In this report Chibuzo Ukaibe writes on the blame game between the People Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in light of the economic recession.
he recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics that Nigeria’s economy is in recession was more than a wake up call.
The NBS said Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product contracted by 2.06 per cent, marking the first major recession in 29 years for Africa’s largest economy.
Similarly, latest report from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday, showed that the nation’s external reserves fell by 2.86 per cent to $25.45bn on August 29, 2016. More so the foreign exchange reserves stood at $26.2bn at the end of July.
The continued scarcity of foreign exchange also pushed the naira to an all-time-low of 420 against the United States dollar at the parallel market.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had also admitted that Nigeria was in its worst possible time with the Gross Domestic Product figures for the 2016 second quarter released by the National Bureau of Statistics showing the nation’s economy now in recession.
Adeosun said the nation had a long way to go and the government was not deceiving itself that all was rosy.
These reports jolted not just the business community but also stirred the political waters.
Although the free fall of the economy was quite evident in the massive job loses across sectors, President Muhammadu Buhari, had persistently empathized with Nigerians, assuring that while he feels the pulse of the people, change does not come easy.
But the ace opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not having any of that. PDP outrightly called for the resignation of President Buhari, accusing his administration of incompetence.
Barely hours after figures released by the NBS confirmed that Nigeria had slipped into recession, PDP said “We join all well meaning Nigerians to call on Buhari to resign if he is unable to reverse the disastrous economic decline he has brought on Nigerians.”
The PDP in a statement signed by Deji Adeyanju, its director of new media, on Wednesday, saw the crisis as a direct consequence of Mr. Buhari’s “ineptitude and incompetent” approach to economic management which were a rehash of the “archaic and incoherent economic policies” he similarly pursued as the head of a military junta between 1983 and 1985.
“Nothing better showcases the absolute ineptitude and incompetence of the Muhammadu Buhari administration than the GDP, Inflation and unemployment figures released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics today.
“The result of these indices is that Nigeria is in its worst economic state for 29 years —dating back to 1987 when the nation had to take harsh steps to recover from President Buhari’s policies of 1984-85.
“As with 1984-85, companies are fleeing our shores in droves. Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) recently stated that 272 companies have shut down in the past one year,” Adeyanju said.
He also quoted key aspects of the detailed data as released by the NBS on Wednesday and compared them with what they were before his party was voted out in 2015 after a 16-year streak.
“Portfolio investment declined to an estimated $245.3m in Q2 2016. This represents a 9.5% from $271.0m in Q1 2016 & is a far cry from $2.81bn in Q2 2015,” Mr. Adeyanju said. “A total of 4,580,602 people have lost their jobs since May 29, 2015.”
But while acknowledging the gloomy economic data, the Presidency assured of improvements.
The State House said in a statement signed by Laolu Akande said “The just released GDP figures for the 2016 second quarter by the National Bureau of Statistics while confirming a temporary decline, has (sic) also indicated an (sic) hopeful expectation in the country’s economic trajectory,”
The statement, which sought to assuage rising fears, further attributed the negative results to the activities of oil vandals and said other aspects of the economy were yielding intended results, indicating that Mr. Buhari might not be ready to accept growing calls for a new policy direction.
“A close look at the data shows that this outcome was mostly due to a sharp contraction in the oil sector due to huge losses of crude oil production as a result of vandalisation and sabotage.
“However, the rest of the Q2 data is beginning to tell a different story. There was growth in the agricultural and solid minerals sectors which are the areas in which the Federal Government has placed particular priority,” Mr. Akande said.
But the PDP, in its statement, said it was unimpressed by the administration’s explanations, saying it had observed a worrisome trend in the polity.
“Our dismay is worsened by the fact that every sphere of the Nigerian socio-political space (ranging from the conduct of elections, human rights, respect for the rule of law, security, technology, health etc) is negatively affected by the Buhari administration,” Mr. Adeyanju said.
