A Group Puts A Lie To Claims By President Muhammadu Buhari That Nigeria’s Treasury Was ‘Virtually Empty’
Claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that the treasury he met upon assumption of office was ‘virtually empty’ has been dismissed as “a tale” meant to hoodwink gullible Nigerians and divert attention from the President’s inability to put together a cabinet that would help him drive his promised change. Putting a lie to the claim, a group known as Moveon Nigeria, urged President Buhari to be humble enough and make public, the handover note given him by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. Speaking in a terse statement made available to journalists in Lagos, Moveon Nigeria demanded publication of Jonathan’s handover note.
The statement, which was signed by the group’s coordinator, Mr. Clem Aguiyi, described Buhari’s claims “as misleading” while wondering “why the APC government continues to lie”. The group urged President Buhari to “rise above partisan politics by making public the handover notes he received the same way President Jonathan publicized the PWC report on NNPC so that the world will know how empty the treasury is”. According to the group, it was wrong for the President to deliberately gloss over fact that “the former administration left behind some $29billion in Foreign Reserve and $2billion in Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF)”.
Move On Nigeria decried the desperation of the ruling party and President Buhari to criminalize President Jonathan and paint him as a plunderer and looter of the nation’s treasury. Aguiyi, who described the President’s claim as “a blatant lie”, also called for a total expose on “how much Jonathan inherited from the (Umaru Musa) Yar’Adua administration and how much Yar’ Adua inherited from the (Olusegun) Obasanjo regime”.
Mr. Aguiyi also dismissed as “fallacious”, the claim by the APC that Jonathan sold an oil block for $1.85bn and remitted only $100million. In dismissing the claim, Aguiyi said “it is verifiable that the Jonathan administration did not sale a single oil bloc in its entire six years which puts a lie to the allegation that he sold an oil block at all. “The only oil bloc attended to by the administration was the block ceded to NPDC by NNPC.
Being a government agency dealing with a sister agency, NPDC was mandated to pay book value of the bloc which they already begun to pay under Jonathan’s watch”, he stated. According to Mr. Aguiyi whatever debt incurred by the Jonathan administration in the effort to safeguard territorial integrity of Nigeria, following the Boko Haram onslaught, would be justified as Nigeria increased its defence and military spending during the period. He also argued that the inability of some states to pay salaries has nothing to do with President Jonathan as it is left for each state of the federation to set her priorities and manage her finances.
President Jonathan was not a military Head of State and has no business controlling the purse of any state”, the group reminded. “We insist that President Buhari should publish, for public consumption and scrutiny, Jonathan’s handover notes or better still face the job of presidency and quit using every excuse to attack and demonize his predecessor”, the group stated. It would be recalled that former National Planning Minister, Dr. Abubakar Olanrewaju Sulieman, had also refuted Buhari’s claims.
The ex-minister stated in a statement in Abuja that “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 had not in the last one month been generating revenue? “Until they are able to prove they had no receipts from these government agencies in the last one month before Nigerians can now buy into Mr. President’s claims of 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 $3 trillion 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 46dollars. Yet, there wasn’t collapse of government and federal civil servants were paid as at when due”, the minister has stated.