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Garba Shehu blasts the Economist, Financial Times for speaking out, says they thrive on negatives

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Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, has lambasted The Economist and Financial Times, for their negative coverage of the current administration.

In an opinion piece titled “Economics, Economist, Financial Times and Nigeria”, the presidential aide lashed out at the foreign publications for thriving on negatives.

Shehu called out the Financial Times for expressing worry over a government policy that is enabling boom in rice production in Nigeria.

He further chided The Economist for being panicky about toothpick manufacturers springing up, following tariffs that protect local manufacturers.

He said: “One would imagine that business papers like economic success stories; apparently not. Instead, they feast and thrive on negatives. Financial Times, for instance, is worried about a government policy that is enabling boom in rice production in Nigeria.

“And the Economist is panicky about toothpick manufacturers springing up following tariffs that protect local manufacturers to get off the ground and compete globally.

“Both papers only see negatives. Specifically, Economist dwells on out-of-date statistics. Deliberately it turns away from the positives as it will complicate already tailored narratives.”

Shehu took aim at foreign correspondents for painting a bleak picture of Africa for the rest of the world.

He said: “Some foreign correspondents keep the storyline simple: Africa is home for all bad things: poverty, disease and crime. And unremitting bleakness lives on the continent, and success is the aberration.

“Since only negative reports on Africa make it to the international media, a backward picture of a nation is painted succinctly and efforts at growth in different ramifications, both investment and diplomacy are ignored.”

Shehu acknowledged that there are challenges in Nigeria; he pointed out that “the country is a large and diverse nation with structural challenges that have been passed down through decades.”

However, he asserted that “foreign reports ignore the complexity, and instead offer platitudes as solutions.”

He continued: “This diminishes the difficulties facing those in governance: they must merely “stamp out corruption” or “improve governance” – common advice amongst those quick to criticise, but barren in tangible and measurable solutions.”

He noted that Nigeria’s government is constantly being told to harness the “vim” of citizens; going further to enumerate the achievements of the Buhari administration.

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He said: “Vim is harnessed when a nation has decent infrastructure that connects the economy, and thousands of miles of road have been constructed, as well as the expansion and upgrading of colonial-era railway network.

“When children have good education; we are currently ensuring 9 million free school meals daily across the nation and it has boosted enrolment and attendance.

“And when business reforms create enabling environment; already Nigeria has gone up 24 places in Ease of Doing Business ranking since 2018, and the country is currently one of the top 10 global reformers, which is good news.”

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