EMIR OF KANO ON THE STATE OF OUR NATION
The Emir of Kano His Highness Alhaji MUHAMMAD SANUSI II said in a speech delivered as Chairman of the 15th Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning meeting held in Kano State on Wednesday 24th August, 2016. The meeting was organized by the Kano State Government and the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning.
Here’s the full speech:
“I am a friend of the present administration but if they decide to run Nigeria aground, I will become the opposition.
I will neither change nor be political by telling people what they want to hear. The truth is that there is nothing we are facing today that we did not know would happen. We made mistakes, many of them deliberate; we ignored every single warning.
If you take a brand-new car and hand it over to a driver who doesn’t have a license to drive it and you are involved in an accident, you can’t say you are surprised, unless you are some kind of an idiot.
We should not just keep blaming the previous administration; we also made some mistakes in the current administration.
They must retrace their steps. They have to retrace those steps all the way. We should not fall into the same trap we fell the last time when the government was always right.
The bottom line is that if your policy is wrong, it means you must change it and nothing will make it right as it has to be changed.
If this government continues to behave the way the last government behaved, it will end up where Jonathan ended.
President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration may end up like the immediate past President Jonathan’s administration if it fails to retrace its steps on some policies.
Buhari defeated Jonathan at the 2015 presidential poll in what was described as a total rejection of the Jonathan-led administration by Nigerians.
The failure of Buhari-led government to create employment opportunities for “the over 80 million youths in the country, has made terrorism attractive to the unemployed.
Some policies of this government are bad for the economy, Buhari must retrace his steps.
The Ministry of Budget and Planning is the most important ministry. The ministry needs to think beyond the Federal Government plans on the way forward.
The country has not been able to attract investment. We need to move from our present mode of investment.
Lagos is the story of what Nigeria can do with itself. The country should not be obsessed with oil.
‘Those who want to break up the country because of oil should stop. Oil will soon be nothing. The world is already developing alternative sources of power.”
The funny thing is that you did not stop borrowing; all you have to do is borrow the right amount and apply them to the right purposes. It doesn’t matter whether it is consumption spending or investment demand, the GDP will grow.
Countries like Nigeria and Angola are among the lowest growing countries of the world, growing with the rate of Europe and Latin America. We are the worst performers in terms of investment.
We can always talk of the policies of the previous administration and we talk of oil subsidy and how it turned people into oil millionaires. But we have created another set of millionaires since 2015 from foreign exchange.
The practice whereby Nigerian businessmen obtain dollars at official rate and resell at a higher rate at the parallel market is still continuing.
We have created our own billionaires since 2015 from foreign exchange subsidy. For instance, when the CBN was selling dollar at N197 and people were buying at N300, if I sit down in my garden and pick up my phone I would have enough people to call in the industry to get 10 million dollars at officials rate and sell at N300 and make a profit of over N1bn and if I do that four times in a year, for doing nothing I would have earned N4bn.
And people were telling us that this policy was to help the poor. We should not devalue because if we do the poor people would suffer.
People that were profiting from this were the ones telling the government that if you devalue people would suffer; meanwhile they all got the dollar at N197 and price their goods at N300.
The poor paid the price of the devalued currency and the rich schemed up the profits and it went on for one year and we talked and talked and talked. “If the present administration continues to behave the way the immediate past government behaved, we will end up where Jonathan ended. You may not like it but that is the truth.
You don’t have to be an economist to know that any system that allows someone to make N1bn profit through a phone call without investing a kobo is a wrong system and unsustainable.
For every one billion dollars that was taken from the federation account and sold by the CBN at N197, the states have lost N100bn that can go into salaries, into agriculture and into healthcare.
At the same time the states are going back to borrow from the same government on the bailout when the government was selling its dollars to a group of people.
What kind of economy are we running? Who is advising the government? I want know who is advising the government so that I can talk to the adviser.
We didn’t have money, oil price has collapsed, avengers were blowing oil wells and the scarce dollars we had we are selling cheaply to some few individuals.
Manufacturers have abandoned production and embarked on foreign exchange business at the expense of unemployment and local production.
It is unfortunate that while other countries are developing Nigeria has no ambitions as a nation, saying “Do we really love our country? Do we feel any shame when we see Malaysia that collected palm oil seed from us is now exporting palm oil?
Nigerian public sector wage bills went up from N443bn in 2005 to N1.7trn in 2012, in 2010 when the government increased minimum wage to N18, 000, I personally protested because government would basically rely on borrowing to pay salaries and that would not be sustainable.
Nigeria is not all about oil since oil contributes only 15 per cent to the GDP, adding that if the entire Nigeria’s oil reserves were sold today, the proceeds would only add 1164 dollars per head compared to GDP per capital of 3,000 in 2016.
So those that are making noise about oil should stop and those that are afraid about oil should stop. Oil is just a working capital … that when we sell it we get the dollars that we can use to import. If we can have another source of working capital we can do without it.
I commend the FG for making some changes in the economic system including removal of wasteful subsidies, the country should rather subsidize in production not consumption.
Nigeria is spending 6-7 billion dollars per annum on fake subsidies and all the money goes to private jets, expensive jewelries, and properties abroad and so on and so forth, noting that nothing goes to the economy.
Nigeria earned 16 billion dollars from the oil sector in 2011 but not a single dollar went to education, roads and or power sector. “Every dollar we earned in the oil sector went back to petroleum subsidy in 2011.
FG should focus on power generation and land reform as well in its effort to diversify the nation’s economy.
I am a friend of the present administration but if they decide to run Nigeria aground, I will become the opposition. You are not good friends with government officials and don’t tell them the truth. I will continue to say the truth.
There is an urgent need for the country to return to the drawing board and expand the economy through wise investment for the economic growth and development of the country.
If we do not expand the economy through wise investment, we can end up in classical Malthusian situation.
In spite of the past experiences we had on our socio-economic challenges, this country is still making the same mistakes we cannot process tomato paste. “Tomato paste is being imported from China. It is sad”
HRH Muhammad Sanusi II, Emir of Kano
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