Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has clarified that his comment on the country’s economic situation being beyond President Muhammadu Buhari’s control was misconstrued by the media.
The Minister’s clarification was made known in a statement by his media aide, Segun Adeyemi, on Saturday.
It reads in part: “On Saturday morning, I appeared on a Radio show here in Abuja at which I spoke extensively on the issues affecting our country, especially the economy.”
To my surprise, my views were twisted and I was reported to have said that the economy of our country is beyond the control of the President.
This is a gross misrepresentation of what I said. I could not have said our economy is out of the control of our President or the administration he heads. As a matter of fact, this Administration has decided to turn the economic disaster that we inherited to a blessing by diversifying our economy.
I don’t know the reason behind the gross distortion of my comments on the radio today, but whatever the motive is, Nigerians should disregard such distortion and continue to support our President and his Administration to take our country out of the woods.”
Although the comment was described as a ‘’complete misrepresentation of the comments”, it was gathered that a playback of the recorded interview shows that Mr Mohammed actually said the situation was beyond the government’s control, considering the various forces at play.
The programme was aired on FRCN’s Radio Link.
Meanwhile, read the relevant portion of the statement from where the story was garnered from with the question by the interviewer.
Q: The free fall of the Naira in the last three weeks has been very discomforting and a lot of people are asking a lot of questions and some people even say wow, it has never been so bad. Has government been able to discover (the source of) this untoward development?
Lai Mohammed: I think it is clear why the naira is today in a free fall. You see, what are the factors that determines the exchange of the naira? It is your export and import; your trade balance and the general economy. Unfortunately we have not been fortunate in any of these, which is about 70 percent of all our total earnings. Before now, oil was selling for about N100 per barrel; today it is about N30 per barrel. And if you look at the cost of production, it has remained about the same.
We have lost about 70 percent of all our income and not only was oil responsible for all our income, it was also responsible for about 90 percent of all our foreign exchange, which makes between 90 -80 percent of our source of foreign exchange.
And naturally there will be more pressure on the Naira and less dollars and more naira chasing the dollars and now look at the balance of trade – it is negative. What do we do with trading and how much did we buy from Britain, for instance, and how they buy from us,. Unfortunately, it is negative. We take more from them than they take from us. If a country suddenly loses about 80 percent for its source of forex, clearly that currency will be in trouble.
The only way out is what the government is doing, which is strengthening the economy, diversifying it, plugging all the loopholes and making sure that only the essential things are imported. It will be extremely difficult, no doubt, but we are also in a state of emergency economically. You see, take for instance, your earnings reduced from N100 to N30 per month, something will have to give way…like relocating to a smaller house and I mean this is a reality.
The fact that the government is even still managing this situation, I give credit to the government, because the situation is completely beyond their control, and this is where people have been mischievous…
Today, we live in a global community, Nigeria cannot determine the price of oil or gas. And that is why the president has gone spending countless nights lobbying, rallying other oil-exporting countries on how do we stabilize the oil price.