The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Mr. Waziri Adio, has said Nigeria will remain vulnerable and still depend heavily on borrowing except she develops the culture of saving her earnings from the sales of crude oil.
Adio who spoke yesterday on Arise Television, a sister broadcast company of THISDAY Newspaper, said the country had no reason to borrow money if she had imbibed the culture of saving revenue generated from excess crude oil.
According to him, â€œBetween January 2005 and June 2015, the money that entered into the excess crude oil account as savings was $201.2 billion but the country spent $204.7 billion within the same period, which means that the country spent more than what it saved from oil from 2005 to 2015, and this amounts to no savings at all.
â€œEven if the country had saved 25 per cent of the $201.2 billion, by the time prices of oil started falling, we would have had about N50.3 billion in excess crude oil account alone,â€ he said.
Adio insisted that Nigeria must save something for the future generation and have enough future savings in order to save other streams of income as a country.
â€œWhat we have is too little and inadequate and this makes us very vulnerable as a country,â€ he said.
He explained that the country has three major levels of accounts namely: Excess Crude Acount; Sovereign Wealth Trust Fund, which started in 1989 and the 0.5 per cent stabilisation fund.
He, however, said even though the country saved money in the funds, it would still go round to spend such money without saving for the rainy day.
â€œWe have been in the journey of saving our earnings for over 30 years now, but the problem we have is that we save and spend instead of saving and keeping,â€ he said.
He advised that the country needs to have enough when things are going well.
â€œSo we need to look back as a country and know where we got it wrong. There is good need to spend but it will be easier if we have savings so that we can spend from what we have saved.
â€œWe are not against savings but we should be able to spend from what we saved. When we had a boom, we were saving but our spending became far more than our savings.
â€œYes we know there are some infrastructural and developmental challenges that need to be addressed with money but we need to develop the culture of saving as a country.
â€œIt makes sense to save especially when we depend on revenue generated from natural resources,â€ Adio said.
Speaking on the way forward, Adio said Nigeria must go to Supreme Court to resolve the cases hanging around the excess crude account; amend section 162 of the Constitution to allow for the possibility of savings; and save always whether the oil prices are high or low.
He gave example of Angola, which he said, saves 100,000 barrels of crude per day, irrespective of whether the prices are high or low.