BY KAZIE UKO
Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has advised the federal government to take urgent steps to address the issue of the country’s deteriorating economy rather than playing the proverbial Ostrich by hiding its head in the sand.
Obaseki was responding to a comment by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, that the governor lied when he said that the federal government printed between N50 billion – N60 billion, to augment for March 2021 allocation shared among the federation.
In a flurry of tweets on his Twitter handle on Thursday, Obaseki snapped: “While we do not want to join issues with the @FinMinNigeria, we believe it is our duty to offer useful advice for the benefit of our country.
“The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, @ZShamsuna should rally Nigerians to stem the obvious fiscal slide facing our country.
“Rather than play the Ostrich, we urge the government to take urgent steps to end the current monetary rascality, so as to prevent the prevailing economic challenge from degenerating further.
“We believe it is imperative to approach the Nigerian project with all sense of responsibility and commitment and not play to the gallery because ultimately, time shall be the judge of us all.”
Following her statement that Nigeria’s debt was at a sustainable limit, the Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Thursday, advised the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to ‘rally Nigerians to stem the obvious fiscal slide facing the country’.
The Edo state governor had last week averred that the Federal Government printed about N50-N60 billion to share in March. While speaking on the state of the economy.
According to the governor, “Nigeria has changed. The economy of Nigeria is not the same again whether we like it or not. Since the civil war, we have been managing, saying money is not our problem as long as we are pumping crude oil every day.
“So, we have run a very strange economy and strange presidential system where the local, state and federal government, at the end of the month, go and earn salary. We are the only country in the world that does that.
“Everywhere else, governments rely on the people to produce taxes and that is what they use to run the local government, state and the federation.
“But with the way we run Nigeria, the country can go to sleep. At the end of the month, we just go to Abuja, collect money and we come back to spend. We are in trouble, huge financial trouble.
“The current price of crude oil is only a mirage. The major oil companies who are the ones producing are no longer investing much in oil. Shell is pulling out of Nigeria and Chevron is now one of the world’s largest investors in alternative fuel, so in another year or so, where will we find this money that we go to share in Abuja?
“When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share.
“This April, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, our total borrowings are going to be within N15-N16 trillion. Imagine a family that is just borrowing without any means to pay back and nobody is looking at that, everybody is looking at 2023, everybody is blaming Mr. President as if he is a magician.”
Zainab Ahmed while fielding questions from State House Correspondents in Abuja, had described Obaseki’s submission on the issue of money printing as sad.
She said: “The issue that was raised by the Edo State Governor for me is very, very sad because it is not a fact.
“What we distribute at FAAC is revenue that is generated and in fact distribution revenue is public information. We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the customs and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true.
“On the issue of the borrowing, the Nigerian debt is still within sustainable limit. What we need to do as I have said several times is to improve our revenue to enhance our capacity to service not only our debt but to service the needs of running the government on day-to-day basis.
“So, our debt currently at about 23% to GDP is at a very sustainable level. If you look at all the reports that you see from multilateral institutions.”