Embattled, but irrepresible Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, is at it again! He has pointedly told the Federal Government that if it does not back down from subsidising petroleum products and electricity, the country is headed for bankruptcy
Seething between clenched teeth at the shocking revelation, the government sought to downplay the fearful prognosis. The Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, made light the comments of former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying he was quoted out of context.
Other sources said the comments rattled the government and efforts are on to take on the emir in a comprehensive response to put a lie to his remarks.
On Tuesday while speaking at the ongoing 3rd National Treasury Workshop organized by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation holding in Kano, Sanusisaid, “The country is bankrupt and we are heading for bankruptcy. What happened is that the federal government do 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.”
“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 that 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 the world-wide.
“The number of people living with poverty in Nigeria are frightening. By 2050, 85 percent 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 the government’s revenue going to debt services has risen to 70 percent.
“And then, you continue subsidizing petroleum products; and spending N1.5 trillion per annum on petroleum subsidy. And then we are subsidizing electricity tariff. And maybe, you have to borrow from the capital market or the Central Bank of Nigeria to service the shortfall in the electricity tariff, where is the money to pay salaries, where is the money for education, where other government projects.”
But the AGF, who was responding to the Emir’s remarks, said Sanusi only advised the Government to consider gradual withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products and electricity tariffs to enable it have enough resources for the development of needed infrastructure, education and health care.
In a statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Henshaw Ogubike, the AGF said the media reportage quoting the Emir as haven said that Nigeria is on the verge of bankruptcy was untrue and totally out of context.
“The statement of the Royal father was quoted out of context. We therefore call on the general public to disregard the online misrepresentation of facts.”
The AGF explained that Emir Sanusi mainly suggested the way forward for the Government by advising the present administration to take a second look at the issue of subsidy, adding that Nigerians deserve and expect transparency and accountability in the management of the nation’s Treasury.
According to the AGF; “The Emir further advised that Government should look at the components of petroleum products and do the needful.”