18 April 2016, Lagos – The Emir of Kano and the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Muhammadu Sanusi II, on Sunday described the country’s failure to save oil revenue when the price of the commodity was high as an “act against clear injunction.”
This came barely a week after the immediate past Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, reportedly said that lack of political will to save under President Goodluck Jonathan owing to state governors’ resistance to it led to the current economic challenges facing the country.
Sanusi also likened the appointment of incompetent people into key public offices as the worst form of corruption.
He spoke at the 30th anniversary of the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni in Lagos.
Sanusi said, “On fiscal responsibility…when you look at where we are today and look at all the waste and the looting and the lack of savings that has happened in this country when oil prices were high, everybody talks about excess crude and new theories of fiscal policy.
“These are not new. We blow up our oil revenues, no savings; and we have nothing when oil prices fell to $40 per barrel. You don’t need any kind of economic theory. Any government that does not know that in times of plenty, it should save for the next generation is simply acting against what is a clear injunction.”
The former CBN governor, who was the chairman of the occasion, said there was the need to speak on the issue of corruption not just in terms of morality, but also as an intellectual subject and its real impact on the economy.
According to him, those who stole Nigeria’s money and invested in the country, and those who took it abroad could both be described as corrupt people.
He said, “But where does corruption begins? Does it begin with the person who is stealing or somewhere else? Corruption begins when you appoint a person to a position he is not qualified to handle. The scholars are united that if you appoint someone to a public office, the first consideration is that the person must be capable of handling the responsibility you have given him because his incompetence comes back to hurt the people. I’m not one of those opposed to federal character.
“The problem with our country very often is that people are entrusted with responsibilities they are not capable of handling. And that is the worst form of corruption. It doesn’t matter if they are honest people. Ideally, we should have very good and religious people who are also competent. It’s good to look for honest people but they should be first of all competent.
“We should look for competent, honest and religious people. But if you can’t find and you have to choose between an honest religious man who is not competent and someone who is less honest and less religious, but who is competent, take competent one.
“When you are consulting on economy, you consult people who understand the economy. And we spend too much time looking where these ministers come from; whether he a nice and religious man and too little time at capacity to deliver service to the people. And honestly, this is where everything begins. We have to change the way we look at public office and merit in this country.”
The former CBN governor also spoke on the need to focus agriculture, urbanisation and infrastructure.
He added, “If you go to America, and you travel from New York to Atlanta, after every few hours, you have towns, you can stop and refuel, enter hotel or enter the bathroom. There is infrastructure in place. And when a nation ignores agriculture, urbanisation and infrastructure, it simply cannot progress and it is the greatest punishment in this world at least.
“What do we have today? Our industries have become ghost towns, our roads have become death beds, our farmlands produce nothing.”
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who was represented by a former Commissioner for Works in Lagos State, Mr. Obafemi Hamzat, said the solution for any sustainable economy lied with the people.
He said there was the need to focus on infrastructure to reduce poverty and stimulate sustainable economic growth.