January 15, 2009

Yar’Adua admits impact of financial meltdown on Nigeria

President Umaru Yar‘Adua on Wednesday admitted that the impact of the global financial meltdown was already noticeable in Nigeria and warned ministers that they must deliver visible results in 2009.

Yar’Adua said this in Abuja while addressing the ministers at the first Federal Executive Council meeting, which also marked the maiden outing by some of the new members of his cabinet.

Declining national revenue, sharp fall in the value of shares, and the continuing crash of the naira against foreign currencies, according to the President, are some of the major indicators that the global crisis is already affecting Nigeria.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, had at the 2008 Bankers’ Dinner in Lagos on December 5, 2008 said that Nigeria was insulated from the global financial meltdown.

Soludo had said, “The reason why we will not have a recession is simple, we have enough idle capital waiting to be put into productive use. Our growth rate is still driven essentially by peasant agriculture which was largely decoupled from the global problems.”

But Yar‘Adua said it was time to rise up to the global challenge and to deliver on his administration‘s promises, particularly as 2009 marked the mid-point in the life of his administration.

He told the FEC members that the government needed to double its efforts in the face of the global financial meltdown.

The President noted that “no time” could be more challenging for the government than now.

Admitting the enormity of the problems facing the Federal Government as a result of the global crisis, he said, “This year marks the beginning of our second full year in office and the mid-point of this administration.

“It also coincides with the time of profound economic worries in the world. The world‘s leading economies are in the grip of recession and the fear of a global contagion is becoming real.

“Already, we can feel the impact from falling oil prices, the declining exchange rate of the naira and the cascading prices of shares at the capital market.

“We are thus starting the year amidst persistent push and pull of both local and global realities.”

He went ahead to set agenda for the ministers in line with the challenges posed by the global recession.

Yar’Adua said, “We are saddled with the twin task of maintaining macro-economic stability in an environment of global economic meltdown, thus delivering shared prosperity to our citizens in the face of dwindling national revenues.

“No time can be more challenging but no time can be more auspicious for true leadership.

“The challenges of the moment come with opportunity to prove ourselves, dig deep into ourselves for the best we can offer and give full vent to our creative energies to lay a lasting foundation for the transformation of our country and for the wellbeing of the generality of our people.

“There is no better moment to rededicate ourselves to the urgent task of repositioning our country.

“There is no better time to recommit ourselves to imperative of meeting the mounting aspiration of our people and there is no better point to start redeeming our pledges of delivering good governance on the platform of the seven-point agenda.

“This is the time for action and visible results.

“It is the time for exemplary sacrifices in service; it is the time for unparalleled dedication and innovation. It is the time to make the lasting difference, nothing else will do.

“We must all put our hands to the plough with renewed vigour. This, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, is our sacred call to duty.”

While stressing his confidence in the abilities of the ministers, the President said they must prove themselves to Nigerians, who have been anticipating the dividends of democracy from government.

Hinting that there would be no excuses, Yar‘Adua told the ministers that the challenges of the moment meant that it was not time for an extended learning course.

“As a group carefully chosen to help revitalise the executive team, so much is expected of you. I am personally convinced that you are up to the task but all Nigerians need to be quickly convinced too,” the President said.

“This is not the time for an extended learning course; all of us, both old and new, need to be fully aware of the significance of the moment,” he added.

Welcoming the council members earlier, he had said, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the first council meeting of the year 2009.

“After the festivities and the break, it is my sincere hope that everyone is rejuvenated for the huge task ahead and to be sure that there is a lot of work to be done.

“For some of you, this is also your first council meeting following your swearing-in. Once again accept my warm welcome and well wishes on your well-deserved appointment.”

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