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President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday revealed how he almost relinquished power shortly after assuming duties, when he realised the quantum of decay in the country’s economy and the mismanagement of resources by past governments. The president insisted that Nigeria, from 1999 to 2015, recorded revenue inflow from sale of crude oil, but failed to utilise such funds for the development of critical infrastructure that would have improved the lives of citizens.

Receiving the report of the Senior Executive Course 38 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies at the presidential villa, Abuja, Buhari explained that “actually I felt like absconding, because 27 out of 36 states in Nigeria cannot pay salaries and we know they have no other source than to depend on salaries.” “For 16 years and eight consecutive governments of the other party, you know that there was unprecedented revenue realised, the oil projection which can be verified was 2.1 million barrels per day, 1999-2015,” he stressed.

The president explained that the average cost of each Nigerian crude oil was $100 per barrel within those years, but fell to less than $30 per barrel and was selling between $40 and $50 presently. He said the country’s economy, under his leadership in the last one year, has been experiencing tough times as a result of the decline in oil revenues. According to the president, the situation has created some harsh impacts on Nigerians at the grassroots. “It is also important to note that the economic recession is not the making of this administration, but rather a consequence of bad management of the economy in the last decades.

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Recession is not limited to Nigeria – there are far, far worse cases than Nigeria,” he noted. Buhari told participants of the Senior Executive programme that worried by the condition of poor revenues when he came into power, he asked where were the savings from crude oil sales, but did not get a concrete answer from government officials. “And I asked any savings? I was told there was no savings. And I asked what have you done on agriculture, power, rails, and roads? Nothing. You know more than I do because you move around.

“I have not been moving around since after elections, but you do. How many of the Trunk A roads are still good enough? How many power do we have although there are some elements of sabotage?” Buhari said. He continued that: “I was told the money was used to import food and fuel. I didn’t believe the answer and I still don’t believe it. Until now, substantial number of people in the East eat garri and groundnut; in the West, pounded yam, cassava, vegetables; in the north, Tuwo which is made from any of the grains, millet, sorghum.

“They eat it at night and warm it in the morning and take fura da nono in the afternoon. How many of those people can afford foreign food? “Then they said I should check out the petroleum sector. The legislature dedicated 445,000 barrels per day and that is just 60 per cent of our requirements. I said ok what of the 40 per cent?

“The marketers that are bringing it just present documents, papers are just stamped and monies are taken away. This is the type of thing that the Nigerian elite is doing for our own country. When you go back, talk to your colleagues and encourage them to be truly Nigerians,” he added.

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The president commended the leadership of NIPPS and expressed satisfaction that their report was coming when the country needs such advice to strategise and recover for economic recession. Acting Director General of the NIPSS, Jonathan Juma, while presenting the report of the Course 38, said the institution would do better if more robust budgetary support were extended to it.

He said for the Institute to operate as an “apex institution” and be at the forefront of relevant researches for national development, it is required to recruit and retain toplevel academics, very senior technocrats and other experienced specialised experts. NIPSS, he noted, was operating below its conceived capacity due to its inability to attract a full complement of requisite staff who would conduct research across broad strategic areas of national life and also impact new

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