surely overcome.”

The Minister assured Nigerians that “the President and his team are and will remain resolutely committed and focused on the task of bringing immediate relief and enduring prosperity to all Nigerians.”

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