Abubakar Sulaiman, former minister and deputy chairman of the National Planning Commission debunks claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that his predecessor left an empty treasury, stressing that he inherited $30 billion
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s claim on Monday that his administration inherited an empty treasury has been debunked by Abubakar Sulaiman, immediate past minister and deputy chairman of the National Planning Commission. According to Suleiman, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as at May 29, left behind $30 billion. He said the sum would have been higher had the governors not insisted on sharing the fund.
He warned that Jonathan must not be criminalised and painted as a plunderer and looter of the nation’s treasury before the generality of Nigerians. His statement came on the heels of Buhari’s statement during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, where he said that his government met “virtually an empty treasury”, adding that it was a disgrace that Nigeria could not pay salaries of its workforce.
Sulaiman, in a statement in Abuja, described the report as “unscientific and unfair,” stressing that the immediate past administration “left behind close to $30 billion. 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.”
He recalled that under the Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria was rated the largest economy in Africa and 26th largest in the world, querying how come such a government would leave behind an empty treasury.
He said: “Money made by government is meant to be spent, and this the immediate past administration did responsibly. Every government operates on deficit even in the so-called western world, including the US which today remains one of the largest debtor nations in the world.
“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 Federal Government 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 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.
He therefore said that it would be misleading for our respected President Muhammadu Buhari and indeed the ruling APC to claim to have met an empty treasury.
According to him, the new government should bear in mind that the “aspiration to governance is a call to meeting and confronting challenges headlong. So, we urge the APC-led government to hit the ground running as promised Nigerians by confronting the challenges. We are not in doubt of the capability of Mr. President to do it. He should, therefore, get to business, put in place structures and personnel to redeem the pledges made to Nigerians.”
— June 24, 2015 @ 10.00 GMT