• Nation Not In Recession, Just Undergoing Oil Recession
The Presidency declared yesterday that Nigeria is where it was supposed to be at the age of 56. It also said that the country was already out of recession even as it admitted that there were still serious problems in the oil sector. In an interview with journalists in Abuja, yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Solomon Ita-Enag explained that given the challenges of recession, the country is not in recession but undergoing oil recession because we have failed to develop every other sectors of the economy.
Ita-Enag said: “I hold the opinion that we are where we ought to be at this time. Given the challenges of recession, I hold the view that Nigeria is not in economic recession in actual fact, it is undergoing oil recession because every other sector of the economy which ought to have been developed were not developed in due time and so those same sectors is what we have to developed now; solid minerals, agriculture, technology and the intellectual capital, therefore, we are where we ought to be.
“I want Nigeria to celebrate that this recession is coming at a time like this and Nigeria is not as hit as other countries of the world. When you see what is happening in Saudi Arabia and other oil rich countries and where they are and I think Nigeria’s position is a little bit better. And I want to also say that it is a blessing when you have challenges because it is those challenges that brings out the greatest potential in man.
“The challenge of the recession we are now, which I called oil recession, should give us an opportunity to challenge ourselves to develop other potentials in agriculture and now to export”.
He added that the dwindling oil price in the international market calls for celebration by Nigerians, stressing that successive governments should have made use of the opportunity to develop other sectors of the economy.
“The challenge of the dwindling oil price should also be a celebration for us. We should take it as opportunity for us to develop other sectors of the economy.
“I want us to remember that coal was very important in this country in the 60s and early 70s and when coal ceased to be important, we moved on to oil and we did not pray for coal to recover and become important, all we did was to exploit other sectors of the economy.
“We should exploit all those other sectors of the economy, mainly and importantly solid minerals. But more importantly, agriculture, because with agriculture we don’t need a lot of foreign investment because the land is there,” he said.
On Emergency Powers Bill, the Senior Special Assistant said he could not speak about it but, when the bill comes, it would be communicated on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives.
“When it is communicated you will hear it on the floor and so I do not speak unless it is read and I am only aware when it is read by the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives.”
On the sale of national assets, Ita-Enag noted that he only relied on the words of the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udo-Udoma and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that the proposed sale are mere speculations, adding that they take the National Assembly very seriously for rejecting the sale of national assets.
“I am not aware of the details where government has proposed to sell national assets and I rely on the words given by Senator Udo Udo-Udoma that there is no proposal. I also relied on the words given by the Minister of Information that these are all in the realm of speculations. We take the Senate and National Assembly very seriously. We don’t talk back at it and what they say is communicated and we respect the Senate because Nigerians should also know that the National Assembly members are the people who will approve what you will do.
“The question of assets will only arise when the funding items of other budgets are submitted and so you will see that nothing by the executive would be done against the law. We wouldn’t want to get into details about it,” he said.
However, Senate President, Bukola Saraki urged Nigerians from all walks of life to collaborate with the Federal Government in order to ensure the nation emerged from the current economic recession stronger, more united, developed and self reliant. Saraki in his message to mark the nation’s 56th Independence Anniversary, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, also commended all Nigerians, especially the nation’s founding fathers, for their contributions that have averted disaster for the nation at every point her existence is threatened by social, political and economic problems.
While expressing regrets that in her 56 years of existence, Nigeria’s economy still depends on only oil, a situation which created the present economic problems being experienced by the citizenry, the Senate President commended Nigerians for their perseverance, understanding and support in the face of the harsh economic condition.