Nigeria naira
Nigeria's naira weakened after the country removed its currency peg against the dollar in June 2016 Reuters

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has acknowledged his country has become poorer since he took office in 2015. The leader made the remarks as Nigeria's economy is deteriorating due to a fall in oil production and prices.

"It has been a very difficult year for Nigeria. Before we came to office, petroleum sold for about $100 (£77) per barrel. Then it crashed to $37, and now oscillates between $40 and $45 per barrel," the leader said, according to a statement by his spokesperson Femi Adesina.

"Suddenly, we're a poor country, but commitment to transparency and accountability is not making people know that there is severe shortage."

Nigeria has been suffering a spate of attacks blamed on the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA)militants, who have vowed to bring the country's oil production down "to zero". –The NDA is justthe latest group to wage war against the state due to perceived marginalisation in the oil-rich area .

Latest estimates by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation suggested that oil production in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, had increased to 1.9 million barrels a day, up from 1.4 million barrels.

Earlier in May, Nigeria announced petrol prices would rise by two-thirds in a bid to cut oil subsidy. The country's lack of refineries means it has to export about 90% of its crude oil and import back petroleum products at international prices. The government then sells fuel to Nigerians at subsidised rates and reimburses the difference to importers.

The move has angered many, with trade and labour unions labelling the decision "criminal" and calling for a strike. However, some analysts believe the decision was a risk worth taking to solve the country's problems of costly subsidy, fuel shortages and oil theft.

South Africa regains biggest economy title

Buhari's remarks came as South Africa regained the title of Africa's largest economy, a position held by Nigeria for the past two years.

South Africa's rand has regained strength against the dollar. On the other hand, the naira has weakened after the country removed its currency peg against the dollar in June.

However, some economists have warned both countries could be on the brink of recession. South Africa's GDP is $301bn, while Nigeria's is $296bn as per data by the International Monetary Fund.

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