Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has described the Federal Government’s financial standing as “worse than the states”.
Speaking during a Channels Television programme on Monday night ‘View from the top’, the governor disclosed that even the FG was struggling financially.
About 18 states owe workers salaries while many others have stopped all capital projects, following a massive dip in federal allocations caused by the drop in global oil price.
Explaining why the Federal Government’s financial position was not noticeable, Mr. Oshiomhole said it was because it had easy access to funds.
He noted that the Federal Government controls the Central Bank of Nigeria and can approve any amount of money for itself.
He, however, singled out the immediate Past Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for blame over the current financial crisis experienced in the country.
He said, “When analysts and commentators allude to the facts which everybody can see that many states, maybe as much as two-thirds of the states, are not up to date in payment of salaries, allowances and other obligations to their work force, what is not often stated is the fact that the Federal Government is just in the same bad shape.
“The only thing for us is that under the immediate past minister of finance, they have borrowed rather recklessly in trillions of naira to meet the wage obligation of the Federal Government.
“For example, Jonathan can be said to pay wages, only to the extent that Okonjo-Iweala borrowed from CBN, from various bond instruments, including drawing down over N3 trillion from pension funds. So, civil servant savings, what we call the workers’ capital in the trade union parlance, is what the former minister drew from heavily to fund the wages of federal employees”.
Mr. Oshiomhole, who was a former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, insisted that if Nigerians accused state governors of being profligate and did not save for a rainy day, what would they say about Okonjo-Iweala, who was in charge of over 50 per cent of oil revenue?
When asked to defend his statement in the face of Okonjo-Iweala’s claim that governors did not allow her to save for a rainy day, as they always wanted proceeds of the Excess Crude Account, the Edo governor said the minister was being economical with the truth.
He said, “That is one-quarter of the truth. What you should have asked her is that if they assume that the Federal Government is a responsible manager who believes a rainy day is coming under Okonjo-Iweala and you have me and the 35 others who are reckless, you should have asked her where are the federal savings meant for a rainy day?
“All the 36 states plus Abuja share 26 per cent of the money. This means for every N100 that Nigeria earns, 36 state governors share N26 while N52.6 goes to the Federal Government plus ecology and other deductions.
“There are other organisations whose funds ought to flow directly into the Federation Account and they never flowed there – Nigeria Ports Authority, various institutions, the health sector, the maritime sector, NNPC, various agencies, the gas sector – all of these ought to flow into the FAC and they never got there.
“The governors have control over their share which is 26 per cent. Mr. Federal Government has control of 52.6 per cent. Where are Okonjo-Iweala’s savings of the federal portion? If she can show where she saved it, then you can proceed to say she was right. She didn’t save for the Federal Government for a rainy day”.
The former labour leader also backed calls for an increase in wages, saying since the naira had been devalued by about 25 per cent, it would be unfair for Nigerian workers to continue to earn the same wages despite the rise in the rate of inflation.
Mr. Oshiomhole also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to put a stop to rice importation and other locally grown foods in Nigeria.