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Saboteurs behind Nigeria’s economic woes, says Shettima

Shetima, sabotaging

…Says it’s time for Nigerians to come together to address challenges confronting the nation

By Ben Azuka

Vice President Kashim Shettima has said some elements are sabotaging the Federal Government’s effort to stabilize the economy.

The Vice President, who made the accusation on Tuesday in Abuja, added that it was time for Nigerians to come together to address the challenges confronting the nation.

He said: “We have to make this country work. We have to move beyond politics, we are now in a place of governance. Sadly, sadly, some of our countrymen are still in the political mud.

They are the practitioners of violence, advocating that Nigeria, our one and only country should go the Venezuela way. Some are advocating that we should go the Lebanon way. But Nigeria is greater than any one of us here.

Nigeria will weather the storm. Guess what, after coming on board, our revenue for sharing in FAAC was N1.9 trillion. In order not to overheat the economy we had to warehouse N1 trillion and share N900 billion. We are not altogether in a very bad shape than the FX challenge. All hands are on deck to address the FX challenge.

We know the consequences of unveiling the masquerade. Forces are hell bent on plunging this country into a state of anarchy, those that could not get into power through the ballot box. Instead of waiting for 2027, they are so desperate; this country can fall apart as far as they are concerned.

But we are going to visit them. Just a few nights ago, 45 trucks of maize were caught being transported into a neighbouring country. There are 32 illegal routes. At the moment when they were intercepted, the price of maize fell by N10,000, from N60,000 to N50,000. So there are forces that are hell bent on undermining our nation but this is the time for us to come together.

Rally round our President, rally round our governors, and rally round each other. We have the resources, we have the intellect, and we have the resources. I am assuring you that we have crossed the rubicon. We are on the way to improved economic performance. Let’s unite. What binds us together supersedes whatever that divides us”.

Shettima lamented the loss in revenues from its assets over the years due largely to neglect on the part of the government.

“We have not had records, a consolidated register is scattered across hundreds of agencies. This has resulted in gross under-utilization in management and loss of revenue running into billions that would have assuaged millions of Nigerians.

“The mandate and restructuring of MOFI presents a new chapter in Nigeria’s public wealth, management and utilization, MOFI’s role as a manager of the federal government’s assets mandates it to bring expertise, transparency and accountability inherent in the realization of prosperity for our nation.

“I am confident that public assets will now deliver significant higher returns through improved corporate government and innovative private sector partnership.

Higher returns from public enterprises will provide crucial funding for education, health care, housing power, roads, and other areas vital to pulling millions out of poverty. I must emphasise that this mandate is not just about increasing government revenue but more significantly, the optimization of public assets will catalyze improved living for our people,” he added.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, revealed that an additional 60,000 metric tonnes of grain would be released. This is just as he insisted that the government is working to reduce the prices of goods and services.

As a way of cushioning the galloping prices of foods, the Federal Government released 42 metric tonnes of maize from its strategic reserves.

According to Edun, the reforms have come at a price, adding that with the release, prices of food grains would soon begin to come down.

He said: “I doubt if there’s anybody who doesn’t have experience of the increased sharpening in food prices, the national bureau of statistics have a figure for food as of January last year and a percentage by which they believe food prices have increased over the last year.

“The reality is we have engaged in major macro-economic reforms on the fiscal side and it has come at a prize at this particular moment the cost of food and the availability of food is uppermost and I will just like to remind and inform us, President Tinubu has always said he will not leave the poor, the vulnerable the weaker in society at times like this.

He has previously released strategic grain reserves, he’s currently releasing 42 thousand metric tons of food grains and he has a plan of releasing another 60 thousand tons of food grains.

“This is in addition to measures to make sure that whatever is in the stores come out at this important time and we expect food prices to stabilize and begin to fall in a reasonable period of time and in the main time everything that can be done to put food in the market, on the tables of people will be done no matter what it takes.”

He also said that as a way of cutting down on Federal Government expenses, it would be carrying out an audit of the Ways and Means as well as cut down on other extraneous expenditure.

“The CBN has led the way in pointing out that the ways and means has to be tailored down, has to be eliminated and that is what we too are doing. What we are doing in that direction, there was an inherited amount, N22.7 trillion backlog we are monitoring it, it’s like when I am ready to pay a loan at the bank I audit it I ask for an audit before agreeing on the sum to pay.

But apart from that how do you get your ways and means gap, you get your revenue up, you get your expenditure down as much as possible,” he further said.

The CME further said that with the reform of MOFI, government revenue would take an upward trajectory.

“The revenue sources are oil revenue, every day we implore NNPC Ltd to increase oil production at this high and elevated prices, at the same time we want them to cut their cost. Apart from that there is no oil revenue. A lot of the companies that have been mentioned here, government owned enterprises we can see the amount of growth there is then.

“On the revenue side, we were mandated by the national assembly and the Senate during the passing of the 2024 budget, go out and bring in government revenues into government coffers which are the consolidated revenue funds. We have used technology, digitization such that we have laid the foundation for a total revamp of federal government revenues and we expect the revenues to go up from what is due to government at the hands of other companies and enterprises will automatically increase using digitization.

READ ALSO: Loss of N17trillion on Tax Waivers unacceptable…

“In addition, we are also looking to ensure that revenue that is due to government from the corporate sectors, from individuals is efficiently brought in, we have a fiscal policy and tax reform committee that is going to revolutionize and is going to announce very quickly through an emergency intervention bill, it’s going to rationalize taxes, take more producers value away from public sector.

“Everything is being done to ensure that there are no leakages of revenue. But then on the expenses side we are also implementing a robust expenditure framework that removes the leakages , removes the double counting, payment to people who are not whether it is from duty waiver or tax incentives or even expenditure of government on contract supplies etc so that both from the revenue on the debt side, there’s a home safe change that is being implemented and results are already coming through and that is the way that the government will now get itself weaned off the ways and means which have long since played,” he added.

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