Questions have been raised on how the federal government intends to fund the 2016 budget which is less reliant on oil than the previous budgets and also, with oil prices forecast to be going as low as $20 per barrel, significantly below the $38 benchmark price in the proposed budget. The federal government has now shed light on how it plans to fund the budget.
“As a government, we inherited N1.5 trillion domestic debt and when foreign debt is added, we have about N2.2 trillion. Everybody knows Nigeria is not a poor country, we are rich, and we have human resources. The problem was that the leadership did not take seriously, curbing corrupt tendencies,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in an interview with Mansur Liman of the BBC Hausa service on Christmas eve.
“Apart from highlighting our debt profile, we have also shown the changes we have made in the Customs Service. For instance, how much we are making from the Customs Service, how much from petroleum, that is NNPC; how much we are making from the ports.
“There have been lots of leakages in these sectors. If we block these leakages, we would make much more money to run the country despite the fall in the price of oil,” he said.
“It is generally believed that a fish begins to rot from the head; once the head is rotten, the whole body is also rotten. We have tried to remove all the heads of the organisations, and most of the lieutenants have been changed.
“A lot is happening in this government that people do not appear to understand; many permanent secretaries of ministries have been changed; we used to have 42 ministers, now we have 36 because the constitution requires that each state of the federation must have a minister. Also, we used to have 42 ministries, now we have 24.”
He explained that his budget was premised on the need to restore peace, build infrastructure and create jobs.
“Remember during the campaigns, we said Nigeria is facing three things and nobody disputed that assertion. Firstly, there was widespread insecurity – a war in the north-east, while the country’s oil was being stolen at random in the south; secondly, there is massive unemployment, 62 per cent of the nation’s population are youths from the age of 35 years downward and most of them are unemployed, including those who went to school and those who did not, that is a serious problem.
“Therefore, it is necessary to restore peace and create employment. That is why we are returning to agriculture and mineral resources.
“Thirdly, bribery and corruption was basically suffocating the country. If we don’t kill these monsters, this country would go down. That is why those who stole monies meant for arms procurement and shared it among themselves are being arrested and are being shown documents so that they would be asked to refund the money or face prosecution.
“We would use those documents to prove what they stole, collect all the assets acquired from the proceeds and then jail them.”