The Federal Government has denied a claim by Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki that N60 billion was printed to augment revenue allocation given to states in March.
The claim was denied by Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed while addressing newsmen shortly after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday.
She said the issue raised by the governor was very sad, noting that what was distributed to states in March was revenue generated by various revenue organs of the government.
“The issue that was raised by the Edo State Governor for me is very, very sad. Because it is not a fact. What we distribute at FAAC is a revenue that is generated and in fact distributed revenue is public information,” she said.
“We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the Customs and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true.”
The minister said contrary to assertions by Obaseki that the Nigeria economy was in a bad shape due to huge borrowing and lack of diversification of the economy, Nigeria’s debt, estimated at 23 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was sustainable.
Ahmed called for improved revenue so as to meet government obligations.
“What we need to do, as I have said several times, is to improve our revenue to enhance our capacity to service not only our debt but to service the needs of running government on day-to-day basis. So our debt currently at about 23 per cent to GDP is at a very sustainable level if you look at all the reports that you see from multilateral institutions.”
Away from Obaseki’s claims: What do the numbers say?
According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s total public debt as at December 31, 2020 was N32.915 trillion, representing a 20.13 per cent rise from N27.40 trillion recorded in December 2019.
The Nigerian economy is in dire straits. Oil price has hit over $60 per barrel, but the country is wasting its market gains on petrol subsidy which gulps N120 billion every month.
“We may be eating up the future with the way we are going. For some us ,we cannot say this enough. This is not the way to go. Most often, I wonder what the Nigerian Labour Congress wants to achieve in the way and manner they tread with the government on the subsidy issue. We cannot keep making economic decision political all the time You can see the way we’re struggling to pull this through.” Chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria Adetunji Oyebanji told the ICIR on Tuesday.
Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 17.33 per cent in February 2021, from 16.47 per cent recorded in the previous month. This represents the highest inflation rate recorded in four years. Unemployment reached 33 per cent in the last quarter of 2020, putting the country among the highest in the world. States are struggling to pay salaries and even the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) cannot meet its cash-call obligations to international oil companies (IOCs).