Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
With the induction of newly-elected and returning governors by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) underway in Abuja, journalists who had gone to cover the event were barred from entry into the State House Conference Centre venue.
Both State House and accredited NGF correspondents, with exception of government-run broadcaster, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), were prevented from entry into the venue.
State House correspondents were not even allowed into the work station within the venue, also known as the Old Banquet Hall.
Regarding the thrust of the gathering, Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, had on Monday warned incoming governors to be prepared for the possibility of another cycle of recession by mid-2020 to third quarter 2021.
The NGF chair had reminded participants that it would not be a smooth ride as they head into their new administrations on May 29, if prudent management of resources was not immediately ensured at all tiers of government.
According to him, while the crude oil price was over $100 from 2011-15, the price nosedived to less than 75 percent from 2015, leading to a recession.
“On our part, we made a lot of achievements in infrastructural development and provision of social services because we enjoyed a relatively high oil price of about $100 to $114 per barrel between 2001 and the middle of 2014. However, by the mid-2014, the price of crude oil, which is sadly the main driving force of government’s expenditure, dropped to $75 per barrel. It, therefore, became very difficult for many states to even pay salaries of their workers,” Yari said.
“This scenario is a wake-up call for all of you to come amply prepared to face these kinds of challenges, especially since we are expecting the possibility of another cycle of recession by mid-2020 and which may last up to third quarter of 2021. Your good spirit of stewardship will make you contain the situation should there be one. Also, as members of the National Economic Council, you must work hand in hand to boost the economy in tandem with the global best practices.”
The warning, as reported by the press, has since attracted uncomplimentary reactions from Nigerians, especially economic and industrial stakeholders.
When pressed to offer reasons why journalists were not allowed access, security officials claimed that the order came from the NGF.
But NGF spokesman Abdulrazaq Barkindo promptly dismissed the suggestion, saying that the security officials took the decision on their own accord.
He said all efforts to get them to reverse the decision have failed.