The Nigerian government on Wednesday said that the nation has fully exited recession.
The development, the government said, followed the latest reports by the National Bureau of Statistics on the nation's Gross Domestic Product, GDP, and other related economic performance numbers.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said this after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential Villa.
The minister recalled that the NBS had indicated in its latest report that in the last quarter of 2017, the economy continued its positive growth trajectory by growing by 1.92 percent.
According to him, this is higher than the previous quarter when it grew by 1.40 percent, and higher still from the second Quarter when it grew by 0.72 percent.
"The numbers clearly show that the economy has fully exited recession," he said.
"Council members were particularly pleased to note that this growth is very broad, with Agriculture growing at 4.23 percent up from 3.06 percent in the 3rd Quarter.
"Other sectors such as Transportation and storage, Electricity and gas production, Metal Ores, and Industry all grew. Particularly noteworthy were the growth recorded in Trade (2.07 percent and Services o.10 percent) after six quarters of negative growth. Council members were also happy to note that overall, the non-oil sector grew by 1.45 percent, its strongest since 2015.
"Inflation is also trending downwards moving down from 18.72 percent in January 2017 to 15.13 percent in January 2018. Council members were also happy to see the increasing private sector confidence in the ERGP and other policies and programmes of the Buhari administration as evidenced by the increasing capital inflows," he said.
Mr. Udoma said capital inflows in 2017 were US$12.228 million, a growth of 138.6 percent over the total inflow in 2016 of US$5.124 million.
The minister stated further that this has been a factor in the build-up of the country's foreign reserves, which have grown from US$23.81 billion in September 2016 to almost US$42 billion.
"Council members however agreed that whilst these positive results are most encouraging, particularly in the light of where we were in the last few years, the current growth rate is still rather modest," he explained.
"We have to continue to work even harder to achieve the goals of the ERGP of diversifying the economy and achieving our growth targets of 3.5 percent this year, and 7 percent by 2020. And of course, one of the ways we are intensifying implementation of the ERGP is the ERGP focus labs, which will be launched next week Tuesday, 13th March, by Mr President."
The Nigerian economy slipped into recession in 2016, a development triggered by dwindling government revenue occassioned by the fall in oil prices in the international market and unrest in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
It emerged from recession in the second quarter of 2017 after oil prices improved and relative peace was restored in the Niger Delta.
Although the official figures show that the nation has exited recession, many Nigerians still complain that the effect of the exit is not felt in the economy.
In February, former Vice president Atiku Abubakar said it was doubtful whether Nigeria had indeed exited recession.
Speaking at the Silverbird Awards in Lagos, he said, "After contracting for five consecutive quarters, Nigeria came out of recession in the second quarter of 2017 with a GDP growth rate of 0.55 per cent. In the third quarter, we fared better with 1.40 per cent.
"While this looks somewhat like we exited the recession, the reality is that when you factor in our population growth rate of 2.3 per cent, which is one of the highest in the world, have we really exited a recession? Technically, yes, but in reality, it is doubtful."