THE ECONOMY: THOUGHTS ON SANUSI'S MIND (1)
The Oxford contemporary dictionary defines economics as the study of how a society organizes its money, trade, and industry; the way in which money influences, or is organized within an area of business. Sanusinomics can therefore be expressed as economic principles as being promulgated by Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria. The recent unwarranted controversies that trailed the suggestion made by Mallam Sanusi on how to reduce our recurrent expenditure was caused by misconception of the message which he intended to promulgate.
According to the 2013 budget as passed by the National Assembly, out of the N4.9 trillion budgeted, Federal government plans to spend N2.3 trillion-recurrent expenditure, N1.6 trillion -capital expenditure, and N559 billion for debt servicing (foreign and domestic). The questions Mallam Lamido Sanusi was asking were: could we continue to spend a whopping sum of N2.3 trillion to finance the recurrent expenditure?
The present federal structure as constituted, made of 36 states plus the FCT, 774 LGAs, 42 ministers, 469 National Assembly members, 541 MDAs, 20 special advisers for the presidency alone, is it sustainable? Do we really need this size of civil service? How many of the states are viable? Is it proper to continue to borrow money to augment for budget deficits; at the same time spend a huge amount of N559 billion annually for debt servicing; both foreign and domestic? These are some of the though-provoking questions longing and yeaning for answers, which Mallam Sanusi was trying to proffer solutions to.
I could recall vividly when the National Assembly members declared Mallam Sanusi persona nongrata and started gunning for his head when he made that mind-boggling revelation that they were consuming 25% of the budget which we borrow money to finance its deficits, while the least paid worker in the country earns just 0.13% (N18,000) of a Senator's salary. Such a worker will need to work for at least 777 years to earn a Senator's N182 million annual pay; it will only take a Methusela of our time to live up to such number of years!
There are 54 committees in the Senate and 89 in the House of Reps, most of which are standing committees, well funded with tax payers money duplicating functions at the expense of our economy! In the 2013 budget, the Presidency budgeted a whopping sum of N1.3 billion to service the feeding of the office of the President and his vice, I wonder whether the President and his vice are being fed with roasted gold and fried diamond to deserve this huge amount which is enough to revive some of the decayed infrastructure.
The official residence of the Vice President is still enmeshed in a controversy because of the record – breaking amount of N16 billion budgeted for the construction of a building for one single individual! Even if the construction materials would be imported from the Moon and the engineers hired from Jupiter; it is mind-boggling! The funds that would be enough to erect 650 units of low-costing housing estate will be used to provide shelter for just one person in a country that has more than 18 million housing deficits!
What Mallam Sanusi was asking were: do we need a minister from every state of the federation? Should we continue to progress in error by running a federation of 36 states plus FCT and 774 unviable LGAs? Could we as a nation continue to spend the huge amount of N3.1 billion annually to service the entitlements of former Presidents/Heads of State and Vice-Presidents/Chiefs of General Staff? Are we practicing federal character at the expense of the growth of the economy?
Milton Friedman said: 'A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.'' Federal, states, and local governments shared N6.16 trillion in 2012 alone, but what are on ground now in terms of projects can not quantify the monies claimed to have been spent because of corruption and misplacement of priorities! Nigeria's huge domestic debt stood at N6.3 trillion at the end of 2012 financial year, most of the debts were procured by state governments to finance their budget deficits.
Majority of governors of these states spend as much as N750 million security votes which they neither provide. The way they scramble for foreign loans has prompted the Central Bank of Nigeria to express concern over the country's rising external debt stock, saying there was need for caution to ensure it does not constrain financing of key infrastructure programme in 2013.
Nigeria is currently indebted to China to the tune of $6.2 billion, all the loans obtained from Chinese government through Exim Bank are tied to projects, but the concern of some experts is the quality of some of the projects as well as the Chinese reputation for corruption. Some of the projects such as the Rural Telephony project have been ill-conceived, enmeshed in controversy and have had no impact on the Nigerian citizens.