Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, Ms. Christine Lagarde, arrived Nigeria, yesterday, on a four-day official visit to engage with policy makers and other stakeholders on how her organisation can partner the nation for a better economy.
She arrived the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport aboard a private plane at about 3pm, where she was received by Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
Although she did not speak to journalists, her organisation said “the visit to Nigeria will provide an opportunity to strengthen the fund’s partnership with the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa.”
While in Abuja, Ms. Lagarde will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and other senior leaders as well as business leaders, prominent women, and representatives of civil society. She will also meet with legislators.
“I look forward to productive meetings with President Buhari and his colleagues as they address important economic challenges, most importantly the impact of low oil prices,” Ms. Lagarde was quoted as having said in preparation for the visit which will end on Thursday, January 7.
According to her, “Nigeria is working hard to improve its business environment, promote opportunities for growth in the private sector, and strengthen social cohesion, all areas where the government has an important role to play.”
Ms. Lagarde, who is on a two-nation tour will leave Nigeria for Cameroon, where she will also meet President Paul Biya, Cameroonian economic policy makers, private sector executives, women leaders, and members of Civil Society Organisations.
The Nigeria Labour Coungress, NLC, had last week accused the President Buhari administration of playing the IMF script by removing subsidy on petroleum products and warned that it would resist any attempt to increase prices of the products through the back door.
Last year, the IMF had advised the Buhari administration to remove the fuel subsidy. The call was made by the IMF Director African Department, Ms. Antoinette Sayeh, while fielding questions at the Africa Region press conference during the 2015 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF.
The IMF Director said: “This is the time the Nigerian government has to deal with the subsidy issue – now that the prices of oil have fallen because when prices rise it would be very difficult to remove subsidies.”
“But to achieve this, the government actually has to make sure and convince the people that the savings in subsidy would be used to improve the lives of the citizens. This is what they need to do to make it politically feasible to remove fuel subsidy.”