Special Report: President Tinubu Blames Buhari, His Predecessor For Nigerian Economic Woes, Says He took Over A Bankrupted country

By Suleiman Umaru and Lateef Adegbite

With barely six months after former President Muhammadu Buhari left office as President and Commander -In- Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces, and retired to Daura, his home town in Katsina state after eight years in office, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his political ally who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state   appears to have turned the heat against him because of the damage inflicted on the economy which is telling on his Administration.   

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Signs that the immediate  past Nigerian President  will run into problem with Tinubu, his successor, who had contested the February 25, 2023, Presidential race on the platform of the  ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, and won,  began  when    he told the ministers, Presidential Aides and Permanent Secretaries at a two -day retreat with him recently  at the Villa that things may not be going down well as expected because   he had ‘’accepted the assets and Liabilities  of the former Katsina state born Nigerian President. He is right.  The immediate past Nigerian President was said to have left a huge debt profile of over103.11 billion, of the North American country of the United States, US, dollars   for his successor, Tinubu, as at May 29, 2023.

 Nuhu Ribadu, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, and one -time Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and, now the country’s    National Security Adviser, NSA, may have spoken the mind of the Nigerian President who is no longer finding it funny with the depreciating value of the naira at both the  official and parallel foreign exchange  may have opened up, fuelling speculations making the rounds that the  relationship between the duo may have  broken down.

The former Lagos state governor who is faced with shortage of the, US, dollars and other major world currencies in the country may have allowed the former EFCC, boss to drop the bombshell to divert people’s attention from the current economic hardship and the planned Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC, strike which had been suspended with the intervention of the NSA, National Assembly Lawmakers, Imo state Elders and other well- meaning Nigerians.

Nuhu Ribadu: NSA

The Adamawa state born politician, who spoke at the Chief of Defence Intelligence, 2023, Annual Conference with the theme ‘’Leveraging Defence Diplomacy and Effective Regional Collaboration for Enhanced   National Security, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, may have shocked Nigerians when he revealed   that Buhari’s Administration had looted the country bankrupt before handing over power to Tinubu, his predecessor on May 29, 2023.  

 The NSA was emphatic that he former Nigerian President who many see as ‘’Mr. Sant’’   left no money in the treasury for the incumbent Nigerian President to run the country.  He may have painted a sorry state of things for the new government when he disclosed that ‘’all the money   the new government is getting from its crude oil sales in the international oil market and other maritime exports is being used to pay back what was borrowed by the previous Administration.

Notwithstanding the financial mess left behind by the erstwhile Buhari’s Administration, the country the NSA , was said to have  reassured  the Nigerian military  that there was no cause for alarm   as President Tinubu and his Team, will not rest   in their oars  in ensuring a robust  and viable  defence  management  and security apparatus  to address   the country’s contemporary challenges.   He was said to have made it clear to the military personnel that though the Tinubu’s Administration inherited a difficult situation, the Administration   is doing everything within its powers to meet   the country’s requirements   particular, the armed Forces.

Even in far way Saudi Arabia   a country that had cancelled 264 Nigerian Passengers visas  and subsequently deported them back to Nigeria on grounds that they  had submitted’’ incorrect information  to obtained  a category of visa  that doesn’t apply to them  which was discovered  upon arrival in Jeddah,  a major city in the Saudi, where  the Nigerian  President had travelled to for the Laser Hajj ,  had corroborated  what the NSA had said when  he disclosed that  his  Administration  had ‘’inherited serious  liabilities  and assets from his  predecessors . He had lamented that Nigeria has ‘’serious deficits in port and power infrastructure as well agro-allied facilities’’ which is an indictment on past Administrations.     

      Bello Matawalle, a former governor of Zamfara, home state of the Bandits Group in the north western geo-political region and now minister of state, Defence, under the present Tinubu’s Administration may have  added to the problem left behind  in the country by the former President  when he revealed based on facts that he never    take  the issue  of  the country’s security  seriously’’. The minister was emphatic that that the Buhari’s Administration did not tackle Nigerian security challenges seriously contrary to reports making the rounds.

The former Buhari’s Administration was said to have invested  over  US $1 billion between 2015 and 2023,  in acquisition of  arms and ammunitions from the United States and other weapons producing countries  across the world  in the fight against  terrorism in the  north eastern states of Borno and Yobe and banditry in  the north western states  of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Katsina , the former President home state  including  battling the Indigenous People of Biafra and Eastern security Network in the south eastern geopolitical region but the security challenges  of the country remained unresolved.

The former Zamfara state governor had said that that the Lagos state born Nigerian President has not allowed the financial mess of the country to neglect re-equipping the country’s military as he disclosed that the Defence ministry had just taken delivery of new attack helicopters to boost the fight against insecurity in the country.

