Former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on Thursday supported the Federal Government’s removal of fuel subsidy, stressing that it was in the nation’s interest.
Mr Sanusi, who was also a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, gave the support at ‘The PlatformNG60’ organised by Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos, anchored by Pastor Poju Oyemade.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Platform is non-profit initiative by Covenant Christian Centre, which is aimed at empowering Nigerians with insights and skills needed for economic transformation and ensuring good governance.
Mr Sanusi also said that the reforms by the current government would give positive results if well implemented.
He said that the removal was long overdue considering the current economic realities.
“As a result of COVID-19, Nigeria has finally come round to been realistic; we were paying billions of dollars as subsidy.
“It’s been going on for 20/30 years and we complained about the economic situation we were in today, but there is nothing that surprises me.
“If we are honest ourselves and anyone who studied economies could see that this subsidy we needed to end it.
“It’s something we could have stopped as far back as 10 years ago not just with this government, but with the previous governments,” Mr Sanusi said.
He said that the Federal Government had commenced implementation of some reforms that needed to be continued to achieve growth and development.
“In the last few months, this government has started implementing certain reforms that if we continue along those lines, we will begin to see the light.
“Removal of fuel subsidy is one, the adjustment in electricity tariff is another.
“But fundamentally, look at NNPC, this government has for the first time in more than a decade published audited accounts of NNPC for 2018.
“We may not like what we see in terms of the spending right now inside NNPC, but at least let us have some kind of visibility of what happens there,” he added.
The former Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, governor also said that increased transparency in the oil sector and increased transparency in the energy sector should be maintained.
“These are reforms that need to be pushed, we need to understand that the government does not have the balance sheet to continue with the father Christmas situation that we had over the last decade or so.
“I wish we have done this earlier but we are here now and this is being done and we need to commend it,” Mr Sanusi said.
He also commended the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, for her bold reforms to keep the country from going totally bankruptcy.
He said that Ahmed “has been trying to manage finances of the government in an extreme situation.”
Speaking on the way forward, Mr Sanusi called for economic diversification and human capital development.
He said that Nigeria needed to focus on human capital, stressing “its human beings that build countries.
“All we need to do is to continue to eliminate avenues for rent seeking.
“When people understand that the way to make money is to produce real goods and services, build up Small and Medium Enterprises, build up manufacturing companies, they will provide the needed services.”
Also speaking at the forum, Minister of Works and Housing, Babajide Fashola, said that the country’s infrastructure deficit was due to under investments.
Mr Fashola said government was committed at expanding infrastructure in spite of the drop in oil revenue, noting that 671 road and bridge construction were on going in the country.
He urged Nigerians to participate in the economic development of the country by ensuring payment of taxes, stressing that government alone could not do the job.
Mr Fashola explained that things required to fix the country had to do with leadership, adding that one could lead without title.
“There are many duties that we owe ourselves and the country and this is captioned in section 24 of the Constitution and we should adopt them.
“At 60, Nigeria is still relatively young in the comity of nations,” Mr Fashola said.