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Presidency spar with New York Times over “dead economy”

By Godfrey AKON

The Presidency has tackled the New York Times over its report on the current economic situation in Nigeria, saying that President Bola Tinubu inherited a dead economy.

The influential newspaper had in a scathing article, ‘Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation’, published on June 11, wrote off Tinubu’s economic policies which it said has deepened the country’s woes.

However, on Sunday, the Presidency while justifying some of the policy decisions taken by the Tinubu’s administration like floating of the naira and fuel subsidy removal, stated that the policies were taken in the best interest of the country.

A statement entitled, “Rejoinder to New York Times jaundiced report on Nigeria’s current economic situation”, issued on Sunday, by the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, the Presidency said Nigeria is not the only country in the world facing a rising cost of living crisis.

The statement read: “Ruth Maclean and Ismail Auwal’s feature story with the title ‘Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation’, published on June 11, reflected the typical predetermined, reductionist, derogatory, and denigrating way foreign media establishments reported African countries for several decades.

“Because of the misleading slant of the report, we need to clear up some misconceptions conveyed by the reporters as regards the economic policies of the Tinubu administration that came into power at the end of May 2023.

“Most significant about the report was that it painted the dire experiences of some Nigerians amid the inflationary spiral of the last year and blamed it all on the policies of the new administration.

“The report, based on several interviews, is at best jaundiced, all gloom and doom, as it never mentioned the positive aspects in the same economy as well as the ameliorative policies being implemented by the central and state governments.”

The Presidency said that as at the time Tinubu took over the reign of government, the nation’s economy was bleeding and needed urgent measures to bring it back.

It said, “To be sure, President Tinubu did not create the economic problems Nigeria faces today. He inherited them. As a respected economist in our country once put it, Tinubu inherited a dead economy. The economy was bleeding and needed quick surgery to avoid being plunged into the abyss, as happened in Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

“This was the background to the policy direction taken by the government in May/June 2023: the abrogation of the fuel subsidy regime and the unification of the multiple exchange rates.

“For decades, Nigeria had maintained a fuel subsidy regime that gulped $84.39 billion between 2005 and 2022 from the public treasury in a country with huge infrastructural deficits and in high need of better social services for its citizens.

It said, “Nigeria is not the only country in the world facing a rising cost of living crisis. The USA, too, is contending with a similar crisis, with families finding it hard to make ends meet. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raised this concern recently. Europe is similarly in the throes of a cost-of-living crisis.

“As those countries are trying to confront the problem, the Tinubu administration is also working hard to overturn the economic problems in Nigeria.

“Our country faced economic difficulties in the past, an experience that has been captured in folk songs. Just like we overcame then, we shall overcome our present difficulties very soon.”

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