  Many believe that the Tinubu’s Administration had done to expose the Buhari’s Administration was not different from what he did to those who had ruled the country on the Platform of the Opposition People’s Democratic for 16 years, accusing them of frittering away the country’s resources with nothing to show for it.

 Shehu Sani, an activist and a- one-time Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria would want Tinubu to expedite action to recover   all the funds looted by the Buhari’s Administration in the light of the revelation by the NSA.   Recall the former Nigerian President it was reported to have spent $19 billion to repair the country’s four moribund refineries in PortHarcourt, Rivers Warri, Delta state and Kaduna, north western Nigeria.

It was said to have also  spent  $3.6 billion to contain the Asian country of China emerged Coronavirus, popular, Covid 19,  $8 billion on 41 Peace keeping operations worldwide, which were part of the  money borrowed abroad.

 Itsey  Sagay, a Professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN,  who  was  the former  Chairman of  Presidential Advisory  Committee on Corruption under the Buhari’s Administration  would not agree with Ribadu, the NSA, that  the immediate past Nigerian President left the country bankrupt.

The legal luminary had accused the former Lagos state governor   of being responsible for Nigeria’s present economic crisis.  He  had told the Independent Newspaper interviewers recently  that Tinubu, was  carried away  about his election as Nigerian President  and that the bulks stops on his table to have made terrible mistakes   in his economic policies  at the early stage of the Administration    with the abrupt removal  of subsidy  on Premium Motor Spirit, popular, petrol, and the decision to float the naira which his predecessor could not do despite pressures from the  leadership of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, IMF,  including the Paris Club, London Club and other Multilateral Financial Institutions.

The   former Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption under the previous political dispensation may have replied Ribadu, the NSA, when he declared that  Tinubu should carry his own cross  instead of looking for who to blame over  his inability to perform , noting that his removal of petrol subsidy and unification of the official and parallel forex exchange markets was what had    triggered off  the hardship  Nigerians  are going through presently.

Prof. Sagay Says Tinubu’s hasty economic decisions triggered off economic hardship in Nigeria

The Legal expert noted that the incumbent Nigerian Leader’’ saying that petrol subsidy is gone   was such a hasty statement when he hadn’t put up any arrangement   to shore up the economy’’, confirming what the Leadership of the IMF, had said.  Prof. Sagay   who could not hide his feelings, may have spoken the mind of Buhari, his former employer when he stated   that Tinubu’s decision   and how he started was what have plunged   the country into misery’’ . The country’s inflation rate which had jumped to  27.33% as at October , 2023, has continue to worsen   as prices of food  stuffs has  continued to increase   on a daily basis  in the aftermath  of the hasty removal  of petrol subsidy  by the  President as reported  by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS .

The Delta state born Professor of Law, had said that    President Tinubu should not have been a hurry to remove petrol subsidy   but should have waited   until Dangote refinery   or one of those private refineries licensed by the government    starts refining and then   the subsidy can go.   Nigerians are watching to see what Wale Edun , the minister of Finance and Coordinating minister of the economy  and Olayemi Michael Cardoso, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria will do as he has given them the free hand to fix the economy.

The duo may  have started on a good footing  by settling the $7.6 backlog of forex arrear owed Citi Bank, Stanbic IBTC and Standard Chartered and other Money Deposit Banks , MDB, owed by the CBN, under Godwin Emefiele, the CBN, governor and Buhari’s right hand man.  

The minister was said to have also   unveiled  potential for Nigeria to amass  over $ US$13.3 billion  annual revenue  by establishing  a national asset register which is lacking in the country.  The Havard trained graduate, and a former Commissioner of Finance, Lagos state, under Tinubu’s Administration had emphasised  that the country’s  Gross Domestic Product, GDP,  standing  at $US450 billion,  could translate  into an additional  revenue stream  of $13,3 billion  annually through  the proposed  asset register to fund the  official forex market.

Cardoso, the CBN governor may have read the handwriting on the wall that go with the previous Administration’s policy of halting the use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 as legal tenders would further compound the country’s economic hardship that he had said that old big naira Notes are ‘’to remain legal tender ad infinitum’’.

  Isa Abdulmumin, Director of Corporate Communications of the apex Bank had said that   ‘’the move  is in line  with  international best practices  and to forestall  repeat  of  earlier experiences’’, that was said to thrown the country’s economy into crisis at the tail end of the Buhari’s second term in office.

 The CBN spokesperson may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he disclosed that   the regulatory Bank will continue  ‘’to issue and accept  all denominations  the bank Notes, old ad redesigned  , to and  from  MDBs.   Financial experts see a bold initiative by the Tinubu’s Administration to break with the unpopular Buhari’s Administration and reposition the economy that had been in a sorry state  for the eight years of the immediate Buhari’s Administration.

Additional Report By Stephen Ubanna

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