From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, blamed the nation’s economic recession on the downturn in the oil and gas sector, even as it expressed optimism in the improvement the non-oil sector is making. The government had however expressed hope that the fourth quarter figures would be better.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, who stated this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the council observed that the nation’s economy was still in recession, with the third quarter turning worse than the second quarter.
Udoma, who briefed alongside the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the council reviewed the figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.
Udoma said, “we looked at the recent numbers released on Monday by the NBS. As you know, from these numbers, the economy is still in recession. The performance in the third quarter is slightly worse than the second quarter and this was attributable to the performance of the oil sector, which performed worse in the third quarter than the second quarter and that was for reasons you all know.
“However, the good news is that the non-oil sector is improving in the direction that is most encouraging to the government. Agriculture continues to grow at 12.5 per cent, solid minerals continue to grow at seven per cent. We are encouraged by the direction the non-oil sector is moving.
“With regards to the fourth quarter, we believe it will be better than the third quarter even for the oil sector because oil production has started moving up as a result of a lot of initiatives this government has been taking. We are looking forward to a fourth quarter that is much better than the third quarter. We are encouraged by that.”
Ngige said the council approved the purchase of vehicles worth N464 million for the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
The vehicles include 50 Pick-up vans to be purchased from Innoson Motors, Nnewi, and 27 Peugeot 301 cars to be procured from Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, Kaduna.
The Labour Minister said the decisions to patronise indigenous companies was in line with the government’s local content policy.
Ngige said, “the council approved the purchase of some vehicles to strengthen the capacity of the FRSC. It approved that 40 Pick-up vehicles be added to the commission’s fleet. Another 27 Peugeot 301 cars were also approved for the commission. This is in line with our Local Content and Procurement Act. The total purchase is N464 million. Innoson vehicles will cost N299 million while the Peugeot cars will cost N164 million.”