From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja 

The Moody’s assessment on Nigeria, which changed the Government of Nigeria’s long-term issuer rating from B3 to Caa1 and the outlook to stable on January 27 has been described as a surprise by the Federal Government.

 Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, in her reaction told State House Correspondents, yesterday: “I want to also say that the Moody’s report or downgrade came as a surprise to us. Because we had presented all of the works that we have been doing in stabilizing the economy. But they are external rating agencies that don’t have the real understanding of what has happened at the domestic environment.”

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The international rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service, also downgraded nine Nigerian banks, following its downward review of Nigeria’s rating last week. The banks include Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, United Bank for Africa Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Limited, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Limited, and Sterling Bank Plc.

The minister, however, urged Nigerians to look forward to the S&P rating due for release in a few days, saying “it is expected to present a better outlook for Nigeria.”