It is not more a hearsay to political observers that Nigeria is presently passing through turbulent situation which economist termed as recession. The recession at which Nigeria found herself has elicited reactions by public commentators across the country.
Notable among these commentators are the Nigeria economic experts who are currently suggesting way to which Nigeria can overcome this quagmire. One of the strong recommendations made so far was the call for the sale of National Assets, a measure to shop up the Nigeria External Reserve Fund and to generate fund to finance 2016 National
The call for the sale of the National Assets was however rejected with the unanimous resolution of the Nigerian Senate who tasked federal government to look for an alternative way to finance 2016 National Budget.
Thus, the subject thereof has divided Nigerian along political interests. Some have attributed the present economic recession to financial recklessness that rocked President Jonathan’s administration. Pundits on this side noted that former President
Jonathan administration’s failure to save for the rainy season when crude oil price went as high as One Hundred Dollar per barrel culminated to the present recession in Nigeria. Opponent of this position on their part insisted that former president Jonathan left a robust economy for the President Buhari but his failure to
successfully manage the economy well caused the recession.
I am not here to trade blame on who caused recession or not but my take to draw out salient points to my readers on President Buhari’s administration. I wish to remind my readers that sometime 1999 till early 2015, Nigeria had been operating a program called fuel subsidy.
With the fuel subsidy then, part of Nigerian National Budget fund amounting to Billions were used to service it. Under President Jonathan’s administration, fuel subsidy fund payment gulp to more than a Trillion Naira. The outrageous subsidy fund payment was however perceived as conduit pipe by public officials to siphon our National Treasury.
The outcry that greeted the fuel subsidy fund payment prompted President Buhari led government to scrap the fuel subsidy programme. He did not only do this as he also increased the petrol pump price from N85 to N146. The thinking was to remove unnecessary spending by the federal government as they were of the view that this singular step alone will generate more income for the federal government and also shop up Nigeria External Reserve Account.
Taking my readers to memory lane, recall that former President Jonathan equally increased the pump price of petrol too. When he increased the pump price of petrol, he set up a separate account to which excess sale was paid into. This account comes inform of SURE-P
Fund account. My reader will equally agree with me that Billions were generated from the sale of the excess refined petrol and the fund generated therein was subsequently shared by the three tiers of government at the end of every month. Each local government in Nigeria got not less than N10Million from SURE-P fund met for developmental
projects. Whether this fund was judiciously utilized by the respective States and Local Governments in Nigeria is not my concerned in this
Recall that President Buhari scraped Fuel Subsidy barely a year now. So also the hike of petrol pump price from N85 to N146. It will also interest my readers to note that it was under this administration that monthly Charges on Bank ATM was re-introduced so also the compulsory postal stamp in our banking system. All these were aimed at generating
more funds for the federal government. These ought to have generated trillions of Naira for Nigeria.
With the savings from these funds, Nigeria ought not to have been in recession at all. We would have had a robust economy with these
savings under President Buhari. Federal Government would not have had any course to complain of lacking fund to finance 2016 National Budget
The question that is left for my readers is that since federal government is handicap in all spheres, where have these savings gone to? What has President Buhari made do with them? Things have gone so worst such that the National Executive Council (NEC) now contemplating of selling the only hope of Nigeria, the National Assets to finance
2016 National Budget. I am afraid.
Thanks to the National Assembly who acted in their wisdom by rejecting the call for the sale of the National Assets if not Nigeria would have been doomed under President Buhari. Just like former Head of State was quoted to have said, ‘Nigeria’s problem is not lack of fund but how best to put this to use’. This is the replica of what is happening
under this President Buhari led government.
I hope the fight against corruption is not a cover up for the ineptitudeness of this administration.
Shaibu Stephen Ojate is a Journalist and Public Affairs Commentator writes from Abuja.