September 29, 2015 / 2:36 PM / 3 years ago

Nigeria struggles with unprecedented economic crisis: Senate leader

Senate President Bukola Saraki looks on during the 8th Nigeria Assembly in Abuja, Nigeria June 9, 2015. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria is struggling with an unprecedented economic crisis due to a plunge in oil revenues undermining the state’s ability to provide even basic services, Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Tuesday.

The comments by the country’s third most powerful person are among the starkest from officials on the extent of an economic crisis hitting Africa’s top oil producer.

A collapse of global oil prices has whacked public finances and weakened the naira, delaying public salaries and fuelling inflation. Oil is the main source for the budget and to fund food imports.

“The dwindling oil revenue has brought enormous shock to our economy and greatly limited the capacity of government at various levels to meet even basic commitments,” Saraki told the Senate, according to a copy of his speech.

“Our country has gone through periods of recession in the past. What we face today is however unprecedented in ramification and potential gravity,” he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari has faced criticism for failing to announce a cabinet four months since taking office but is due to submit his lineup this week to the Senate for approval, political sources say.

Foreign investors and Nigerian importers have lamented a policy vacuum as they try to work around currency restrictions imposed by the central bank seeking to prevent collapse of the naira.

Parliament and government needed to work together to get “greater clarity in policy direction and interventions,” Saraki said.

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