President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria is “suddenly a poor country” due to significant drop in crude oil prices in the international market since his assumption of office.
Speaking at the state house in Abuja on Thursday while receiving Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and under secretary-general of the United Nations, Buhari said Nigerians are not feeling the extent o of the “severe shortage” because of his administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
“It has been a very difficult year for Nigeria,” Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman quotes the president as saying in a Facebook statement.
“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 any area where the country is not living up to its responsibilities for now, Buhari said exploding population and different cultural practices in the country provide fertile ground for research to organizations like UNFPA.
He 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 were encouraging, as internally displaced persons had begun returning to their farmlands, with the guarantee of relative security.
Osotimehin, a former minister of health in Nigeria, reiterated UNFPA’s determination to promote health care facilities across the country, noting that reduction of maternal mortality is doable if the country pays more attention to access to health facilities, and the human resources to run them.
He also encouraged Nigeria to commit 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.”