Godwin Obaseki
Godwin Obaseki

OBINNA EZUGWU

Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has maintained that the federal government printed N60 billion to support allocation to other tiers of government, advising it to stop playing the Ostrich.

The Edo governor had during a meeting with the state’s Transition Committee in Benin last week, said that the federal government had to print extra N60 billion for states to share in March because money from crude oil had become insufficient.

He had noted that the Nigerian economy could no longer rely on global oil prices because major oil-producing companies were now investing in alternative sectors.

The governor also expressed his concern over the habitual borrowing system of the government, explaining that by the end of the year that there would be additional N16 trillion debt owed by the Nigerian government.

“In another year or so, where will we find this money that we go to Abuja to share every month? Last month, we got FAAC for March. The federal government printed an additional N50 to N60 billion to top-up for us to share,” he had said.

“We say remove subsidy, they say no. This April, next week again, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, the total borrowing is going to be in excess of N15 to N16 trillion.

“My worry is that we will wake up one day like Argentina, the naira will be N1,000, N2,000 and will be moving because we don’t have money coming in. You are just borrowing, borrowing and borrowing without any means or idea of how to pay back.”

But reacting to Obaseki’s claim yesterday, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said the federal government did not print N60 billion to support federal allocation to states in March.

Ahmed who spoke to state house correspondents at the Villa, described the governor’s claim as “sad” and “untrue”, while promising to publish revenue generated by FIRS, the customs and the NNPC to support her claim.

“The issue that was raised by the Edo State Governor for me is very, very sad. Because it is not a fact,” she said.

“What we distribute at FAAC is a revenue that is generated and in fact distribution revenue is a public information. We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the customs and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true.”

However, responding to the minister in a statement on Thursday, Obaseki asked that the government stops playing the ostrich.

“While we do not want to join issues with the Federal Ministry of Finance, we believe it is our duty to offer useful advice for the benefit of our country,” the governor said.

“The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed should rally Nigerians to stem the obvious fiscal slide facing our country.

“Rather than play the Ostrich, we urge the government to take urgent steps to end the current monetary rascality, so as to prevent the prevailing economic challenge from degenerating further.

“We believe it is imperative to approach the Nigerian project with all sense of responsibility and commitment and not play to the gallery because ultimately, time shall be the judge of us all.”

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