Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, indeed said Nigeria’s current economic recession is just “a word”, Elombah.com can confirm
Two days after the minister denied making such statement, video evidence shows Mrs. Adeosun indeed made the statement despite her denial on Thursday, after many Nigerians including the opposition party condemning it as playing the ostrich and crass insensitivity to the sufferings of Nigerians.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, on Thursday denied ownership of a social media account that posted controversial updates about Nigeria’s economic recession on Wednesday.
The account, @Mrskemiadeosun on micro-blogging platform, Twitter, played down the significance of a recession after the National Bureau of Statistics announced that Nigeria’s economy contracted by 2.06% in the second quarter, bringing the country into a long predicted recession.
“The strongest of all warriors are these two, time and patience. I know people are concerned about the recession. Recession is a word,” the handle tweeted.
The tweet was later deleted, but only after distraught Nigerians reacted to the verdict.
But the criticism intensified on Thursday morning, with the comment making the headlines of some national dailies.
On Thursday afternoon, Festus Akanbi, spokesman for Mrs. Adeosun, stating the tweet did not reflect the position of his principal wrote:
“The Twitter handle, @Mrskemiadeosun, does not belong to the Honourable Minister of Finance. At no point did she make that kind of statement in her interaction with the media after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday. The fake handle does not belong to her,” Mr. Akanbi said.
Mr. Akanbi also said Mrs. Adeosun had no presence on Twitter. The office later issued a statement, expressing the same position.
However, a video recording obtained by Premium Times shows Mrs. Adeosun made a similar remark at an earlier event, although with a slightly different context.
Mrs. Adeosun spoke at a town hall meeting organised by the Alumni Association of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies on August 9, 2016.
She spoke alongside the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, Minister Power, Works and Housing, Tunde Fashola, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
The minister used her speech to explain why Nigeria should diversify its economy.
“The diversification agenda is not a rhetoric. The diversification agenda is an economic objective that we would achieve with what we’re doing with the budget, with our implementation and with how we’re managing our finances.
“So, yes, we’re borrowing. We need to borrow because we cannot wait for the oil prices to recover. We have to invest in this large infrastructure projects that are needed to unlock the competitiveness in our economy and create jobs for our people. That’s the objective of this government and that’s what we’re working towards. I’m also extremely confident that we would get there.
“The one thing Nigerians have in abundance is probably our greatest intangible asset is the spirit of the Nigerian people. The entrepreneurship of the Nigerian people. And their hard work. If we can combine those with an enabling environment created by government, I believe this economy can turn around,” Mrs. Adeosun said.
Then the minister moved on to the part where she attempted to allay the fears of Nigerians about the recession at the time.
“I know people are concerned about recession. Recession is a word,” Mrs. Adeosun said. “We can come out of recession. We can make sure it’s as short as possible by sticking to the prescription which is we must be disciplined with our expenditure, we must invest in capital and we must diversify our economy.”
After the video emerged, some of Mrs. Adeosun’s supporters said she made a mistake by denying ties to the Twitter handle in the first place.
At the height of the controversy on Thursday, the handle changed its status from being an “official Twitter account” of the minister to a “parody account”.
The handle’s bio was empty as at 8:46 pm. Friday.
Mr. Akanbi declined further comments on the matter.
But reacting to the controversy, the Peoples Democratic Party demanded Mrs. Adeosun’s apology.
“Mrs. Kemi Adeosun’s statement yesterday was an out of line & insensitive attempt at signalling. Contrary to her belief, “recession” is not just a word. It’s a horrible reality for millions of Nigerians who face increasing difficulty in putting food on the table & meeting basic everyday financial obligations,” the party said in a statement.
“Her comments fly against the reality of rising food costs, parents withdrawing children from schools due to fee increments, rising transportation costs, rents & other such everyday expenditure.
“Her comments are an insult to suffering Nigerians & make mockery of the pain we bear as a result of the sheer incompetence & lack of ability of the Muhammadu Buhari administration of which she is an integral part.”