THE Federal Government has shelved the blame over the current economic hardship Nigerians are going through.
The Minister for Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma while briefing the State House correspondents on the outcome of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, on Thursday, said this government is only on a mission to rescue the country from the recession it is not responsible for.
He said: “We did not and are not responsible for the current economic situation we find ourselves. We are actually a rescue team, a team working on rescuing Nigeria from the position we find ourselves in.
“Under President Muhammadu Buhari, we are determined to take Nigeria out of the situation. The situation started long before we came.
“As you know, oil price started falling from 2014 when it was about $110 and by January this year, it was below $30. Unfortunately, they did not save.
“None of us here now were there, but we are not going to spend our time looking backwards. We are determined to change things in this country. We are determined to take Nigeria from a consuming nation to a producing nation. That is why we are developing the economy recovery and growth plan and that is our focus. We are committed to success.”
Also speaking at the briefing, Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el- Rufai, said those accusing the government of Buhari of impoverishing Nigerians were unjust.
According to him, even though the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo left huge amount of reserves, it was poorly managed by succeeding administrations.
“By the time we took over, prices reduced to as low as $26 per barrel. Eighty per cent of government revenue depends on the price of oil and the quantity of oil sold.
“You must expect a cut in your consumption if the price collapses. If in your own household, your salary is slashed by 80 per cent, what will you do?
“This is what Nigeria is going through. Our revenues have collapsed by about 40 per cent to 60 per cent if you compare it to 2014.
“This collapse happened because there is a reduction in price of oil.
Also, we were producing over two million barrels of oil per day, but due to the situation in the Niger Delta, we are now producing about 1.1 million barrels per day.
“It is, therefore, inevitable that there will be loss and pain. But to say that it is government that is doing it without referring to the cause is not fair.
“When I left government as minister in 2007, we left $40 billion in reserves and $27 billion in the Excess Crude Account, that was what we handed over to Yar’Adua.
“Coming back as the governor of Kaduna State, the people that came after us have blown the money. They blew all we left behind, blew what they earned and borrowed, leaving President Buhari and his team to clear the mess. Nobody is even talking about that.
Speaking further, el-Rufai disclosed that the 36 states of the federation had received the nod of the Federal Government to intervene in the Niger Delta crisis with a view to finding a permanent solution.
Speaking on the matter, he said: “governors also raised concerns on the Niger Delta situation. You know we budgeted that we will be producing 2.2million barrels of oil per day. At a point, oil production collapsed to one million barrels per day.