Real Reason For Economic Hardship – Lai Mohammed Speaks
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has blamed the current economic hardship facing the nation on the failure by past governments to save for a rainy day.
Lai Mohammed stated this at the opening ceremony of the Nigerian Guild of Editors conference in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
He said that the nation had nothing to fall back on to cushion the harsh effect brought about by the drop in the international price of crude oil.
He said: “Nigeria has nothing to rely on to cushion the effects of the lost earnings. Many other oil-producing countries and fellow OPEC members are doing better because they saved for the rainy day.
“Saudi Arabia, with about one fifth of Nigeria’s population, has in foreign reserves about $600 billion (which is 23 times what Nigeria has in foreign reserves). United Arab Emirates, with less than 10 million people, has $75 billion in foreign reserves. Qatar, with 2.4 million people, has $36 billion in foreign reserves. Even Angola, with just 24 million people has about $25 billion in foreign reserves.
“Here in Nigeria, with oil selling consistently for over $100 a barrel for many years, we simply failed to save for the rainy day, with the result that a country with a population of over 170 million today has just $26 billion in foreign reserves.
“To compound this, the fall in the price of crude oil is having a ripple effect: the scarcity of forex, which has resulted from the oil price crash, means that industries are struggling to get forex to import raw materials and machinery.”