• As Presidency blasts ex-president, Makarfi
By Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja and Doris Obinna, Lagos
Nigeria’s earnings from oil production and sales in the 27 months President Muhammadu Buhari has been in office is far less than what the previous government led by ex-president Goodluck Jonathan earned in one year, Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal.
Since the Buhari government came to power, oil price has been in the all-time low, to the extent that a barrel of oil once sold for $27. Previous oil price peaked at $120 per barrel once, during the Jonathan’s government.
According to figures from the Organisation of Oil Producing Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Nigeria’s oil earnings since 2010 till date, the Buhari government has raked in $58 billion since coming to office.
A breakdown of the oil revenue by the Buhari government showed that between June and December 2015, the government earned $16 billion. In 2016, the Buhari government earned $26 billion, while it has raked in $16 billion this year, between January and July. The statistics showed that the Jonathan government earned a total of $453.5 billion between 2010 and 2015.
A breakdown of the Jonathan government’s earning showed that $70.7 billion was earned in 2010, $100.1 billion in 2011 and $96.9 billion in 2012.
Also, the Jonathan government earned $86.9 billion in 2013, $77.9 billion in 2014 and $21 billion between January and May 2015.
Meanwhile, the Buhari government has received kudos from the European Union (EU) and the United States government over its prudence in managing scarce resources.
According to EU officials, who pleaded anonymity, the Buhari government has shown responsibility in managing funds, in the face of low revenue.
The official said it was commendable that even when Nigeria’s revenue has nose-dived, the Buhari government has been able to meet its obligations.
“The EU is impressed that the Nigerian government has been afloat despite the drop in oil earning. From what we gathered, the government has been meeting its obligations. This is commendable,” he said.
When reminded that the Federal Government had borrowed to finance the budget, he said this was acceptable, as no country would survive without borrowing. He said as long as there was conscious effort to fight corruption, whatever money borrowed will be used for the purpose it was meant.
“There is no problem about borrowing, as long as the money is used for the stated purpose. We have seen this in Nigeria under the current government. This is good development,” the EU official said.
On the part of the United States, the country’s official said the Nigerian government had shown fiscal responsibility.
According to a top US official, who would not want to be mentioned, for a government that is not earning much money to be running shows the ingenuity in economic management.
He said that the Buhari government has shown determination to ensure that government revenue was not frittered away by corrupt officials, adding: “This is the greatest plus for the Nigerian government.”
The US officials said if the Buhari government could keep afloat in economic distress, it means that the government would do more for the country if the economic were buoyant.
In another development, the Presidency has said that the President Buhari administration was handed an economy ravaged by years of mismanagement and corruption.
In a statement, Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, while reacting to statements credited to former president Jonathan and Senator Ahmed Makarfi, the Caretaker Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said: “Under the previous administration, there was money but now things are very hard.”
The presidential aide added: “It is understandable that Dr. Jonathan kept his comments short, because a cursory look at any sector clearly indicated that he and his government presided over the most monumental and tragic economic mismanagement recorded in our national history.
“The oil sector boomed under his tenure, with oil prices as high as 120 dollars and peace in the Nigeria Delta. Nigeria earned unprecedented dollar revenues. Sadly, that is where the story turns sour.
“There is nothing to show for the revenues earned; no major capital project was completed, neither power generation, road development, rail nor agriculture benefited from the windfall earnings.
“Rather, the administration presided over the diversion of oil revenues on such a massive scale that even without the protection now accorded to Whistle blowers, the then Central Bank Governor blew not only a whistle but a trumpet.”
Highlighting the atrocities perpetrated under Jonathan’s government, Shehu said: “Indeed the president once celebrated having the largest number of private jets, whilst our youths languished without jobs, our fields stood idle and our factories began the layoff of workers.
“Government simply reticulated oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries. This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy. Economies grow due to capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing.”
He lamented that Nigeria could not record a single major infrastructural project in the last 10 years, saying, “in short the money was mismanaged. Shehu said President Buhari’s administration was left with the task of facing serious economic challenges from the oil majors, which included the demand for six billion dollars owed by Nigeria for oil that had already been sold or stolen.
He said it was only aggressive borrowing by the Ministry of Finance, under Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that prevented Federal Government from also owing salaries.
“The economic wisdom of borrowing to pay recurrent bills is a questionable one, particularly as those paid would have included over 45,000 that have subsequently been removed by the Buhari led administration as ghost workers.
“It also included the lavish costs of chartering private jets, first class travel and other wasteful acts that have been eliminated under this administration. To compound the problem, the government was borrowing heavily and owed contractors and international oil companies.”
On what the Buhari government is doing, Shehu said it had also increased spending on capital projects, especially on infrastructure needed to make Nigerian businesses competitive and create jobs. He said government had blocked the leakages that allowed its revenues to be siphoned into private hands while focusing on other key sectors that could create jobs and or generate revenue such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing.
According to him, if these things had been done when the oil price was as high as 120 dollars per barrel, Nigeria will not be in the current predicament.
“We would not be suffering now if we had no cash reserves but we had power, or a rail system, or good roads, or good housing. But we don’t have money and we don’t have the projects either’” he said.