President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed frustrations with dwindling oil prices and the collapsing economy, yet again, in a meeting with Nigerians living in the United Kingdom.
According to Punch, the President made this disclosure while speaking in a town hall meeting on February, 5, 2016 in London. “Why didn’t I come when the treasury was full? Oil price was over $140 per barrel and when I came, it slipped down to $30. Why me?”, Buhari told the Nigerian community in the UK.
Buhari wondered why he didn’t become President when the country was bouyant. He also lamented that he was now at the helm when oil prices reached record low. He, however, failed to say what programmes he would implement if he did have funds to do it.
Despite the downturn of the economy since he came to power, Buhari expressed faith in God, but fell short of explaining the policies he intends to use in removing Nigeria from its current downward spiral.
“With the problems we have in this government, I sometimes wonder. At least, this time around, I asked for it, I prayed for it, I went round the country and I asked for it. But the first time under the military, I allowed the military to take decision.
“But I say why me? Why is it that it is when they have spent all the money, when they made the country insecure that I returned?
“Why didn’t I come when the treasury was full? Oil price was over $140 per barrel and when I came, it slipped down to $30. Why me?
“I keep on praying to God to pity Nigeria and its over 170 million people who are exposed to climate change, illiteracy and poverty.”
Buhari claims that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) programme had helped the government to mop up N2.2 trillion. The programme which was introduced by the government of Goodluck Jonathan was being implemented gradually to avoid shocks to the economy.
On assumption of office, Buhari ordered a total implementation of the TSA which withdraws government funds from the commercial banks and domiciles it with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The full implementation of TSA, experts say, is partly responsible for Nigeria’s crashing economy as the banks are no longer able to support businesses.
Buhari took a swipe as Jonathan by saying he did not know why the TSA was not implemented. But, it was implemented in phases by Jonathan’s government.
“You know the condition we are in now. I am sure with demands from home, in spite of what your effort is, you know we are really in trouble.
“We have tried to impose what we call Treasury Single Account. The reason is simple. This government did not initiate it; it was initiated by the previous government. But it was so unpopular to the bureaucracy, so the previous government for its own reasons, could not impose it.
“But when we came and we found out that we were broke, we said this is the way to do it.
“I will tell you two examples to convince you. Firstly, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had more than 45 accounts. Ministry of Defence had more than 70 accounts. Tell me which Accountant-General can trace all these accounts?
“So, we imposed TSA. By the end of December, coming to January 2016, we mopped up more than N2.2trn which would have been used through bureaucratic system to raise vouchers and sign cheques so that they don’t go into the next budget.”
Buhari also alluded to foreign interference in Nigeria’s electoral process by the government of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. He claimed that the US government “read the riot act” to the previous government before the last election in MArch 2015 which saw him emerge as winner.
“Then we insisted that election must be done according to the constitution.
“At this point again, I must hasten to thank the United States for sending the Secretary of State, Kerry, to go and read the riot act to the previous government and speak to Prof. Jega, the Chairman of INEC and speak to us as opposition that the US would not tolerate any election outside the Nigerian constitution.
“They maintained the pressure from that date until after the election and the formation of the new government.
“I think Nigerians honestly should thank the US for this. The same thing with Britain, they used all their experience and their powers to make sure that the Federal Government did not rig the last election.
“We thank God, we thank these super powers and we thank technology. Why we thank technology is because of the permanent voter cards and the card readers.”
Buhari is officially on a 5-day leave, while away from the country, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would be acting president.