Is Nigeria broke? The answer is yes!! Is Nigeria bankrupt as it were? I cannot give a categorical answer to that I tell you. Is Nigeria ready to come out of this quandary? My guess is this: the spirit is willing but the body is not able. The situation is serious as you can see. It is now what is called “situation critical”. There’s trouble in “Musanga” (Apologies to my Nollywood comrades).
Why are we in this mess? It is simple: For the past 10 years we have been selling crude oil well above the budget benchmark. I can still recall some 4 years back, when the crude oil was selling far above $100/barrel. Then, many economic experts were even projecting a $200/barrel benchmark in some months. We were opening new fields and the existing oil fields were being extended. We were in money my people. During that time,2 years earlier , the militants were in the creeks demanding for their own share of the oil largesse. The spending galore was really out of this world.
I will give a note of recognition to one man called Sam Ndah Isaiah(Publisher of Leadership Newspapers) who mentioned something on fracking about 4 years ago. He was very specific that we should be very mindful of what the Americans were doing on the oil production process. Simply put; fracking is the process of recovering oil and gas from shale rocks. The Americans were really taking it much more seriously at that point. However, we were still selling oil above our benchmark so we never cared. We were just “whacking and chopping” our money. We never gave a damn. Now the fracking technology is our nemesis as oil prices have fallen below $45 dollars per barrel making the budget of 2015 dead on arrival. The confusion is still in the open about the benchmark for the budget 2016. Wahala dey o!!
Ofcourse talking about the pervasive corruption of the last Regime is no longer a new story. It was a matter of chop and let’s chop. Then, the dislocations were not initially noticed because we were still selling above the bench mark. However, when there was a free fall of oil price below the bench mark, the excess crude oil account was “attacked and ravaged” without mercy. If you now combine the effect of the election-induced sucking of the reserve accounts, you will understand that we stood no chance. As the excess crude oil account vanished so were the other government reserve accounts.
As money was vanishing without trace, Sanusi had to raise an initial alarm that US$50 billion was missing o!! With Panic combined with additional “government induced “nebulous inventions” the money was reduced to $20 billion dollars. There was no way that the money could be explained away. It has stayed like that; still missing!!
As we are now, it is a tight situation forget all the grammar they’ve been coming out with. The government since 2014 has been operating on borrowed money. This is simple economics: the income into the government coffers has been seriously degraded with the crash in oil price. All budget projections have been rendered useless. Both the 2014 budget and 2015 budget couldn’t have worked on the government income. There was no way the incomes from oil in 2014 and 2015 would have added up to the estimated expenditure unless money was plucked from a hole to dg another hole.
The way the situation is now, government must look for money biko!! They’ve started well by harassing MTN to bring out the money owed on taxes. They have to go into the oil industry too and harass the production companies on the various taxes that should go to government. ADDAX case is a specific example as noted by the Ribadu report. Above all Government must start collecting money from people who were found out to be culpable during the last regime’s reign. In doing this, EFCC, ICPC must be re-organised. They cannot be efficient as they are. A special court should set up to try these cases. The Judges on these cases must declare their assets publicly as part of the criteria for handling these cases.
Buhari must look for money to run the system. He has no choice I tell you It would be difficult to run it with $45/barrel crude oil price. He has 37 ministers. He has 109 senators. He would work with 369 reps. He has 36 governors to work with. I am not talking about the various states houses of assembly and the local government areas with their own parliaments. He must recover money o!! If not…..Ewolewoo!!