The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki is in the news again and generating controversy both in the mainstream and online media over his comments that the country is heading to a total financial and economic collapse.
Governor Obaseki, during the week spoke a meeting with the State’s Transition Committee in Benin and as guest at a programme in Benin, the Edo State capital, where he said among others, that by December this year Nigeria’s total debt profile will be in excess of 15 trillion to 16 trillion.
He then added a shocker by saying that the nation’s financial troubles have reached a crescendo with the continued shrinking of oil revenue which has forced the federal government to print about N60 billion in order to meet the allocation due to the states from the Federation Government in March this year.
“In another year or so, where will we find this money that we go to Abuja to share every month? Last month, we got FAAC for March. The federal government printed an additional 50 to 60 billion to top-up for us to share,” he said.
The Governor also noted that the Nigerian economy can no longer rely on global oil prices because major oil producing companies are now investing in alternative sectors such as renewable energy.
“Soon, I believe there would be no crude oil revenue accruing to the national treasury for spending with the dwindling fortunes of oil.
“Despite the prices of crude at the international market, the current fortunes of crude is only a mirage and the Nigerian economy could no longer rely on oil revenue because major oil producers like Shell and Chevron, which used to make huge financial commitment to oil production, are no longer investing as much, especially with Chevron was heavily investing in alternative fuel and Shell pulling out of Nigeria.”
He, therefore asked, where will the federal government find the oil revenue to share monthly as federal allocation among the three tiers of government.
“We say remove subsidy, they say no. This April, next week again, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, the total borrowing is going to be in excess of 15 to 16 trillion.
“My worry is that we will wake up one day like Argentina, the naira will be 1,000, 2,000 and will be moving because we don’t have money coming in. You are just borrowing, borrowing and borrowing without any means or idea of how to pay back,” he was quoted as saying.
Mr. Obaseki painted an ominous picture when he said that the change in the world economy which is now affecting Nigeria, would be the major factor that will affect the country’s economy going forward.
However, since Governor Obaseki’s statement and the controversy it has generated among Nigerians of different walks of life, the Governor has not issued a retraction, an action many believe further underlines his conviction.
Quite uncharacteristically, the duo of Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s senior media aides who double as diehard loyalists and incurable apologists at the presidency, are yet to issue any statement on Governor Obasekis “Revelation 2021”.
Perhaps, they are watching President Buhari’s body language – waiting for the go ahead to pounce. Perhaps, Governor Obaseki is right after all. Perhaps. Perhaps…in Nigeria, you never can tell because many things are hard to tell.