Olu Falae, former Finance Minister, says the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari government so far has been unimpressive.
Falae, who is also a one-time presidential aspirant, faulted the Federal Government’s claim that Nigeria has exited recession, stressing that nothing has been working under the current government.
He insisted that the claim is “statistical deception”.
“That is statistical deception. If we are out of recession, the man on the streets should feel it. Changes in oil price can account for the higher income they are talking about,” Falae said in an interview with The Sun.
Urging Buhari to roll up his sleeves and stop talking about meeting an empty treasury, he said: “Be that as it may, he hasn’t been sterling. I live in Akure, Ondo State. I don’t see what the Federal Government is doing here. The roads are bad, I don’t see anything being done about it. I know the economy, they say we are out of recession.
“Do I know what they are spending money on? I will look at what I am doing, order my own priorities. My priorities will be in the area of ensuring that power is available and affordable. In one, two, three years, 100 thousand industries will spring back to life. Tens of millions of people will go back to work.”
He maintained that the situation in the country today is not different from that of the Ibrahim Babangida military regime which, according equally battled low earnings from oil sales but left huge signature projects.
“That, to me, is more important than anything. After all, when Babangida was in charge, I had the privilege of serving in that government, the government inherited external debt of $28 billion from the Shagari government through to the Buhari government.
“We were the ones who hired Chase Manhattan Bank to even find out how much we were owing these foreigners, because nobody knew. We were just being harassed that we were owing money, they would not open letters of credit for us again. So, we hired Chase, which said the total that they accepted was $28 billion. The rejected claims were over $10 billion. And the price of oil dropped to $10 per barrel.
“With $38 billion debt overhang, that government still managed to run the economy. Yet a few things were still done. Egbin Thermal Plant in Lagos, Ugborode Generation Plant, the Third Mainland Bridge. Despite oil falling to $10 a barrel.
“And we had $38 billion debt overhang inherited from the previous administrations. So, when they say there is no money, it’s a relative term. My father told me, he didn’t have much education.
“Before, there was a small unit in the Ministry of Economic Development, which handled the disbursement of grants to agriculture-related research institutes, but they built it up into a ministry and that was when wastes started. River Basin Authorities, all over.
“Where are they today? Moribund. Extension service could only be done effectively at the local level, ideally by local governments. It is dead all over the country, but they still give a lot of money to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. In those days, agriculture meant fertilizer importation. Huge areas of waste.”