Contrary to media speculation, Nigeria is not broke but currently ‘cash-strapped’, the Director-General of Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu, and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, have told a National Assembly Committee on Tuesday.
Speaking when they appeared before the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Appropriation and Finance during consideration of the 2012-2014 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, Okogwu and Otunla said Nigeria was nowhere ‘broke’ and the cash crunch being experienced is not unusual.
Recall that the MTEF was forwarded to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday preparatory to the 2014 budget presentation on November 12. The committee is headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi (PDP, Kaduna North).
Responding to a question from a member of the committee, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele (ACN, Ado Ekiti/Irepodun-Ifelodun) on the insinuations that the country was broke, Otunla said, “Nigeria is not broke but it’s currently having cash flow problems.”
This view was supported by Okogwu, who said though, “the nation is currently experiencing cash flow problems from time to time; it does not suggest that it is broke.
“Nigeria is not broke. We may have cash flow problem. But countries like Greek and Spain are broke. They are now approaching their international neighbours for bail out, but Nigeria has not done that and are (sic) nowhere near that situation.”
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Malam Lamido Sanusi, who was represented by the Deputy Governor (Economic Policy), Dr. Sarah Alade at the joint sitting was, however, coy when she was asked the same question.
Her words, “Since the AGF and the DG Budget have answered that Nigeria is not broke, that was also the position of the CBN.
“As bankers of the Federal Government, it is not our duty to tell the nation whether it is broke or not, but we can tell her the amount it has in accounts at anytime. But since the AGF and the DG, Budget have clearly declared that Nigeria is not broke, we in CBN also believe so”.