Mr. Femi Falana
A Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has stated that contrary to the comments made by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the nation’s economy is not in short supply of funds and resources but only ravaged by serious mismanagement.
Falana who made the assertion in a statement made available to THISDAY Sunday, stressed that the problem of the country had never been the lack of the needed resources to improve the lives of the people but one of the lack of will, which he said has led to gross mismanagement.
“Last week, Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was alleged to have said that Nigeria was going broke. Her reason was that governors were insisting on sharing the revenue realised from the sale of excess crude oil.
While not holding brief for the governors’ forum, which has challenged the legal validity of the Sovereign Wealth Act at the Supreme Court, it is germane to point out that the economy did not perform better when the Olusegun Obasanjo administration illegally operated and maintained an Excess Crude Oil Account. Incidentally, the current Minister of Finance was in charge of the economy at the material time,” he said.
“While poverty was ravaging the land the federal authorities transferred $12.4 billion to western creditors in settlement of dubious debts, which had been serviced to the tune $40 billion. Another sum of $16 billion was wasted on generating darkness for the country. Several billions of dollars left in the account were either looted and taken abroad or wasted on the importation of consumer goods by a prodigal and parasitic ruling class. In the process, the gross mismanaging of the neo-colonial economy by an economic team peopled by neo-liberal ideologues under the leadership of President Obasanjo aggravated poverty in the land to the extent that 112 million Nigerians now live on less than N300 a day,” he stressed.
According to Falana, the crisis of the economy has nothing to do with the anti-sovereign wealth stand of state governors. The Minister knows that she is not managing the economy for the Nigerian people but coordinating it for imperialism and its local lackeys.
He noted that the federal authorities are not allowed to know the quantity of crude oil and natural gas produced daily by Nigeria, so that at the end of every month, what is shared in the meeting of FAAC is the ‘crumb from the Master's table’.
“To compound the fraud the revenue earned in dollars from the sale of crude is illegally withdrawn from the federation account and substituted with naira funds. Thus the three tiers of government are then paid with Naira warrants instead of dollar certificates with dire consequences for the value of the Naira and inflation caused by artificial excess liquidity in the market. The NNPC too engages in the reckless manipulation of the economy.
According to the KPMG report the NNPC applies exchange rates that are lower than the ones fixed by the CBN before paying revenue earned in foreign currencies to the federation account. For reasons best known to the federal government grand fraud identified by KPMG in the running of the affairs has not stopped,” Falana stressed.
He explained that the growth of the economy had been further stifled by the increasing wave of corruption due to official impunity. According to him, Last year, N240 billion was appropriated for fuel subsidy. But N1.7 trillion was released to the cabal of fuel importers while N500 billion is outstanding. “Out of the said sum of N2.3 trillion, N860 billion was spent on subsidising the smuggling of 24 million litres of PMS daily. In the 2012 appropriation bill signed by the President last week N880 billion was voted for fuel subsidy. But between January and February this year, the sum of N300 billion has been deducted for fuel subsidy. If the scandalous figure is maintained not less than N1.8 trillion would have been spent on fuel subsidy by December 2012.
“In addition to the fuel subsidy scam the pension fraud, the privatisation fraud, etc the government has concluded arrangement to extend duty waivers to 80 percent of goods imported from western countries. Although that is designed to wipe out whatever is left of local industries not less than ten thousand foreign factory workers have been recruited by some favoured companies in the last 12 months. Many of them are drivers, cooks and cleaners. Others are engaged to work in areas, which do not require any expertise,” he stressed.
Falana urged that Instead of allowing market forces to destroy the economy completely the federal government should comply with section 17(2)(c) of the Constitution, which stipulates that the economy of Nigeria shall "not be operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or of a group.”