Akin Akande, Abuja
Against calls from opposition parties that the Federal government should stop deceiving Nigerians about the true state of the nation, The Presidency on Tuesday disclosed that the country’s foreign reserve stands at a healthy $50 billion.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, also said the country’s total crude oil production stands at 2.06 million barrels per day.
Painting an altogther healthy economic performance, Okupe said domestic government borrowing declined from N852 billion in 2011 to N588 billion in 2013, adding that implementing reforms suggested by the Orosanye committee would reduce recurrent expenditure by about N1 trillion in the next three years through the rationalization of agencies and departments of government with similar functions.
While reacting to claims by the opposition that the nation’s economy is weak, Okupe added that “while the Nigerian economy, like other oil dependent ones globally, often suffer from drop in sales and fluctuation in international pricing, the Jonathan administration has implemented key reforms to reduce dependence on oil and these reforms have resulted in the agricultural sector alone contributing over 40% to the Gross Domestic Product in two years. Oil exports are now 69% of our total exports as against 91% in 2008.
Said Okupe: “It is also on record that this government is currently implementing measures which have considerably reduced incidence of crude oil theft in the last two years.
“The President has also solicited the co-operation of the United Kingdom, United States and other countries in tracking and apprehending thieves of Nigerian oil. Efforts are also on to stop foreign refiners from buying stolen crude oil from bunkerers.
“The truth is that contrary to this thinking, Nigeria’s total National crude oil production is 2.06 million barrels per day. India is consistently taking an average of 120,000 barrels per day from Nigeria.
“Our foreign reserve has climbed up to almost 50 billion dollars while the exchange rate has been steady.Our National debt is 21% of our GDP compared to South Africa (42.7%) Sub Saharan Africa (34.2%) USA (106%) Japan (225%) United Kingdom (90%).”
He said that with the improvement in the nation’s economy, it is unfair and incorrect for anyone to suggest an impending collapse of the economy on the basis of a drop in crude oil sales which is not within the control of any single Nation, without taking into account current efforts by government to diversify the economy as well as fiscal measures which have resulted in inflow of over 14 billion dollar new investments in the non-oil sector of the economy as well as other favorable ratings of the Nigerian economy by International rating agencies.
“Recently, the United States based Reputation Institute (RI), the world’s foremost Organisation that imparts reputation knowledge and monitors reputation of organisations, places and leaders ranked Nigeria, for the first time in its history, among the top 50 reputable countries out of about 195 independent countries in the world. Some of the criteria used include effective governance and advanced, stable economy,” he said.
On the issue of high cost of governance, the Senior Special Assistant said it is noteworthy that under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s recurrent expenditure dropped from 74% in 2011 to 68% in 2013 and will further go down in the next fiscal year.
He disclosed that Federal Government has awarded the Lagos-Ibadan express at a total cost of 160.7 billion Naira, adding that the multi-lane road project which will be handled by Julius Berger Construction Company and the RCC will consist of 3 lanes on either side up to Sagamu junction and 2 lanes up to Ibadan as well as a fly over and inter-change at the Redemption camp to solve the perennial traffic grid lock on that portion of the road.