Nigeria’s Buhari says delighted that economy is improving

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari delivers the first televised speech since returning home after three months of medical leave in Britain, in Abuja, Nigeria August 21, 2017. Nigeria Presidency/Handout via Reuters

LAGOS – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, back at the helm after prolonged sick-leave, said he was delighted by the way Africa’s biggest economy was improving after briefings from ministers and the central bank, his office said on Monday.

Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, is in its second year of recession and has been contending with a currency crisis and dollar shortages brought on by low oil prices, which is the OPEC member’s mainstay.

But oil prices have risen since the low prices of 2014, leading to increased receipts and peace talks have this year halted the attacks on energy facilities in the southern Niger Delta which in 2016 cut crude production by more than a third.

The statistics office on Monday said annual had slowed for a sixth straight month in July, easing to 16.05 percent. [nL8N1LE19B]

And Nigerian stocks rose to a nearly three-year-high in August, largely on the opening of a market-determined FX trade window by the central bank in April that has prompted some foreign investors to return. [nL8N1K140P] [nL5N1KU55D]

Buhari, who last week returned to Nigeria after three months in Britain on medical leave for an unspecified illness, was briefed by the finance minister, central bank governor and minister of budget and national planning for nearly two hours about the economy and monetary policies.

“A delighted president declared that he was pleased with the progress being made on different fronts,” said the presidency in an emailed statement issued by Buhari’s spokesman Femi Adesina.

Buhari, who took office in May 2015, told the officials “reviving the economy was one of the major planks on which the campaign of his party, the All Progressives Congress, was based” and “expressed gladness that things were looking up after two years”.

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