Nigeria only has itself to blame for its current economic troubles, President Muhammadu Buhari said in an interview broadcast on Saturday, criticising previous governments for an over-reliance on crude revenues.
Africa’s biggest oil producer and leading economy has been struggling with the slump in global crude prices for nearly two years, which has slashed the majority of government revenues.
The country’s junior oil minister last Thursday said some oil-producing countries, including Russia, would meet in Moscow on March 20 to discuss a way out of the slump.
Asked if the world’s biggest supplier Saudi Arabia and policies of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had hit smaller producers, Buhari told Al-Jazeera English OPEC had to “act together to save the situation”.
Countries, including Nigeria, “have to live by” market forces, he said, ruling out a Nigerian withdrawal from the body. But he added: “OPEC as an organisation has to be mindful of economic conditions in each member country because that will influence that country’s ability to go along with OPEC decisions.
“Nigeria, we were unable to diversify our economy, hence we are much more disadvantaged by the lower oil prices and OPEC may try to help us out but really, it’s basically our own fault.”
Buhari, who took office in May last year, has made reducing Nigeria’s reliance on crude revenues a key plank of his economic policy alongside ending decades of corruption and impunity.
But those efforts have been hamstrung as cash-flow problems caused by the global oil shock as well as previous administrations’ failure to save crude revenue when prices were high.
Buhari again said he would not devalue the naira currency or lift strict foreign exchange controls that critics say have strangled investment and growth in the import-dependent country.
“Nigeria can only afford to live within its means,” he said.