Expectedly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) didn’t take the attack by the PDP lightly.
A statement by APC’s National Secretary, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, said “The statement by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday is the latest in the Party’s insensitive plot to deflect attention from the voodoo economics and reckless fiscal policies the country was subjected to during its 16-year rule.
“For the umpteenth time, the PDP lacks the moral basis and credibility to comment or condemn the government on the economy after the mess it left behind. Instead, the PDP must apologize to Nigerians.
“The warning signs were glaring to the immediate-past administration but it choose the path of economic sabotage by looking the other way and squandering the country’s commonwealth – a reckless decision that has brought the country to its knees.
“Nigerians will recall that even the immediate-past finance minister and coordinating minister of the economy, confessed that the zero political will to save under the immediate-past administration is responsible for the challenges facing the country.”
He continued “Happily, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has embarked on well- thought economic agendas, policy actions, appropriate fiscal, governance, and socio-political reforms to revamp the economy and tackle the nation’s current challenges in the short to long term.
Under the new flexible foreign exchange policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2016, we now have a single market-determined exchange rate which enables suppliers of foreign currencies to bring in their money and take the same out at market-determined rates. The new foreign exchange policy being implemented will ensure our economy recovers in the medium to long term.
“As contained in the assented 2016 National Budget, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is aggressively formulating and implementing policies aimed at diversifying Nigeria’s economy from oil to other sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
“The administration is also proactively tackling increased attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region which has led to disruptions in crude production.
“The President’s shuttle diplomacy has yielded positive effects on the country’s economic policies. As a result, several agreements concluded during the visits are positively impacting on key sectors of the Nigerian economy including power, solid minerals, agriculture, housing and rail transportation.
“The fight against corruption remains a top priority for the President Buhari APC-led administration. In spite of desperate attempts by some partisans to discredit anti-corruption efforts in some quarters, the war against corruption is being won and has been well-received and supported. The generality of Nigerians agree that the days of impunity are over.
“Through the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the President Muhammadu Buhari APC-led administration, revenue leakages have been greatly plugged.
“The new petroleum products supply and pricing framework which eliminated corruption-tainted subsidy payments has among others greatly solved fuel scarcities by ensuring availability of products at all locations in the country; reduced hoarding, smuggling and diversion substantially and stabilise price at the actual product price; encouraged investments in both Refineries and Retails; provided Government more revenue to address social and infrastructural needs of the country.
“In line with the critical infrastructural focus of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, an unprecedented 30 per cent of 2016 budgetary provision has been committed to capital projects.
“As the administration works assiduously to build a new solid foundation, credible image and pull the country out of the present hardships, the APC appeals for patience and cooperation from Nigerians.”
However while PDP battled its demons as manifested in its leadership crisis, the country’s economy spiraled into recession.
Before now the ace opposition party had admittedly lost its voice because of its self-inflicted leadership crisis.
Upon assumption of office, the governing APC accelerated its pre-election campaign of how the PDP ravaged the country’s resources in the last 16 years.
APC spared no punches in portraying the party as being solely responsible for the economic woes the country is going through. What’s more, the revelations from the Dasukigatte saga had further accentuated how resources were allegedly stolen and mismanaged.
Still, while most commentators acknowledge the failures of the past, they however wonder whether the blame card is sufficient enough to to explain why almost two years into the APC administration, the needed economic stability remains elusive. They have began to question where PDP’s damage ended and where APC’s foibles began.
For instance, some analysts have pointed at the delay in appointment of ministers, policy inconsistencies and double speaks as evinced in the naira devaluation saga and the forex policy as some of the hindrances that has not encouraged investment so far.
More damaging, for most analysts, is the mixed signals coming from the federal government over the rising militancy in the Niger Delta, as spared headed by the Niger Delta Avengers, a situation that has affected the dwindling mainstay of the country’s revenue.
While the blame game lingers between the APC and PDP, prospects of an economic resurgence remains hazy.