Former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has state that state governors in the President Goodluck Jonathan administration refused to save for a rainy day.
Obi said the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, begged the federal government to build its savings but the governors kicked against the idea.
Speaking on CNBC Africa, Obi said he was not against the President Muhammadu Buhari government’s plan to borrow, but he was against borrowing without a plan.
“I was in government when the likes of Okojo-Iweala, Aganga, Sanusi were crying let’s save; we collectively said we don’t want savings, and we are now in this mess; so we cannot afford to increase it by going to borrow without a clear road map on what we would use it for.
“People start saving in crisis. Go and check, most nations that save, they start it in crisis situation, because they could see the point of not saving yesterday; and that is where we are.
“I have said it before that even if we saved five percent of all our oil earnings from 1960 to date, which is about $1.2 trillion, considering a compound interest of about five percent, we should have about $150 billion today,” he said.
Obi said the country could put up a savings plan that helps prepare for tomorrow, and could possibly allow government to borrow today.
“Imagine what would have been happening if we were in that situation. That was 56 years ago; we have 44 years to our 100th year of independence.
“What I am saying is that if we decide today to save on 50 per cent of our own budgeted output of 2.2 million barrels per day, we decide to save on just 1 million barrels per day, with our earnings at $50 per barrel, in the next 44 years, we would be at 50 to 60 billion dollars.
“I was in government when Okonjo-Iweala was crying at meeting after meeting, let’s save money; we need to save for a rainy day. We said no. Some say this woman should not be found near this country,” Obi added.
The former governor added: “We even went to court as a body to challenge savings, and look at where we are today. Instead of us realising from that mistake to say, today let’s start.
“Change that constitution that says we cannot save; what type of constitution is that? When we are talking about constitution amendment, we should amend things that are immediate.
“Issue of savings should be included in our constitution today; oil is a depleting asset, and we are not even saving for tomorrow.”
He urged the federal government to embrace restructuring and let the country’s strengths be found in its diversity.
Meanwhile, Obi cautioned those he identified as “Nigerians without a good conscience- rumour bearers,” to stop pitching him against President Buhari by putting words and implied actions into his mouth to achieve their pre-meditated and sponsored ends. portraying their machinations as “immature, wicked and contemptible.”
Obi who was reacting to certain social media and news publications alleging he said his 2019 political war would start and end with the removal of President Buhari, and that he was the first person that had declared publicly for the mega party supposedly under formation for the sole aim of removing the president from power.
Speaking through his Media Aide, Valentine Obienyem, Obi, with particular reference to the article published on page 17 in THISDAY Newspaper on, January 20, 2017 entitled: ‘Buhari’s Burdens’, in which the writer claimed Obi was the first person to have declared for the mega party under formation – described such publications as false and wicked. He challenged those that made the assertion to name the event where he supposedly made the pronouncement and to also make the tape public.
Obienyem noted that not too long ago, the media consultant to the incumbent Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Ikenna Ezenekwe published a similar article which was refuted.
While doubting that such consultants acted on their individual capacities, Obienyem declared that such falsehoods were condemnable, and inimical to what Obi and people like him represent in politics.
Tracing the trends of such publications, Obienyem observed that certain elements were desperate for the former governor to transgress against morality and integrity like them; and since he has not fallen into their murky waters, have resort to fabricating tales of transgressions against him.
“This was how they prayed and made practical moves to get him entangled in the electioneering and Bank crises, when they found out that he is above board, they started writing nonsense,” he said.
Obienyem further advised the affected newspapers some of which staff are used for such under-hand games to act swiftly and expunge the charlatans amongst them – concluding that “Once the media is destroyed, the nation will plunge into bigger crisis.”