President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday rejected statistics by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Nigeria’s economy.
He said such statistics were developed abroad and did not reflect the realities on ground as they also implied that “we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country”.
Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday while inaugurating the Presidential Economic Advisory Council which was constituted on September 16, 2019 to replace the Economic Management Team chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“Today, most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria are developed abroad by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign bodies.
“Some of the statistics we get relating to Nigeria are wild estimates and bear little relation to the facts on the ground.This is disturbing as it implies we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country,” Buhari said.
He set agenda for the Economic Advisory Council: proffering home-grown idea solutions to the economic crisis; coordinating and synthesising ideas and efforts on how to, in collaboration with various employment generating agencies, lift 100 million citizens out of poverty in 10 years as well as developing reliable data that will properly reflect what is happening in the country.
According to the president, “We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data.”
Buhari also said the impact of hundreds of millions of dollars which the international organisations claimed to have spent on the internally displaced persons in the northeast was “rarely” seen on ground.
“Today, we hear international organisations claiming to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IDPs in the North East. But when you visit the camps, you rarely see the impact.
“In 2017, when the National Emergency Management Agency took over the feeding of some IDPs in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the amount we spent was significantly lower than the claims made by these international organisations.
“Therefore, actionable data is critical to implement effective strategies to address pressing problems such as these humanitarian issues.
“I, therefore, look forward to receiving your baseline study as this will help us shape ideas for a sustainable and prosperous future,” he said.
He charged the council: “As you develop your baseline study, I would like you to focus on primary data collection.
“We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data. As you are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities.
“Our programmes covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes.
“As you travel in some rural communities, you can clearly see the impact. However, the absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability.”
On the Social Investment Programmes, the president said his administration was working to measure the impact of the programme targeted at improving the well-being of millions of poor and vulnerable citizens.
He said he had directed the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to commence a comprehensive data-gathering exercise in all IDP camps in the northeast.
The president admitted that the nation’s economy was not growing well. “Yes, Nigeria has exited the recession. But our reported growth rate is still not fast enough to create the jobs we need to meet our national ambition of collective prosperity.
“Reason being we had to tread carefully in view of the mess we inherited. Many of the ideas we developed in the last four years were targeted at returning Nigeria back to the path of growth.
“I am sure you will also appreciate that during that time, our country was also facing serious challenges especially in the areas of insecurity and massive corruption.
“Therefore, I will be the first to admit that our plans were conservative. We had to avoid reckless and not well thought out policies.
“However, it was very clear to me after we exited the recession that we needed to re-energise our economic growth plans. This is what I expect from you,” he said.
President Buhari also assured the Council that the Federal Government will ensure that all their needs and requests were met before the next technical sessions in November.
He said all key ministries, departments and agencies would be available to meet and discuss with them on how to collectively build a new Nigeria that caters for all.
“Now, no one person or a group of persons has a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom or patriotism.
“In the circumstances, you may feel free to co-opt, consult and defer to any knowledgeable person if in your opinion such a move enriches your deliberations and adds to the quality of your decisions, “he said.
The chairman of the council, Professor Salami, said the mandate was about “Nigeria first, Nigeria second, and Nigeria always,” adding that it was about Nigerians, not as numbers, but as people.”