Rising from its meeting held in Abuja yesterday, the National Economic Council (NEC) has considered some far reaching steps to stem the impact of the economic recession, including state governors cutting down on excessive travels, long convoys and use of private jets.
Also, the Federal Government is dusting up the Oronsanye Report to reduce and merge its agencies, currently put at 580.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State disclosed these measures to State House Correspondents shortly after the meeting of the NEC presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa. The briefing was jointly addressed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma.
According to El-Rufai, governors have resolved to reduce cost of governance by making some sacrifices considering the present economic situation in the country.
He said the governors would have to cut down on excessive travels, long convoys and use of private jets.
He said, “One of the key issues we raised was leadership; when leaders are seen to make sacrifices, it is easier to convince followership to endure. We agreed that we should lower our external outlook; excessive travels, convoys; if you check, private jet business is not doing so well, you know the biggest patrons of private jets are governors.”
He also said the Federal Government was considering the recommendation of the Oronsanye Report which recommended the merger of ministries and agencies with similar functions.
“At the Federal level, we are suggesting looking at the Orosanye Report. We have discussed very important steps to be taken. We have suggested looking at Oronsaye Report that suggested merger and reduce publications of agencies. Federal Government has 580 agencies. They are too many and they cost too much,” El-Rufai said.
Also, the Kaduna State governor said it was not right for Nigerians to say that the present government impoverished them.
He said, “When people say that this administration has impoverished them, they are not being charitable, because I have said we inherited a governmental structure that was based on the assumption that price of oil will remain $100 per barrel.
“By the time we took over, prices reduced to as low as $26 per barrel; 80 percent of government revenue depends on the price of oil and the quantity of oil sold.
“You must expect a cut in your consumption if the price collapses. If in your own household, your salary is slashed by 80%, what will you do?
“This is what Nigeria is going through. Our revenues have collapsed by about 40 to 60 per cent if you compare it to say 2014.”
He explained that the economic situation was as a result of reduction in price of oil, adding that the situation in the Niger Delta region also contributed to the problem.
“We were producing over two million barrels of oil per day, but because of the situation in the Niger Delta, we are now producing about 1.1million barrels per day.
“It is, therefore, inevitable that there will be cut and pain. But to say that it is government that is doing it without referring to the cause; is not fair.
“When I left government as minister in 2007, we left $40 billion in reserves and $27 billion in the Excess Crude Account; that was what we handed over to (President) Yar’Adua.
“Coming back as the governor of Kaduna State, the people that came after us have blown the money. They blew all we left behind, blew what they earned and borrowed, leaving President Buhari and his team to clear the mess. Nobody is even talking about that,” he said.
Also, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said the Buhari administration is on a rescue mission to take the country out of the present economic situation.
He said President Muhmmadu Buhari was not responsible for the present economic recession in the country.
The minister said, “We did not cause and we are not responsible for the current economic situation we find ourselves.
“We are actually a rescue team; a team working on rescuing Nigeria from the position we find ourselves. Under President Muhammadu Buhari, we are determined to take Nigeria out of the situation. The situation started long before we came.”
Corroborating El-Rufai, he said, “As you know, oil price started falling from 2014 when it was about $110 and by January this year, it was below $30. Unfortunately, they did not save.
“None of us here now was there. But we are not going to spend our time looking backwards; we are determined to change things in this country. We are determined to take Nigeria from a consuming nation to a producing nation. That is why we are developing the economy recovery and growth plan and that is our focus. We are committed to success.”