Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of transportation and former governor of Rivers state, gave false information when he reportedly said that Nigeria was under recession during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Amaechi reportedly made the comments while granting an interview on a Television Programme, ‘The Osasu Show’ alleging that the then Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okoknjo-Iweala, had begged him, as the then chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, not to reveal that Nigeria was in recession.
“If you remember as governor, I said we’re broke. The minister for finance (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) came to my office in Abuja here and pleaded with me that I shouldn’t say it again,”
“So I knew as chairman of governors’ forum, that we had gone into recession under Goodluck (Jonathan),” Amaechi was quoted as saying in the interview.
The controversial Minister, in the same interview, also said Nigeria was generating 7,000MW of electricity under President Muhammadu Buhari, before the resurgence of militant activities in the Niger Delta.
He blamed the militants – Niger Delta Avengers – for poor power generation in Africa’s largest economy.
“Don’t forget that until these so-called Avengers began to bomb, we had got to 7,000 megawatts, and what he promised was ten at the end of the first term,” Amaechi had said.
“By the time the avengers, or whatever they call them started bombing, the minister of power, had driven the thing to 7,000 megawatts. Unfortunately, they began to hit the gas facilities, so what would you do?”
But in a Fact Check conducted by THE CABLE, it was gathered that the claims were false.
According to the report, “The International Monetary Fund (IMF), CNNMoney, New York Times and leading economic bodies agree that a recession can be easily identified by “two consecutive quarters of decline in a country’s real (inﬂation adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP)”.
They, however, add that on a global scale, one may need more than this metric to call a recession. IMF particularly says “it is often better to consider a wider set of measures of economic activity to determine whether a country is indeed suffering a recession”.
“According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private research organisation, which maintains a chronology of the beginning and ending dates of US recessions, recession cannot be covered up.”
The NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators”.
But Amaechi claimed that Okonjo-Iweala had “begged him” not to disclose to Nigerians that the country has gone into recession.
The report added: “Goodluck Jonathan became Nigerian president on May 5, 2010 and relinquished power by May 29, 2015.
“Central Bank of Nigeria data shows that there was never a single quarter of negative GDP growth from 2010 to 2015, and no “two consecutive quarters of decline (negative growth) in a country’s real (inﬂation adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP)”.
“According to World Bank and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) opendata project, Nigeria experience annual economic growth ranging from 7.8 percent in 2010 to 2.7 percent in 2015,” it said.
On the issue of electricity generation, the FACT is that Nigeria, in its 55-year history, has never generated 7,000MW
The Cable’s report said: “According to Wall Street Journal, which quoted the World Bank and Energy Information Administration, Nigeria produces less than half as much electricity as North Dakota for 249 times more people.
“Meanwhile, the federal ministry of power, has said the highest level of power generation in the country, in the space of over half a century, was recorded on February 2, 2016, when the country generated 5,074 MW” and “this 1,926 MW short of Amaechi’s claim.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, speaking at an event at the University of Ibadan May said: “Nigeria, for the first time, was actually generating 5,000megawatts, which was the first time it will happen in the history of the country,” Osinbajo added.
The Cable added that as at July 26, when Amaechi made this claim, data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission, NERC, showed that power generation peaked at 3,082 MW for the week.