The Nigerian government is financially broke and barely able to pay its bills, an investigation by SaharaReporters has revealed. The portrait of the Nigerian government’s dismal financial situation is in sharp contrast to recent propaganda by Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Both officials have sought to depict the Nigerian economy as vibrant and robust.
Several sources in Abuja, including a legislator, a senior bureaucrat and an insider in the Presidency, told SaharaReporters that the government in recent weeks had failed to release budgetary allocations to various ministries to meet their obligations.
The sources also disclosed that the Federal Government has also borrowed massively from local and foreign banks to pay its recurrent expenditures. They added that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was now eyeing the N3.4 trillion pension funds to enable it to finance its deficits.
The Presidency source also revealed that Nigeria’s net oil export has been cut by half as elements close to Mr. Jonathan have engaged in massive oil theft with the connivance of the Nigerian Navy as well as members of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta region.
Since her second tour as a prominent minister in Nigeria, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala has constantly told the public that the Nigerian economy was buoyant. But in private she has told close associates, officials of international finance bodies as European and North American nations that Nigeria’s economic outlook was getting worse especially with decreased oil sales. With her blessing, Nigeria has also resorted to massive borrowing from China and several other non-traditional loan sources to plug financial deficits.
An economic analyst in Abuja told SaharaReporters, “By the end of Mr. Jonathan's tenure, Ms. Iweala would have borrowed Nigeria back to the Stone Age,” referring to the period Nigeria racked up loans from the IMF as well as Paris and London Clubs essentially to finance the grasping needs of Nigeria’s corrupt elite.
Another source, a legislator, stated that he was disturbed by the dire economic portrait. He described Mr. Jonathan as “overseeing the biggest era of corruption in Nigeria's history.”
At the heart of the latest plot to loot Nigeria’s resources is the plan to plant one of President Jonathan's trusted allies at the helm of the country’s pension fund to facilitate the diversion of funds meant for retirees for political and other goals.
The Presidency source said Mr. Jonathan’s inner circle was anxious to keep news of Nigeria’s poor economic outlook and financial rating from public view. “As you know, Nigeria has been downgraded in recent weeks by international financial rating organizations, but the government wants to maintain that everything is rosy.”
The lawmaker, who belongs to the same Peoples Democratic Party that is the ruling party, said he was sad that President Jonathan and his closest associates are engaged in mindless looting of the treasury for the purpose of buying victory in the 2015 general elections.