The immediate past Minister/Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission (NPC), Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman, yesterday, faulted claims by President Muhammadu Buhari that his administration met an empty treasury.
Suleiman said the former administration as at May 29 left behind $30 billion, adding that the sum would have been higher had the governors not insisted on sharing the fund.
He warned that the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, must not be criminalized and painted a plunderer and looter of the nation’s treasury before the generality of Nigerians.
Expressing his dismay over the President’s statement, Suleiman described the report as “unscientific and unfair”, asking Nigerians not to accept Buhari’s claim until there is substantive evidence to back it up.
“It will be misleading for our respected President Muhammadu Buhari and indeed the ruling APC to claim to have met an empty treasury,” he said in a statement issued late Tuesday.
“Government can’t tell us that there is no Excess Crude Account (ECA), Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) or are we saying the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and related agencies had not in the last one month been generating revenue?
“Until they are able to prove they had no receipts from these government agencies in the last one month before Nigerians can now buy into Mr. President’s claim of an empty treasury.”
Lauding the administration of Jonathan, Suleiman justified the deficit that Buhari’s predecessor left behind.
“Money made by government is meant to be spent, and this the immediate past administration did responsibly,” he said.
“Every government, even in the so-called western world, including the US which today remains one of the largest debtors nations in the world, government operates on deficit.
“Is it not on record that President Obama inherited US$3 triillion debt, a collapsed banking sector and mortgage industry, yet he never raised any alarm. None of these has happened in Nigeria under Jonathan.
“Under Jonathan, Nigeria became the largest Africa economy and 26th in the world amidst deadly security challenges and dwindling international prices of oil. In spite of all these, the FG never owed salary.
“Upon inception of Jonathan’s administration, it is on record that the price of oil at the global stage was over $100 per barrel and at the close of the administration, it dropped to $46. Yet, there wasn’t collapse of government and federal civil servants were paid as at when due.” He advised Buhari to hit the ground running and stop giving excuses.