By Yaya Ademola
LAST week, Governor Godwin Obaseki lamented on the fiscal state of the Nation, that Nigeria is in financial trouble stating, “when we got FAAC for March, the Federal Government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share.” The Edo State Governor alleged that about N60 billion was printed by the Federal Government to augment March 2021 allocation to the Federal Government, states and local councils. Although, Mrs. Ahmed Zainab, Minister of Finance, has made frantic efforts to deny the allegation, her utterances at denial reveal that all is not well with the economy. She, for instance, raised the need to improve “our revenue to enhance our capacity to service not only our debts but to service the needs of running government on day-to-day basis.”
Perhaps, in its desperation to raising funds without preparedness for production and productivity, the Federal Government is seeking refund of $2.1billion, being the bailout it gave the states in 2015 from the proceeds of Liquefied Natural Gas in addition to between N250billion and N300billion intervention funds from CBN as soft loans to states to enable them pay workers salaries as 23 states were owing at least 6 months workers’ salaries by June 2015 as a result of daily crude oil theft in Nigeria and crash in the price of crude oil internationally. It is instructive to note that crude oil sales accounts for about 70% of government revenue and 95% of foreign exchange and this has been the situation ever since, despite lips-service of economy diversification by successive regimes.
Already, the governors are crying foul that coughing out the bailout will sniff lives out of the states as they do not presently have the financial stamina to refund especially considering the COVID-19 economic downturn among others.
As part of its efforts to raise funds, the Federal Government through the Debt Management Office (DMO) has placed saving bond of N150 billion subscription for the public for April 2021 with 5.522% for a two-year bond(April, 2023) and 6.522 for a 3-year bond (April 14,2024). FG Bonds are debt securities (liabilities) of Federal Government issued by DMO office for and on behalf of FG.
Very recently, ex-CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, said Nigeria external debt to total revenue increased from 8% in 2011 to 400% in 2020. He said, “This will have placed federally collected revenue in 2011 at $55.5billion. Meanwhile, debt at that time was $5billion, so we had an external debt to external revenue of about 8% in 2021. By 2020, we have an external debt of about $33.4billion but all revenues in 2020 were about $8.3billion, moved from 8% to 400% between 2011 and 2020.”
But these are just economic crises that could be resolved if we get our acts well. As things stand today in Nigeria, there are numerous social problems that will not only allow resolution of economic crises but worsen them with capacity to consume the country. In fact, it is a miracle that the country has not disintegrated as all the indices of failed state live with us. Despite the fact that the ruling elite have stuck to free rent oil money alone and refused to key into mechanised farming among other creative ventures that will make life better for the people, spate of insecurity and criminality have worsened the degenerate situation as subsistence farmers whose produce used to do some balancing in the economy have been barred from farming by Boko Haran terrorists who kill them in their farms and herdsmen who destroy their farmland and produce and more often, kill them and rape their women. This has made the food prices skyrocket with food inflation now at 22.95%, according to National Bureau on Statistics.
There are reports of gunmen attacks and kidnapping for ransom every day. Between December 2020 and April 2021, more than 600 students have been abducted in North-West Nigeria for ransom. In Kaduna State alone, more than 3,000 people were killed or abducted by criminal gangs in 2020. As this piece is being prepared, 39 students abducted from Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Afaka, Kaduna, are yet to regain their freedom and their abductors threatening to kill them and marry off the women among them if N500million ransom they request is not made available on time.
More worrisome is the ensuing insecurity and criminality in the South-East region. On Monday 5th April, 2021, dozens of armed men invaded Owerri Correctional Centre with some explosives to blast the building around 2am and set free 1,844 inmates in custody.That very day, the State Police command was also attacked with all suspects freed from detention before setting the place ablaze. The following day, gunmen burnt Ehime Mbano Local Government Area Divisional Headquarters. On that very day, policemen and formations were attacked.
Again in Anambra on Monday, 19th April, 2021, Zone 13 Police Headquarters was attacked by gunmen with 2 policemen killed and 3 others while the building, vehicles and motorcycles belonging to police officers and others within the premises were burnt. On Wednesday, April 21, two police officers on duty were killed with several injured and Police Station burnt when Gunmen, again, attacked Divisional Police Headquarters in Adani in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Aggregate of all these problems is a pointer to the failure of the ruling elite in taking bold steps to harnessing stupendous human and natural resources we are endowed with. Instead, they steal the rent money from oil which is not even enough again. Unlike their forebears who personally benefited immensely but cultivated and nurtured our resources for growth and development, this contemporary set of ruling elite are desperately bleeding the system to death without recourse, which is responsible for long decades of unemployment, poverty, frustration and hopelessness – a veritable source of attraction to crime and criminality to the very poor people whose ambitions and future have been ruined by policies and programmes of the ruling elite. Since they have given up hope, they are easily attracted to various crimes as life is meaningless to them in the first instance.
We are under siege as about 350million of 500million West Africa illegal weapon are said to be in Nigeria. Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder which could explode any moment. If quick measures are not taken, we could be overrun with Nigeria corporate existence crumbled. If this happens, anarchy will reign; men will eat men, so to say; children will become orphans and many will become refugees while some of the ruling elite will negotiate their way to other countries. In the short- and long-run, except Nigeria recovers and bounces back, the bitter truth is that the poor will suffer more than they are suffering now.