President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said Nigeria had suddenly become a poor country as a result of the sharp drop in the price of oil.
He, however, said the prudent manner his administration had been handling the nation’s resources had made it impossible for people to know of the severe shortage in the country.
The President said this while receiving the United Nations Population Fund’s Executive Director and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
This was contained in a statement by President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina
President Buhari said commitment to transparency and accountability was serving the government in good stead, despite severe shortage of resources in the country.
He said, “It has been a very difficult year for Nigeria. Before we came to office, petroleum sold for about $100 per barrel. Then it crashed to $37, and now oscillates between $40 and $45 per barrel.
“Suddenly, we’re a poor country, but commitment to transparency and accountability is not making people know that there is severe shortage.”
Asking UNFPA to bear with Nigeria in whichever area the country could not live up to its responsibilities for now, Buhari said exploding population and different cultural practices in the country provided fertile ground for research to organisations like UNFPA.
The President thanked the UN agency for its commitment to saving lives in Nigeria, particularly of women and children.
On food security, Buhari said reports from the North-East of the country were encouraging, as people were returning to their farmlands, with the guarantee of relative security.
Osotimehin, a former Minister of Health, said UNFPA was determined to promote health care facilities across the country, noting that reduction of maternal mortality was doable, if the country paid more attention to access to health facilities, and human resources to run them.
He also encouraged Nigeria to be committed to providing resources for health care, on a rollover basis, pledging that the UN would work with the country to provide humanitarian assistance not only in the North-East, “but even extended to the Lake Chad basin.”