Withdraw subsidy to save Nigeria from bankruptcy – Emir Sanusi II tells FGN
By Abdulmumin Murtala
The Emir Sanusi II, Tuesday declared that Nigeria was on the verge of bankruptcy if subsidy on petroleum products and electricity tariff was not withdrawn.
Emir Sanusi, who spoke at the 3rd National Treasury Workshop organized by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation in Kano, advised President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to withdraw subsidy and utilise the funds in development projects such as education, health, and infrastructure.
He explained that it was not wise to spend 70 per cent of the nation’s income on servicing debts, while only 30 per cent was spent on funding subsidies, such that loans had to be the last resort to even pay salaries.
“It like a vicious circle. The country is heading towards bankruptcy. What happened is that the Federal Government does pay petroleum subsidy, pay electricity tariff subsidy, and if there is a rise in interest rates, Federal Government pays.
“What is more life-threatening than the subsidy that we have to sacrifice education, health sector and infrastructure for us to have cheap petroleum.
“If truly President Buhari is fighting poverty, he should remove the risk on the national financial sector and stop the subsidy regime which is fraudulent,” he stated.
Emir Sanusi also insisted that even as the same practice has been on for the past 30 years, President Buhari must tell Nigerians the fact about the economic situation and also act quickly on it because the nation was already bankrupt.
Emir Sanusi said further: “Since I have decided to come here, you have to accept what I have said here. And please, if you do not want to hear the truth, never invite me.
“So let us talk about the state of public finance in Nigeria. We have a number of very difficult decisions we must make, and we should face the reality. His Excellency, the President, said in his inaugural speech that his government would like to lift 100 million people out of poverty, it was a speech that was well received, not only in this country but also worldwide.
“The number of people living in poverty in Nigeria is frightening. By 2050, 85 per cent of those living in extreme poverty in the world will be from the African continent. And Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will take the lead.
“Two days ago, I read that the percentage of government revenue going to debt services has risen to 70 per cent. These numbers are not false. They are public numbers. I read them in the newspapers.
”When you are spending 70 per cent of your revenue on debt services, then you are managing 30 per cent. And then, you continue subsidizing petroleum products, spending N1.5 trillion per annum on petroleum subsidy! And then we are subsidizing electricity tariff.
”Maybe, you have to borrow from the capital market or the Central Bank of Nigeria to service the shortfall in electricity tariff, where is the money to pay salaries? Where is the money for education and other government projects.”
Emir Sanusi lamented that for 30 years, successive governments have had this project called petroleum subsidy, insisting that this was the right time to stop it so as to save the nation’s economy.
Delivering his address during the workshop, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, said: “The overall objective of the workshop is to promote accountability and transparency in all facets of the nation’s public finance and management architecture.
“It is expected that participants should appreciate that accountability and transparency remain major watchwords for prudent financial management practices and are, therefore, a major prerequisite for economic growth and development.”
He charged participants to strive towards identifying the challenges to accountability and transparency in the management of public funds, improve independent revenue base and profile of government, as well as proffer revenue diversification for governments at all levels to cut down the cost of governance.
Also speaking at the event, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, identified corruption as the bane of the country’s economic woes.
Magu warned public and private office holders to desist from corrupt practices, stating that his office had zero tolerance to corruption.
“Transparency and accountability are twin sisters of good governance. They are the tools to tackle corruption. It is true that with this, we can leave a good legacy,” he stated.
Magu, however, called on the Federal and state Accountant-Generals to take the lead in the fight against corruption, adding that they must insist the right thing was done in their offices.
In his address, Kano State governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, said Kano State was the first to establish the Treasury Single
Account, TSA, in its bid to fight corruption and block leakages.
According to him, the state also put in place, the Anti Corruption and Public Complaint Commission to checkmate corrupt practices of public servants in the state.