The agency also announced earlier in March that the nation’s unemployment rate rose to a record 33.3% in December 2020, with an estimated 23.2 million Nigerians, mostly youths, unemployed.
These dire economic statistics have worried Nigerians for the past few years, with many increasingly questioning the ability of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to fulfil its promise to improve the nation’s economy.
Posed with the question of the administration’s capacity to handle the economy during a Channels TV interview on Sunday, March 28, Buhari’s media aide, Femi Adesina, said Nigerians just need to focus less on the negatives and be more upbeat about the slow progress made in nearly six years.
“In any country in the world, if you want to focus on the negatives, there will be more than enough for you to see and talk about.
“But then, there are always silver linings in the sky from time to time.
“It’s typical of Nigerians that when the silver linings come, we don’t talk about them,” he said.
To illustrate his point, Adesina lamented that Nigerians were eager to talk about the dreadful 17.33% inflation but did not give the government plaudits when inflation reduced to around 11% a couple of years ago.
Buhari actually met inflation at 9% when he was sworn in as President in May 2015 before inflation ballooned to as high as 18.72% under him in January 2017.
Inflation steadily dropped from then till it started rising again from 11.02% in August 2019 as a result of the administration’s ill-advised closure of all land borders, an action that Buhari himself recently admitted didn’t do much to accomplish his objectives.
During Sunday night’s interview, Adesina repeated a campaign lie from before Buhari’s first electoral win that over 30 million Nigerians were unemployed under the previous government of Goodluck Jonathan.
One month after Buhari took over in 2015, only 6.1 million Nigerians were actually unemployed, with unemployment rate pegged at 8.2%, a rate that is now 33.3%.
Regardless of the damning statistics that is the opposite of what the current government promised, Adesina complained that all the administration gets from Nigerians is accusations of not doing enough.
He even credited the government for not tampering with the NBS, or suppressing its statistics even though it’s a government agency.
He further lamented that the government was not credited for dragging Nigerians out of two recessions that happened under its own watch, or praise the government when it recorded a historic 97% budget performance.
“All that we hear most times, from critics and sections of the media, are just the negatives.
“The truth is that in any country in the world, if you want to focus on the negatives, you will have more than enough to chew,” he said.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity said Nigerians must realise there are positives in the economy, security, and all spheres of life in the country.
He said there will always be positives and negatives to focus on depending on what one prefers to find, and that the choice is up to Nigerians.
He said, “Let us keep our eyes on the sparrow in this country and look at the positive things for a change.
“It will help us and accelerate whatever the government is doing. It’s not one government that will do it.”
Adesina said Nigeria is making progress, although he admitted it is slow, and that Nigerians must unite and focus on things that can be done to achieve national goals, not focus on things that have not been done.
He said President Buhari will listen to well-intentioned criticism on solving Nigeria’s problems, but will never entertain anything based on negative politicking.