The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammad Sanusi, on Thursday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to plug revenue leakages in the country if he must make headway in its anti-corruption crusade.
Sanusi, who maintained that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation had been a drain pipe to the Nigerian economy for a long time, spoke in Lagos at ‘the Federal Government Budget Symposium’ organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
The emir was the royal father of the day at the event titled “Come Nigeria – The nation’s fiscal challenges and way forward for the new administration.’
He said, “No matter how good your budget is, if you cannot do simple things like track your oil revenue, you cannot meet the basic government’s obligations to the citizens”
“Before the government goes borrowing, they need to find out why revenue is so low, given that our GDP is supposed to be high”. he said.
He also faulted the NNPC’s swap of crude oil, saying that the country had always been on the losing side in the deal.
“Nobody does swaps unless country like Iran when it is under economic sanctions and can’t sell its oil at the international market or may be your crude is of very low quality,” he said.
The emir added that country was not actually subsidising the price of petroleum products, it was only hedging it, adding that the oil subsidy was structured in a way that could give a lot of room for manipulation.
“Anybody who knows economics knows what subsidy and hedging are. We don’t have subsidy, we have hedge,” he added.
According him, there was no way the country could win with this hedging.
He wondered how the country’s Gross Domestic Product was said to have gone up after the rebasing of the country when production did not in any way increase.
Earlier, the President, ICAN, Samuel Deru, had stated that the ratio of recurrent to capital expenditure at 70:30 was scandalously disproportional.
“As a professional body, we strongly believe that the nation’s economy needs surgical and drastic reforms beyond cosmetic privatization of government companies. And this should be begin with plugging of all revenue leakages, revisiting and redefining of our priorities as a nation, slashing of cost of governance (e.g. by reducing Ministries, Departments and Agencies), investing more in capital goods, enforcing fiscal discipline and above all, leveraging our huge natural and human resource endowments to reposition the nation on the path to sustained growth and development,” he said.