*Buhari has wrecked the economy, says PDP
*Gov. Obaseki is a distraction – PGF
*PDP, Obaseki creating economic problems, APC insists
By Ezeocha Nzeh, Myke Uzendu and Blessing Ibunge (Port-Harcourt)
The recent revelation by the Gov. of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, that Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN) printed about N60 billion to argument federation allocation has continued to raise more dust, as the two leading political parties in the country, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have pitched themselves in public.
Similarly, the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, charged both the ruling APC and the CBN to come clean in the matter, stressing that Obaseki, being a former APC top notch, understands their intrigues and fallacy to Nigerians.
Obaseki had in a media chat, raised the alarm that the country is facing serious economic crunch and could no longer meet its financial obligations leading to the printing of about N60billion to augment federation allocations.
Following earlier denial of Obaseki’s claims by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called for the immediate sack of the minister for misleading the country.
Zainab’s denial was however countered by the CBN, which in a statement, admitted that it has been printing money on the orders of the federal government.
The PDP in a statement over the weekend by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the admission by Emefiele has vindicated its earlier stand that the Buhari-led APC administration “is characterized by concealments, deceit and falsehood”.
The party expressed worry over the huge negative impact of indiscriminate printing of currency which it said, led to the unprecedented rise in inflation rate to 18.17% as disclosed by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to PDP “Governor Obaseki, as a financial expert, who is not known for flippancy, must be commended for his act of patriotism in exposing the dire economic situation our nation has been plunged under the Buhari administration.
“A situation where the Federal Government cannot articulate and implement policies favourable to wealth creation, but resorting to borrowing and indiscriminate printing of currency notes, only goes to further confirm that the Buhari administration lacks the credibility and capacity to run a nation.
The party noted that the situation has led to further economic hardship with surging prices and falling purchasing power, throwing millions of families in distress and unable to afford the basic necessities of life.
The PDP urged the President Buhari to come clean on the amount so far printed by the CBN to finance the deficit caused by the financial mismanagement of his government, and what the money was used for.
For evading the full disclosure on the printing currency bills, the PDP demands that the Minister of Finance should immediately be relieved of her position, while the President accepts responsibility for the indiscriminate printing of currency in our naira.
*We will not be distracted – PGF
But in a response, the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) urged the CBN Governor, not be distracted by the claim.
The forum in a statement on Sunday by its chairman, Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State insisted that Obaseki’s claims did not reflect the true position of things in the country.
Bagudu said the forum was shocked to see yet another response from Obaseki to the rebuttal by the Finance Minister, insisting that the March 2021 FAAC was augmented via the printing of currency.
“Given the significance of the statement from a sitting governor and the possible negative impact it has brought to the credibility of both the federal and state governments in managing government finances, the forum is obliged to put a statement out to set the records clear, and to the best of our knowledge, the total distributable statutory revenue for the month of March 2021 was N596.94 billion,” he said.
Bagudu explained that due to the shortfall in gross statutory revenues by N43.34 billion compared to the previous month, an augmentation was made in the sum of N8.65 billion from the Forex Equalization Fund Account, which he said brought the total distributable revenue to N605.59 billion.
The PGF chairman further added that federation revenues distributed monthly primarily consisted of mineral revenues from the sales of oil and gas, as well as non-mineral revenues from customs and excise duties, company income tax and value added tax.
He, however, admitted that there were periods when the country experienced significant fiscal shocks in federation revenues, but said the shocks were offset by other savings.
These, the PGF chairman said were serviced from the federation account, including distributions from the domestic excess crude proceeds and the foreign excess crude savings account
“These payments started since 2008 when the country first experienced fiscal shocks from the fallouts of the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2009.
“As a trained economist who has been a governor since 2016, Obaseki is aware of all the support states have received from President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
This, he noted was especially in coping with the shocks that had resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic recession.
He added that not only had states received budget support from the Federal Government, but they had also received bail-out support to meet salary obligations and infrastructure refunds.
“This is why it’s unfortunate and disingenuous to allege preferential treatment of APC states when Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governed states are even greater beneficiaries of all the support,” the PGF chairman said, adding that there was nothing exceptional in this current review of economic orthodoxy because almost every Central Bank in the world had taken steps to support their governments in coping with the effects of COVID-19.
He said the CBN had designed and implemented various interventions which helped in stimulating economic activity in all states and had contributed to the country’s quick emergence from recession in 2016 and 2021.
“Such interventions include the Anchor Borrowers Programme, Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme, Small and medium scale enterprises support scheme as well as expansion of pre-existing Programme such as Commercial Agriculture Credit.
He noted that in addition to occasional meetings with President Buhari, the National Economic Council, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, meet monthly to discuss all issues transparently and exhaustively.
“It would therefore be helpful to admonish ourselves as leaders to work collaboratively in tackling these challenges rather than resort to cheap and demagogic point scoring in our quest to rescue the economy,” he said.
*APC accuses PDP, Obaseki of creating problem to Nigeria’s economy
On its part, the ruling APC accused the opposition of attempting to create economic problems in the country.
APC in a statement on Sunday by the National Secretary of its Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Convention Committee, Sen. John Akpan Udoedehe, noted that Central banks all over the world print money during financial crisis, citing the 2008-09 United State of America (USA) case when it said the Reserve Bank of the US printed dollars to bail out companies that were too big to fail.
“There is nothing wrong in printing money provided it is well managed. There is no evidence that the CBN is inefficient in managing the monetary aspect of the Nigerian economy.
“The development function of the CBN has resulted in various intervention funds in several sectors of the economy. The APC inherited an economy which showed signs of a recession from 2012.
“The economy left by the PDP had no forex to run the system. The looting of our commonwealth was unprecedented in history. Productivity was declining.
“Whether the CBN prints money or not is not an issue. The Apex Bank should be allowed to perform its mandate. The CBN has several ways of creating ‘new’ money. The evidence suggests that money supply in the economy is at the appropriate level.
“The PDP needs to understand how money is created as well as provide evidence showing the composition of M1, M2 and M3 in the Nigerian economy,” he said.
*Obaseki’s N60bn claim can’t be spurious – says Wike
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has said that the claims made by Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, on the minting of about N60 billion in March cannot be regarded as spurious.
The governor has also challenged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to declare if money was printed or not.
Wike while briefing journalists noted that “Obaseki was in APC, so he understands them. So, Obaseki couldn’t have come from the blues to say they printed N60 billion. He knows them.”
Governor Wike, said it was regrettable that instead of the Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to address the issue raised by Govenor Obaseki, he opted to issue a veiled threat to states to repay bailout advanced by the federal government.
“Instead of answering the question he (Emefiele) said governors have to repay the bailout. Bailout is a loan, if you want to take it, go and take it. But answer the question whether money was printed or not printed.”