The Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sunusi II, yesterday, warned President Muhammadu Buhari against making the same mistakes of the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking at the 15th Joint Planning Board (JPB) and National Council on Development Planning organised by the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning in collaboration with Kano State Government entitled ‘Nigeria: The Search for a New Growth Model’, Sanusi insisted that Nigeria has to retrace its step in terms of economic policies.
Sanusi said: “If you get on repeating same mistakes, you will only end up like Jonathan government’s mistakes of not taking advices on economy as well as refusing to invest money generated in the nation.
“We will not continue to blame past governments. Right now, mistakes are being made on hourly basis and we should retrace our steps to drawing board and see how we will make progress.” Emir Sanusi was worried that things are not right even now.
His words: “If this government continues to behave like the last government behaved, we will end up where Jonathan ended. You may not like it. But that is the truth. You have to listen.
“You don’t need to be an economist to know that any system that allows you to sit in your garden, with a telephone call and make N1 billion without investing a kobo is wrong.
It is unsustainable.” He said today Nigeria was witnessing so many voodoo economists parading around and many of them are not economists; they are just demagogues.
“The first thing I want to say is that there are many voodoo economists parading around and many of them are not economists. They are demagogues. They tell poor people that anybody that wants you to devalue wants you to pay more,” he said.
He argued that urgent steps should be taken to make things right because “as a nation, things are not going smoothly.” The monarch said that urgent steps should also be taken to correct mistakes made by previous govern-ments on the economic viability of Nigeria. He said that if not done, it would have devastating effect on the country in the long run.
He said: “In 2010, when I was Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the government increased minimum wage to N18,000. I protested, but they went ahead and borrowed money to pay. In 2012, as Governor of CBN, I said that this is an unsustainable wage bill.
We need to reduce the size of public service, which fell onto deaf ears. “I believe we have started retracing our steps and we have to retrace our steps. If a policy is wrong, it is wrong and it has to be changed.”
Jonathan, who became Vice-President to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007, acting president in 2010 and President of Nigeria, from 2011 to 2015 was overwhelmingly voted out by Nigerians following allegations of massive corruption, wrongheaded economic policies and the inability to contain the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
In his place, Nigerians voted for Buhari, who promised to fix the ills of the 16 years of ‘bad governance’ of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Buhari came in on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He has since tackled Boko Haram head-on in a war many believe his government has almost won. But the economy has been bleeding under the Buhari administration.
Analysts attribute the poor state of the economy to three things, namely – the declining prices of oil, the major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria; the policy of the Single Treasury Account (TSA), which has left revenue of the government domiciled in one account and the reluctance of the CBN to devalue the naira early enough in the face of the sliding oil prices.
The apex bank recently announced the flexible exchange regime, which “even investors are still viewing with skepticism.” During Jonathan’s regime, Sanusi, who was the CBN governor, had open running battles with the government, which led to his eventual removal. He had particularly blown the lead on massive corruption in the petroleum industry, with emphasis on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and some unremitted funds.
He was also concerned that the government was not saving enough. The monarch, who reiterated his support for subsidy removal, said few people were using it for their own selfish ends. He also supported the devaluation of the naira because the manufacturers, who used to benefit from it, ended up recycling their wares with the profits going to their personal pockets at the expense of Nigerians.
Sanusi further advised the Federal Government to copy from Lagos State in terms of formulating policies that can boost trade, business and attract investors, adding that the Lagos example can bail the country from its current economic woes.
He decried over-dependence on oil, pointing out that more investment in agriculture, power sector, manufacturing and infrastructural development and attractive incentive to investors would enhance the growth of the nation’s economy According to him, “I just saw that we are always blaming the past administration. But we have also made mistakes in this administration.
“There is nothing that we are facing today that we did not know it will happen. Nothing. We made mistakes, many of them deliberate. We ignored simple economics warning. Yes, this is not a perfect time.
Over and over, there are certain things that you do that you get certain consequences. “If you take a brand new car and give a driver who does not have a license to drive it and he has an accident; you can’t really say it is a surprise except for some idiots. “You can’t just be borrowing money to pay salaries and not building roads, and improving power to boost the economy.
“We are spending 30 to 40 per cent of every naira we earn servicing debt. The new borrowings were simply recycled into much higher recurrent expenditure. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was growing largely due to consumers’ items.