The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that taking Nigeria out of recession did not happen by accident but it was all about hard work and fidelity to well-articulated economic policies.
The minister spoke in Kano on Wednesday at the Fourth Annual Conference of the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria.
The conference, hosted by the Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano, had the theme, “Communication, Governance and Development”.
The minister said the commitment of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to strategic implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, launched on April 5, contributed a great deal in bringing the economy out of recession.
Mr. Mohammed congratulated Nigerians over the good news from National Bureau of Statistics but noted that the naysayers and purveyors of fake news would not be happy about the development.
He said, “While this is good news for the good people of Nigeria, it will be very sad news for the purveyors of fake news, disinformation and hate speech.
“Why? Because part of the reasons they have devoted their energies to spreading lies about the administration is to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians and give the impression that the administration is not working,” he said
He stressed that contrary to the disinformation being spread by naysayers, the administration was working and the results were showing.
The minister recalled that the country had been on the path toward recession since mid-2014 but officially slipped into recession in the second quarter of 2016.
He attributed the recession to a combination of factors, including total dependence on a mono product – oil – and the failure to save during the boom years.
Mr. Mohammed said that some right steps that had culminated in the good news being celebrated included deliberate government policies to grow the oil and non-oil sectors and economic diversification programmes.
“The non-oil sector was driven principally by strong growth in agriculture and solid minerals sector, and reversal in the previous contraction of the manufacturing and construction sector,” he said.
He said inflation rate that rose astronomically in 2016 from 9.03 per cent in January to over 18 per cent by December had consistently declined every month since January 2017.
The minister also identified positive foreign trade with rise in export and decrease in import, as well as increased foreign investment and capital inflows as reasons for the country exiting recession.
He said the massive road and railway construction work across the country were bringing back many jobs that had been lost in the sector.
“For three years before this government came in, contractors were not paid. That’s now history,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed said that the food prices that were still high were being addressed with appropriate monetary and fiscal policies.
He said although the current data on the country’s unemployment rate was still being awaited but as the economy recovered and private economic activities firming up, prices were expected to fall.
The minister commended the association for organising the conference.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State said the conference came at a time that there was increase in hate speech and fake news in the country.
The governor, represented by Mohammed Garba, the state Commissioner for Information, urged participants to give recommendations that would check hate speech and fake news.
The conference was attended by a former senator, Jubril Aminu, former Director General of NTA, Tony Iredia, and the Vice- Chancellor of Bayero University, Mohammed Bello, a professor.