by KAYODE AMUSAN
Let’s take the example of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who came on board in 1999. What was the position of the economy when he came on board? When OBJ assumed power, there were less than $4 billion in foreign reserves and over $60 billion as IMF debt. But before Obasanjo was sworn into office, he knew what he was going there to do and had his blueprint and road map ready. And when he took over, he kept up with his promises. Those things he knew he could not do with the system, he went out of the country to seek the help of the United Nations. He consulted with World Bank and they gave him support by giving him some Nigerians that were working there to come and assist him in repositioning the economy.
“So, from the external reserve of less than $4 billion, it was taken to almost $46 billion before he left, while an IMF debt of over $60 billion then cleared either through repayment or debt forgiveness. There was no debt anymore and that is the type of leadership expected of anybody that is coming to rule us.
“I expected President Buhari, by virtue of his repeated attempt at the presidency for four consecutive times to have had a formidable road map to redevelop Nigeria. Once he knew he was going to contest again, he should have been reviewing his blueprint after every election and therefore he will update himself with what the sitting president has done well and the ones he has not done well so that he can improve on whatever is on ground. But since President Buhari started his campaign and won the election, I have not seen any of his blueprint or road map.
“However, the situation in which we find ourselves today as far as I am concerned is uncalled for. Probably I am thinking as a businessman since I am not an economist. I stand to be corrected. But what I am saying in essence is that I don’t see this economy being too difficult to manage with good hands. Let me touch on some of the reasons we fell into a recession. I am of the opinion that the issue of blocking domiciliary account was one of the problems which caused a lot of panic in the system. Most of the foreign currencies that we were trading with in the system were moved out of the country.
“Secondly, the 41 items/products banned halfway and banned from accessing Forex from banks, their importers were left with going to the black market and source for funds to import raw materials, is also another problem. The third is the issue of Niger Delta crisis. When this administration came on board, they said there was corruption in the amnesty programme. Tell me any sector of the economy where there is no corruption, including the Presidency. What is expected of this administration is to separate the amnesty programme from corruption by introducing biometrics to know the actual number of those entitled to the programme, build up on the programme and then prosecute the corrupt officials.
“During the last administration, our production capacity was about 2.2 million barrels per day. But today, where are we? That is about 800,000 barrels per day. So, that is to say we have a shortfall of 1.4 million barrels per day. If we are selling at an average price of $50 per barrel, that means we are losing about $700, 000 daily. If such amount is added to our revenue, shall we be talking of borrowing to fund our national budget? That’s the more reason I believe this recession is man-made caused by trial and error approach….”