Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II has said the sustenance of the much pronounced subsidy regime on petroleum products by successive administrations is the precursor of the country’s continued stunted economic growth.
The monarch also said there were indications that Nigeria was heading towards economic bankruptcy.
Speaking Tuesday at the 3rd national treasury workshop held at the Coronation Hall, Kano Government House, Sanusi said subsidising the petroleum sector had done more harm than good at the time the quest for productivity in the nation’s economic sector was much desired.
Sanusi said Nigerian government had paid a heavy price as a result of the continued import of petroleum products into the country.
He said the status of global oil prices was always determined by the unfolding events across the world with major international diplomatic disputes making the prices of oil to soar to the advantage of the major oil producing countries. Sanusi, a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, further said Nigeria being a great beneficiary of such standoffs found itself spending the proceeds on subsidising the oil being imported into the country.
He said: “I always find myself in a cul-de-sac anytime I am asked to come to speak on a topic relating to the nation’s economic development. All I know is that I am speaking from the bottom of my heart and my conscience without any prejudice. I always decline to speak on a topic like this just to avoid landing into trouble. As a matter of fact, Nigeria is heading for bankruptcy economically.
“Even the president himself had recently said at his inaugural speech that he is willing to lift millions of Nigerians out of the bondage of extreme poverty. This would not be realistic until we take urgent steps to address the knotty issues involved. We have to put a stop to subsidising the petroleum sector for the huge money being spent to be injected into the education sector and the agricultural sector too.
“If we continue to pay high credence to subsidising both the petroleum and electricity sectors, we are doing a great disservice to ourselves. I remember what Bill Gates said at the United Nations when he presented a goal keeper’s report. Gates said by the year 2050, the population of the world would be engulfed by extreme poverty that would stand at 85 per cent; the African continent would be the hardest hit.”
The monarch further quoted Gates as saying “two countries in African would get half of the percentage of the poverty share, that is, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“This grim statistics and prognosis should be a course for serious concern to every Nigerian.”
He said it’s incumbent on managers of the nation’s treasury to buckle up and rise to the challenge of seeking ways and means of managing public finances in line with the prevailing trend all over the globe.
Sanusi said “subsidising the petroleum and electricity sectors at the expense of education; health and agricultural sectors would put a cog in the nation’s quest for speedy economic development.”
Speaking earlier, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, said fighting corruption in all its ramifications required the concerted effort of relevant stakeholders in every sphere of human interest.
With zero tolerance for corruption, Magu said, Nigeria’s future would be bright.
The EFCC boss said accountability and transparency were genuine pillars of democracy everywhere in the globe and that “a nation often loses its integrity, honour and prestige with excessive corruption eating deep into its body fabric.” He said fighting graft was not the sole responsibility of the EFCC.
Magu said the 3rd national treasury workshop would open the floodgate for relevant stakeholders to take a cue from countries that had espoused the good virtues of accountability and transparency in spending public funds.
He said ignoring the key indices of good governance in a democratic setting would be inimical to national interest.