Buhari Left Empty Treasure Behind, Tinubu Must Borrow -Osoba

Former Governor of Ogun State, Segun Osoba, revealed in an exclusive interview on Arise Television that President Bola Tinubu inherited an empty treasury from President Muhammadu Buhari, necessitating borrowing to fill the financial void.

Osoba emphasised the severity of the economic challenges faced by Nigeria in 2023, asserting that the country was on the brink of collapse when Tinubu assumed office on May 29.

 Despite the grim circumstances, Osoba commended Tinubu’s relentless efforts to alleviate widespread hardship and assured Nigerians of a potential improvement in the standard of living in 2024.

As a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osoba shared insights into recent meetings with President Tinubu, highlighting the leader’s understanding of the citizens’ struggles. 

He explained that the borrowing strategy was a temporary measure to address the immediate financial crisis, with a commitment to review the situation after Tinubu’s first year in office.

Osoba also revealed his discussions with the president on practical solutions to tackle the substantial funds outside the banking system.

 He proposed easing restrictions on depositing funds in banks, suggesting an executive order to liberalize deposits and encourage the return of money to banking vaults.

Expressing concern over the scarcity of the Naira, Osoba lamented the prevalent practice of saving money in foreign currencies rather than the local currency. 

He shared the president’s plan to sign an executive order to address this issue, potentially curbing the circulation of foreign currencies at social events.

The former governor disclosed that he had advised Tinubu on managing the enormous liquidity outside the banking system and expressed confidence that the year 2024 could mark a turning point after the anticipated challenges of 2023.

Regarding the increase in the 2024 budget sum by the legislature, Osoba deemed it reasonable, emphasizing the importance of effective implementation. 

He defended Tinubu’s decisions, including the removal of the fuel subsidy, citing legal constraints inherited from the previous administration.

Osoba acknowledged the gravity of the hardships faced by both the rich and the poor due to Tinubu’s policies but commended the president’s courage in making tough decisions for the country’s economic growth.

He concluded the interview by underscoring Tinubu’s commitment to addressing root issues, explaining why the president had not yet visited Plateau state amidst regrettable incidents. 

Osoba emphasized that comprehensive solutions were preferable to token appearances, and he pledged to conduct a thorough review of Tinubu’s administration after one year, recognizing the president’s dedication and the challenges inherited from the previous administration.

“When the treasury was empty and the last administration was borrowing to pay salaries, the whole place was empty. What else can you do other than in the meantime, borrowing to fill the gap?

“That does not mean that the culture of borrowing will go on forever. You met an empty treasury. There was nowhere to turn other than to still engage in a bit of borrowing.  After the first year in office, the whole thing will be reviewed and we will see.

“Talking of borrowing, when your pocket is empty, you have to go to your bank to shore you up for some time. It depends on how you manage that situation.

“I have explained to you that we are lucky, but by June 1, the whole  system was set up to totally collapse. I’m telling you if he (Tinubu) didn’t go the way the government had to go (things would have collapsed).

 “He is a listening person. I had quality time with him on Christmas day and even my grandson engaged him in discussion and the young boy was very honest with him and told him some of the things that are going on.

“In the history of foreign exchange, do you know that Nigerians are also not helping? The amount of money out of the system even as a grassroots person and as a journalist, even ordinary drivers are changing their little N50 to $20 and $50 at home.

“The confidence that everybody lost before Tinubu came which spilled over into his administration, I said Mr. President, can you do something? The amount of money out of the system is enormous. What can you do to encourage people?.

“I have reasonable confidence that year 2023 is going to be perhaps the worst of the years we have ever had. Starting from that, I strongly believe the year 2024 will be the beginning of the year of the president’s renewed hope.

 “I do agree that things are very tough for everybody, irrespective of status in society. But there is nobody in this country, who is not feeling the pain and the current hardship. That I will admit, that I will not pretend not to know.

 “But I can tell you that the government at the same time is struggling very hard to contain the hardship and reduce the pain.

“There is hardship, there are problems. But we expected it because at the time that President Bola Tinubu assumed office, there was not a single allocation for oil subsidy.

“The previous administration did not allocate a kobo from May 30 for oil subsidy. What else did you expect from Tinubu when he cannot go outside the Act, the law is there.

“Not one kobo allocation. He had no choice but to pronounce the removal of subsidy because he would have breached the law immediately he was sworn in if he continued with the subsidy.

 “But what you can say about him is that he exhibited great courage to have taken such very painful, very hard decisions,” he added.

“We were virtually subsidising the economy of all our neighbouring countries. smuggling was thriving heavily. They didn’t even have room for one kobo for capital expenditure,” he added. He also declined to rate Tinubu publicly.

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