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.
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.
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.
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