Nigeria’s Presidency says the Federal Government’s economic team is strong and competent to discharge its duties.

Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, said this when he appeared on a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum here Sunday in response to allegations in some quarters that the country remained in recession because of poor handling of the economy by officials.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic team is composed of competent and tested people with significant private sector experiences. “The major problem of Nigeria’s economy is a problem of vandalism of our oil installations and also the drop in the prices in the international oil market,” he added.

“Look at what we have been able to do in spite of all these problems. In spite of the drop in revenue we have paid out almost 800 billion Naira (about 2.55 billion US dollars) for infrastructure, for capital projects, more than what was budgeted for last year,” he said.

This was the highest amount allocated for capital expenditure in recent years “because we understand infrastructure must play mostly a leading role”, he said.

Akande noted that in the past when the country earned more from oil, most of the budget went into recurrent expenditure with less attention to capital projects.

“When Nigeria had money, and selling oil for over 115 US dollars (a barrel), when we should have developed infrastructure, this did not happen. But now that money is hard to come by, we are spending more on infrastructure. That should tell you that we have a capable team.”

“Now, we are now managing within that scarcity, we are managing to do what we are supposed to do and try to set a template, which is a budget that must at least (have) 30 per cent committed to infrastructure.”