By Abdulmumin Murtala
Kano—The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, yesterday, declared that Nigeria was on the verge of bankruptcy if subsidy on petroleum products and electricity tariff were not withdrawn.
Sanusi, who spoke at the 3rd National Treasury Workshop organised by 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.
Sanusi said: ‘’It’s 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.”
Tasks Buhari on economic situation
The Emir also insisted that even as the same practice has been on for the past 30 years, Buhari must tell Nigerians the fact about the economic situation and also act quickly on it because the nation was already bankrupt.
Sanusi said: “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 subsidising petroleum products, spending N1.5 trillion per annum on petroleum subsidy. And then we are subsidising 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?”