The senator representing Kaduna Central District on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Shehu Sani, has raised alarm that Nigeria might go bankrupt with less than $27billion in her foreign reserve, if she fails to diversify her economy.
Senator Sani, who is chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic debts, stated that with the high exchange rate of about N305 to the dollar and the fall in the price of crude oil in the international market, the Nigerian economy is truly in recession and can only be salvaged through deliberate policies that would create other avenues of revenue generation or face an embarrassing situation.
The senator made these views known in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Abuja.
The human rights activist stressed that the economic downturn has provided no other option for the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government than the need to look inwards and think outside the box for ways to revive the economy and to also garner the political will to address the growing inequality and the impending social challenges in the country.
According to him, “We have less than $27 billion in our foreign reserve and the value of our currency has slumped and now N305:00 to a dollar. The very resource in which our economy is empowered which is oil, the price has fallen to less than 27 dollars per barrel.
“We must accept the fact that our economy is in crisis, the Buhari’s administration has no choice than to device ways and means at which to revive the economy and roll out social programmes that will address the growing inequality and the impending social crisis that can befall Nigeria”.
Continuing, Senator Sani, who is also the deputy chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, noted that: “This is the first budget in the history of Nigeria that is not predicated upon oil, it is the budget of diversification and change, aimed at redirecting the economy of Nigeria from oil dependency to a future that is sustainable.
“The budget we have is intended to address a number of issues, one of which is to roll out social programmes and secondly to fund the non-oil sector of the economy. The budget is aimed at achieving four cardinal objectives: job creation, diversification of the economy, reduction of poverty and stimulating of economic growth. It also has its own priority, particularly to intervene in some key sectors of the economy such as transportation, defence, interior, power, housing and infrastructures. Now, if we don’t diversify Nigeria’s economy, Nigeria will ground to a halt.
“We are living in our moments of truths and a day of reckoning. In the last three to four years, Nigeria had over 80 billion dollars in its foreign reserve and it has gone down to 27 billion dollars; if no adequate measures are being taken, by the end of this year we are going to be bankrupt. So, I believe that the steps taken by President Muhammadu Buhari are the only remedy that can revive the economy. There are issues with these steps, there are those who believe that we should not embark on social programmes like money allocated to feeding in schools which is 500 billion naira, like the social intervention scheme of 5,000 naira stipend to young people, and also the $500 billion naira that ought to be given as loan to market women and peasants.
“We need to understand clearly that whatever economic formula and module being unfolded, you must be able to address and tackle the problems of poverty and by doing that you will be saving the possibility of a social explosion that may overthrow the states, local governments as whole and destabilize the country”, Sani declared.