Written by Abdullateef Aliyu, Ilorin
Immediate past Minister/Deputy Chairman National Planning Commission (NPC), Dr. Abubakar Olanrewaju Sulaiman has said that contrary to claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that his administration met an empty treasury, former President Goodluck Jonathan left behind $32 billion.
This amount, according to him, comprises $30billion in foreign reserve and $2billion in the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
It would be recalled that Buhari, while speaking with newsmen, said his administration inherited “virtually an empty treasury” from Jonathan.
But the former minister rose in defence of his boss in a statement, describing the report as “unscientific and unfair”.
He explained that the amount left behind by Jonathan would have been higher if not “for the governors’ insistence on sharing the money”.
He said the former president must not be criminalized or tagged a looter before the generality of Nigerians.
He said: “Government can’t tell us that there is no Excess Crude Account(ECA), Sovereign Wealth Fund(SWF) or are we saying the Federal Inland Revenue Service(FIRS) and related agencies have not in the last one month been generating revenue? It is when they are able to prove that they have not received anything from these government agencies in the last one month that Nigerians can buy into the president’s claims of an empty treasury”.
He recalled that under Jonathan, Nigeria was rated the largest economy in Africa and 26th in the world, adding, “How can such a government now leave an empty treasury?”
“Money made by government is meant to be spent, and this the immediate past administration did responsibly. Every government, even in the so-called western world, including the US which today remains one of the largest debtor nations in the world, government operates on deficit. Is it not on record that President Obama inherited $2billion debt, a collapsed banking sector and mortgage industry, yet he never raised any alarm. None of these has happened in Nigeria under Jonathan. Under Jonathan, Nigeria became the largest Africa economy and 26th in the world amidst deadly security challenges and dwindling international prices of oil. In spite of all these, the FG never owed salary. Upon inception of Jonathan’s administration, it is on record that the price of oil at the global stage was over 100 dollars per barrel and at the close of the administration, it dropped to $46. Yet, there wasn’t collapse of government and federal civil servants were paid as at when due. It will be misleading therefore for our respected President Muhammadu Buhari and indeed the ruling APC to claim to have met an empty treasury,” he said.
Abubakar, who was a member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and served as Kwara Campaign Coordinator of Buhari in the 2011 election before he later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the president to concentrate on delivering the change he promised Nigerians.
“I very much respect President Mohammadu Buhari and he is capable of handling the situation and he should hit the ground running”, he added.
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