The spokesperson for the President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo, has cautioned Nigerians against blaming the president for the period of recession experienced under its administration because it started before he assumed office.
Even though Nigeria slipped into its worst recession in 29 years after a 2.06% contraction in the economy between April and June 2016, a year after Buhari's inauguration, Keyamo said the economic decay had been set in motion by the previous government.
While speaking on Channels Television on Monday, May 28, 2018, Keyamo said Nigeria would have been in a worse shape if Buhari had not been elected to arrest the economic slide with his two-pronged approach of investing in infrastructure and diversifying the economy.
He said, "I think this government should be judged by the numbers and not by emotions; and if you to judge the government by numbers in terms of what has been available to it to work, Nigerians would have been worse off if the government had not taken the steps that it took especially in respect of the economy.
"Remember that in 2004, the recession started. So, nobody should wake up and, because of political reasons, say that it was when this government came on board that we slipped into recession.
"Recession does not start overnight. The recession started in 2014 and that was why at the point of handover in 2015, 24 states were almost bankrupt; they could not pay salaries.
"The federal government was borrowing to pay salaries at that point when they handed over in 2015. The naira had begun a downward slide and at the time they handed over, it was N225 to a dollar. These were clear indices that there was something wrong - we were headed for the bottom of the slope; we were going to crash. It could have been worse if the government did not take the steps that it took.
"There were two major approaches the government took to halt this slide. First, it needed to spend to reverse the recession and that is why no matter how much you criticise it, it went a-borrowing to invest in critical infrastructure, not to pay salaries, and the investment in rail, road and power has rebounded the economy. The economy is on its way to actual revival.
"The second measure it took is to diversify the economy because it was the over-reliance on oil that brought us to that sorry past. It invested heavily in agriculture and industry - eight rice mills revived, fertiliser plants were revived and we have moved from 2.5 million metric tonnes of rice to 4 million."
Buhari could have averted recession with good policies - Ezekwesili
Speaking opposite Keyamo on the television show, Sunrise Daily, on Monday, former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili said Buhari could have averted the recession. Despite agreeing with Keyamo that certain conditions led to the recession, she said that good policies by Buhari's government could have stopped a recession from happening at all.
She said, "If you did the right economic policy at that time, you would have averted the recession. Many other oil-producing and exporting countries managed to avert recession."
Nigeria officially exited recession in September 2017 when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced that the gross domestic product (GDP) returned to positive growth as it grew by 0.55 percent in GDP terms for Q2 2017 after five consecutive quarters of contractions since Q1 2016.