By Oby Ezekwesili
Well, since they are finally admitting “Fiscal Leakages” perhaps with a debate we can all learn more.
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi more than anyone knows that my speech stated that the Foreign Reserve was $45b and not the “$67b Foreign Reserve” they have been quoting to paint the picture of “false accusation” and hence manipulate and distract everyone.
He knows that they are distorting the point of my article by using their “straw number” of $67b which I did not use in my speech. My speech stated $45b Foreign Reserve and $22b ECA and he more than anyone knows that Excess Crude Account is a sub-set of Foreign Reserve!
Sanusi knows that the Foreign Reserve is a “composite” or “aggregate” amount of ALL official foreign exchange belonging to a country. So I wonder why they are seeking to confuse the point for citizens?
He knows that I separated the ECA amount in that speech deliberately to make a separate point on the terrible fiscal choices of expenditure that wrecked what was supposed to be “savings for rainy days”.
He admits fiscal leakage! Well then, is it not proper that we should know the magnitude of that leakage of public resources especially in a democracy? Is it not proper that we should learn how it is that our Foreign Reserve depleted and was not growing over a period of at least 4 years of high oil prices – double the prices at the time that the $45b Foreign Reserve was accumulated? Except for a few months in 2009 when oil prices fell significantly but then sharply rose again what explains the fact that our public finance is under stress at a season of Oil Boom which other OPEC nations are relishing?
Why won’t the FG agree to the public hearing called by National Assembly? It was scheduled for the 5th and when invited, I had to painfully cancel my trips abroad for long scheduled commitments only to be told that the Executive was not “ready”? They were not and still not ready for a public discussion of the issues but they seize every opportunity to make “side comments” on such a serious issue?
What you in the media should do is keep the pressure up for the Executive to agree to the Public Hearing by the National Assembly.
This serious issue is not about me at all but about Nigeria and how the political class abuses it with impunity. I have no personal gain in standing on my now over two and a half decade conviction that Good Governance is the foundation of any decent society that has ever been built to greatness all over the world.
The key FACT is that even by the time of that crisis when Soludo had to defend the Naira with our Foreign Reserve, he spent about $15b of it and still left behind about $45b when he departed as Central Bank Governor in 2009!!!
Now imagine that since that time oil prices have averaged between $95-$100 per barrel and we export an average of 750 million barrels per annum.
How then can the Foreign Reserve only now be starting to grow back to the same size it was in 2009 after such hefty earnings of the last 4 years? The FG numbers do not add up at all and we need to know why!
The citizens need an explanation and that’s why I called for accountability. It is simply a patriotic call which should not result in the name calling by officials of government.
Sanusi has obviously misread the point of my Speech. He needs to read that speech again