Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

New team to tackle Nigeria crisis

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua (file photo)
President Umaru Yar'Adua says it is time for action

Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua has put together a new team of economic advisers to tackle a looming financial crisis after the oil price collapse.

Falling revenues have led to a 20% slump in the value of its currency, the naira, in recent weeks.

Until now Nigeria had mostly escaped the effects of the first months of the global financial crisis.

But President Yar'Adua has warned that there are tough times ahead for Africa's largest oil exporter.

"We are saddled with the twin task of maintaining macroeconomic stability in an environment of global economic meltdown, delivering shared prosperity to our citizens in the face of dwindling national revenues," President Yar'Adua said.

Much of the fall in the naira's value is due to currency speculators and businesses hoarding dollars in anticipation of the naira falling further, Reuters news agency reports.

But financial analysts say there is little the new team, made up of ministers, state governors and industry players, can do for the economy as long as it remains dependent on oil.

Nigeria's economy is heavily tied to oil, which accounts for 95% of its government revenue.

Time for action

President Yar'Adua is approaching the middle of his four-year term as president.

Until now he has had a reputation in the media as being slow to act on the country's problems.

"Now is the time for action and visible results," he told ministers.

In November last year a supreme court dismissed a court challenge by the opposition parties to his election in 2007, widely regarded to have been un-free and unfair.

One surprise addition to the new economic team is the former union leader and opposition party member Adams Oshiomhole, now the governor of Edo state.

Mr Oshiomhole has been very critical of the ruling People's Democratic Party in the past.

The Action Congress candidate was declared the winner of the Edo state governorship race by a court after he challenged the PDP's victory in what the courts agreed was a rigged election.

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