by Chidinma Onyejiuwa
Folks, remember, last month, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was explicit about it that Jonathan’s administration was not leaving an empty treasury for Buhari.
She responded to the claim by Vice President-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, that the Jonathan administration will be leaving a $60 billion debt burden for the in-coming government.
She said that Nigeria’s total debt indeed stands at $63.7 billion but it is the totality of all the debts incurred by successive governments since 1960.
“No $60 billion was accumulated under the Jonathan administration,” she said.
She added: “Current debt stock includes both federal and state governments debts made up of $9.7 billion external debt or 15 per cent of total debt stock and $54 billion or 85 per cent domestic debt stock.
“Nigeria is still repaying the multilateral loans it collected on concessionary terms with as long as 40 years maturity periods.”
The breakdown of the accumulated domestic stock is $18.575 billion outstanding by 2007, $17.3 billion accumulated between 2008 and 2011 and $18 billion accumulated between 2012 and 2015.
“This is so because of something that happened in 2010 because of the salary increment under Yar’Adua administration which increased civil servants salaries by 53 per cent.
“Those bonds have been rolled over and government had to weather the difficulties because resources to fund such increase were not there,” she said.
She described Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio as one of the lowest in the world.
On the domestic debt stock, she said 20 per cent is owed by state governments with Lagos state having an external debt burden of N1.169 trillion while the balance of 80 per cent belongs to the federal government.
Reviewing her tenure, Okonjo-Iweala said she has no regrets in serving the country and declared that anyone called upon to serve Nigeria should consider it a privilege.
“Some people criticise from afar but some came home in spite of challenges to serve,” she said.
She faulted suggestions that the economy was mismanaged, saying: “The economy is reacting to the forces of demand and supply but there is hope for the country. Only that people will have to make sacrifices.
“The out-going government, she said, achieved a lot but she lamented that “there are very serious attempts to rewrite history.”
Meanwhile, there is still no respite for motorists and commuters across the country as the fuel scarcity persisted yesterday.
Therefore, folks, Gen. Buhari is only buying time with all those lies he spews out there. They are aimed at distracting the attention of Nigerians that Buhari lacks what it takes to rule a democratic government.
Folks, come to think of it, Okonjo-Iweala had earlier before now warned the incoming government on the impact of dwindling oil price on Nigeria’s economy
The country with the richest economy in Africa has to beg for credits to pay government salaries. Nigeria is borrowing money to pay its expenses, Nigeria’s finance minister reveal – and that’s going to be a huge problem for Buhari’s incoming government.
Minister of finance in the outgoing Goodluck Jonathan’s government Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala revealed that Nigeria has no money to pay salaries to government workers.
Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala blamed falling oil prices in that situation. Oil prices, which nearly halved, caused what she called a “difficult cash crunch” as they oil revenues provide nearly four fifths of total revenue for Nigerian government.
“We have front-loaded the borrowing program to manage the cash crunch,” Okonjo-Iweala told lawmakers in a speech concerning the approval of the 2015 budget, which had to be revised three times due to oil price slump.
“Out of the 882 billon naira budgetary provision for borrowing, the government has borrowed 473 billion naira to meet up with recurrent expenditure, including salaries and overheads“, she added.
That means that the treasure has no funds for capital expenditure this year, having to borrow money simply to meet the ends in wages fund. Nevertheless, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala tried to remain optimistic, stating that inflation is quite stable and remains within single digits, while the economy is even expected to grow moderate at 4.8 percent this year.
Nevertheless, this is going to be a huge challenge for the incoming government of Muhammadu Buhari as it has to face the costs of servicing loans, accompanied by naira’s inflation and growing food prices.
Empty treasury is a serious obstacle on the way to fulfill Muhammadu Buhari’s election promises. Besides that, some critics say that financial crisis caused by the decreasing oil prices has been worsened by presidential election campaign in Nigeria, which some consider to be the most expensive elections Nigeria has ever held.
Please, can someone tell Gen. Buhari that Nigeria has never had a surplus budget before? That governments come on board and look for ways to source their revenues. And that the governors who swarmed around him today were told to save for rainy days, but they rejected it. The rainy days are here, lies and propaganda are embellished as truth for gullible Nigerians. One thing is sure, you can’t fool the people all the time.
Even as it is right now, the immediate past Minister/Deputy Chairman National Planning Commission (NPC) Dr. Abubakar Olanrewaju Sulaiman, Tuesday faulted claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that his administration met an empty treasury.
Suleiman said the former administration as at May 29 left behind the sum of US$2billion, adding that the sum would have been higher if not the governors insistence on sharing the fund.
President Goodluck Jonathan presenting his hand over notes to the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari during the official presentation of Handover notes to the President-Elect at the Aso Chambers, State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida
He warned that the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan must not be criminalized and painted a plunderer and looter of the nation’s treasury before the generality of Nigerians.
The clarification was in response to the President’s statement during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, where he was quoted to have said that his government met “virtually an empty treasury.”
President Buhari reportedly said that it was adding a disgrace that Nigeria cannot pay salaries of its workforce.
Expressing his dismay over the President’s statement, Sulaiman in a statement in Abuja described the report as “unscientific and unfair”, stressing that the immediate past administration “left behind close to US$30billion.”
He said, “Government can’t tell us that there is no Excess Crude Account(ECA), Sovereign Wealth Fund(SWF) or are we saying the Federal Inland Revenue Service(FIR) and related agencies had not in the last one month been generating revenue?
“Until they are able to prove they had no receipts from these government agencies in the last one month before Nigerians can now buy into Mr. President’s claims of an empty treasury.”
He recalled that under the Jonathan’s administration,Nigeria was rated the largest economy in Africa and 26th largest in the world, querying how come such a government would leave behind an empty treasury.
He said: ”Money made by government is meant to be spent, and this the immediate past administration did responsibly. Every government, even in the so-called western world, including the US which today remains one of the largest debtor nations in the world, government operates on deficit.
“Is it not on record that President Obama inherited US$3 triillion debt, a collapsed banking sector and mortgage industry,yet he never raised any alarm. None of these has happened in Nigeria under Jonathan.
“Under Jonathan,Nigeria became the largest Africa economy and 26th in the world amidst deadly security challenges and dwindling international prices of oil. In spite of all these, the FG never owed salary.
“Upon inception of Jonatha’s administration, it is on record that the price of oil at the global stage was over 100 dollars per barrel and at the close of the administration, it dropped to 46dollars. Yet, there wasn’t collapse of government and federal civil servants were paid as at when due.
“It will be misleading therefore for our respected President Muhammadu Buhari and indeed the ruling APC to claim to have met an empty treasury.”
He further reminded the new government that “aspiration to governance is a call of meeting and confronting challenges headlong. So, we urge the APC-led government to hit the ground running as promised Nigerians by confronting the challenges.
“We are not in doubt of the capability of Mr. President to do it. He should therefore get to business, put in place structures and personnel to redeem the pledges made to the Nigeria.”
Chidinma Onyejiuwa blogs at www.chidinmaonyejiuwa.com, where this article was first published.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.