On Tuesday 5th January 2016, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, arrived Nigeria to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders in the country. This visit gave a lot of Nigerians cause to raise an eyebrow, as they were concerned about Ms. Christine Lagarde’s mission in Nigeria.
Ms. Lagarde, in a press conference at the State House, Abuja, said she had a fruitful discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the Nigerian economy in the light of dwindling oil prices. She said she also discussed how Nigeria could face the challenges associated with global economic downturn. She said her meeting with the president also bordered on Mr. Buhari’s fight against corruption and his commitment to transparency and accountability in governance.
Meanwhile, receiving Ms Lagarde at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari said that his administration will look inwards, enforce regulations to stop financial leakages and adopt global best practices in generating more revenue to mitigate the effect of dwindling oil prices on the Nigerian economy. He also said that his administration will enforce greater discipline, probity and accountability in all revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government.
The presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, quoted President Buhari when he said;
“We have just come out of budget discussions after many weeks of taking into consideration the many needs of the country, and the down turn of the economy with falling oil prices and the negative economic forecasts.
We are working very hard and with the budget as our way forward, we will do our best to ensure that our country survives the current economic downturn.
We have also told all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government that on our watch, they will fully account for all funds that get into their coffers.”
The President also said that the Federal Government was reviewing its operational costs and had directed all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to cut down on their overhead costs. He added that the Federal Government will welcome the technical support and expertise of the IMF for its plans to diversify the Nigerian economy and further unleash its growth potentials.
Contrary to perceived intent of her visit, Ms Lagarde made it clear that she was not in Nigeria to negotiate a loan for the country.
“I am not here to negotiate loan with conditionalities because Nigeria does not need a new IMF programme,” the IMF chief said.
Ms. Lagarde also said that the IMF considers Nigeria a key player in global financial structure, adding that ongoing reforms in the country would definitely have a great impact on Nigeria’s neighbours.
However, Ms Lagarde affirmed that the IMF will be willing to assist the Federal Government in plugging revenue leakages, tracing stolen funds and restructuring its tax system. She said Nigeria has all the potentials to overcome the current economic challenge of falling commodity prices without resorting to the IMF for financial support.
She also discussed how Nigeria could face the challenges associated with global economic downturn. She said her meeting with the president also dwelled on Mr. Buhari’s fight against corruption and his commitment to transparency and accountability in governance.
Her mission was clear, her terms were simple; President Buhari is ready to make an alliance with the International Monetary Fund to help tackle the issue of oil pricing in Nigeria.