Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has advocated spending less, earning more and borrowing to remove Nigeria from the current recession facing the country.
The options according to him would improve revenue streams especially in a period of low earnings from crude oil.
The former Nigerian Leader said this in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, during the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) conference with the theme: ‘Enhancing Revenue Generation and Obtaining Best Value for money in Expenditure’.
Obasanho explained that “we are spending more than what we can earn. We must borrow as quickly as possible, let us meet who can borrow us with a reasonable interest.”
He stressed that “what Nigeria is witnessing today is not unexpected, saying that he foresaw it two years ago, let us find out things we can do without, we should get discipline. When we have inflation, it affects everything including local production.”
He noted that the major problem with Nigeria is that “we are spending more than we are earning and we have not been able to save for the rainy day”.
He, however, explained further that funds were available outside the country and advised that Nigeria needed to approach its allies who could lend her on reasonable terms.
Obasanjo said that Nigeria must encourage production to earn more and increase her revenue; he however warned that no nation would part with its funds without observing that we are taking practical steps to come out of our challenges.
He urged Nigeria to work diligently to diversify and concentrate on the things she could control as the nation was not in control of oil.
Obasanjo who stressed the need to develop agriculture frowned at policies which tended to turn the nation into a dumping ground for other countries’ products.
The former president, however, threw his weight behind the sale of national assets in order to get out of the current economic hardship.
According to him, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC was run as personal things, even the Central Bank was also run that way, they write notes to the Central Bank to release so much.
We cannot have country run that way.
“We started NNPC about the same time Norway started … and look at where we are. Two institutions that were not tampered badly or not tampered at all in the last six years, was NLNG.
“The second one was pension fund which is going to about six trillion which has captured only 7 million people out of over 20 million wage earners, if we can even double that, you imagine what that can be”.
Obasanjo said “I see no reason why 49% of NNPC cannot be privatised, don’t give it out to cabals, friends, relations, kiths and kins, let it go public so that even my driver can buy 10% of NNPC and there should be limit to the share any individual or any cooperate organisation can buy, there is nothing wrong in that.
“The NNPC will then be run as NLNG was run. The NLNG, they are doing wonderfully well and NNPC was doing very well until we started running it not the way it should be run and if it can be run this way in the past, who says it can be run that same way in future, we must prevent re occurrence.
“Many people thought selling was a bad thing, no, you are reorganising the sector that is all it is, you’re reorganising the sector.
“You talk of assets that are not doing well, no, if you have to earn money to get yourself out of the situation you are in, you can even sell good assets, you can, the only things is that how do you sell it?
“What worries many Nigerians is what has happened before, I wouldn’t be particular but we have said we sold things before that how we sold them get ‘k’ leg.
“This one should not have ‘k’ leg because it will be on the stock exchange, you will buy and they will assess how much and if the government said we are selling 40% of NNPC or what else is there to sell?
“May be they want to privatise the ports, I don’t know but these are things we can look at and get people. The only fear the people would entertain is the ‘magomago’, if there is no ‘magomago’ in it and it is transparent, yes.
“And when the money comes, the way it is spent, yes, and when you have money and you want to buy again, yes. I don’t see anything there, government should nor feel shy, lets come out and say ‘this is what we are doing and this is why we are doing it’ and let people see and if anybody want to ask question, let them ask question, that is the way I see it and if any person is not happy about what i said, I have no apologies.”
The National Council on Finance and Economic Development NACOFED holds yearly session to discuss socio-economic issues and suggest fiscal and monetary policies to be implemented by the government.
The conference attracts diverse group of participants which includes ministers, governors and the 36 commissioner of finance from the federation.
The minister of finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the host governor, Ibikunle Amosun also attended the event.