Presidency Slams Foreign Media’s ‘Jaundiced’ Portrayal Of Economic Woes

Presidency Slams Foreign Media's 'Jaundiced' Portrayal Of Economic Woes

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The Presidency has hit back at what it called the “predetermined, reductionist, derogatory, and denigrating” way foreign media outlets have reported on the country’s current economic situation under the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

In a strongly-worded rejoinder, Special Adviser to President Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, slammed a recent feature story by The New York Times titled ‘Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation’ as a “jaundiced” account that reflects a typical negative bias against African nations.

Onanuga accused the NYT report of painting an overly gloomy picture based on interviews depicting the dire experiences of some Nigerians amid last year’s inflationary spiral, while failing to mention the positive aspects and ameliorative policies being implemented by the government.

“The report 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,” Onanuga stated.

The presidential aide stressed that Tinubu did not create Nigeria’s economic troubles but inherited them, likening it to a “dead economy” that required urgent interventions to prevent total collapse.

He defended the government’s decision in May/June 2023 to abolish the fuel subsidy regime that had cost $84.39 billion between 2005 and 2022, as well as the unification of multiple exchange rates – moves he said were crucial to restore fiscal discipline and attract investment.

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

He added that by keeping the naira overvalued against the dollar, the previous government had allowed arbitrage opportunities that enabled round-tripping while failing to meet remittance obligations, drying up foreign direct investment.

According to Onanuga, while the initial economic shocks were turbulent, with the naira depreciating to N1,900 per dollar, stability is being restored gradually and the currency could recover to N1,000-N1,200 by the of the year.

He cited increasing foreign portfolio investment, a Q1 2024 trade surplus of N6.52 trillion, fresh loans from multilateral lenders, and multi-billion dollar investment commitments as signs of renewed investor confidence stemming from the reforms.

The presidency acknowledged that food inflation remains a key challenge, but said the government is implementing policies to boost domestic agricultural production, including fertilizer subsidies, incentives for dry season farming, and state-level interventions.

“With all the plans being executed, inflation, especially food inflation, will soon be tamed,” Onanuga asserted.

He argued that while Nigeria is not alone in facing a cost-of-living crisis, which has also hit Western nations like the U.S., the Tinubu administration is working hard to turn around the economic woes, expressing confidence that “we shall overcome our present difficulties very soon.”

In his parting shot, the presidential aide stated, “Our country faced economic difficulties in the past. Just like we overcame then, we shall overcome our present difficulties very soon.”

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