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Nigeria's economy grinding to a halt, ACN warns

By The Citizen
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The opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) yesterday warned that Nigeria's economy was gradually grinding to a halt.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party explained that if the trend was not urgently halted, the Federal Government might in the next few years be unable to pay its bills, including workers' salaries.

Predicating its warning on four 'empirical evidences' - high cost of oil production, massive graft in the oil sector, sharp fall in the discovery of new oil wells and gas reserves as well as  the discovery of new energy sources by Western nations, ACN said

It implored the Federal Government  not to see  the warning  as  mere politicking, saying it 'is  borne out of  patriotic favour.'

The party maintained that,   ''Contrary to what the Federal Government may say, this warning is not about crying wolf but is actually born out of patriotic favour devoid of politicking, which is the usual refrain of this government when alerted to its shortcomings.

''We will like to be proven wrong, but this will depend on uncommon and monumental effort, rather than on the basis of the usual canned response from the government.''

Justifying the evidences which it said informed its opinion  about the economy, the ACN  said, the cost of oil production  which was  $4  per barrel in 2002  had skyrocketed to  $35  while ' massive corruption, sabotage and crude oil theft  cost the nation a whopping   $6bn yearly.

It therefore called on the government to 'cut the astronomical cost of running a bloated government and take urgent measures to diversify the economy and shore up the production of oil, which remains the mainstay of the country's economy.'

But in a swift reaction to the warning , the Presidency yesterday assured Nigerians that the economy was in safe hands.

'What do you expect of an opposition party like the ACN? They can always say that, but they are wrong. The economy is in safe hands and anything they say should not be taken seriously. It  is their job to run down the government and they will not succeed inshallah  (God willing).They will not succeed. They have some states in the country, let them face the states and do what they want to do,' the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, said in Abuja.

' I am telling you without any iota of doubt that the  economy is in safe hands and Mr. President is as prudent as ever and the issue of bloated workforce, we can't be sacking people like that. It is the work of government to create jobs. The success of government is measured by the number of jobs they create, not by sacking people. The ACN leaders have their states let them sack people  and let us see. The government of President  Jonathan is to create jobs for people and  not to sack people,' Gulak said.