Tuesday, August 9, 2022

From $2.1 billion left by Jonathan, Buhari depletes excess crude account to $35 million

The paltry status of the ECA has again raised concerns about Mr Buhari’s incompetence to utilise the nation’s resources judiciously.

• January 22, 2022

The Muhammadu Buhari regime has steeply depleted Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) to $35.8 million from over $2 billion left by former president Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

Clem Agba, minister of state for budget and national planning, made this known at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja.

“Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) Balance As At 17th January 2022 stands At $35,868,086.40, Stabilization Account Balance As Of 17th January 2022 Stands At N30, 685, 611, 413.79, Development Of Natural Resources Account balance As At 17th January 2022 Stands At N42, 820,382,381.40,” Mr Agba disclosed. 

The ECA balance which stood at $60 million in October 2021, has been depleted further to $35million, plunging the nation’s economy into regress.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo conceived the ECA in 2004 to document the nation’s excess revenue from crude oil. Before Mr Buhari’s assumption of office, the account balance stood at $3.6 billion in February 2014, one of the highest balances on record.

The paltry status of the ECA has again raised criticisms about Mr Buhari’s incompetence to utilise the nation’s resources judiciously. His regime so far has been characterised by heavy borrowing, looting, insecurity, inflation, heavy hike in food prices and overall unrest.

The Economist in 2021 described Buhari as an inept leader whose fiscal policies had regressed the nation’s economy and whose fight against terrorism ends on the lips.

“Mr Buhari, who was elected in 2015, turned an oil shock into a recession by propping up the naira and barring many imports in the hope this would spur domestic production. Instead he sent annual food inflation soaring above 20%, ” wrote the London-based publication.

In addition to depleting ECA, the Buhari regime has become notorious for borrowing heavily from countries like China, France, Japan, India and Germany. As at June 2021, Nigeria was owing a staggering sum of $4.26 billion to these five countries.

In October 2021, finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, expressed her discomfort that the nation exceeded her borrowing threshold.

 “We are very uncomfortable at the fact that we have borrowed at the quantum exceeding the threshold that is outlined by the Fiscal Responsibility Act,” said Mrs Ahmed at the 27th National Economic Summit in Abuja.

In 2015, the then minister of finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed that the country earned $61.7 billion (about N12.3 trillion) as excess crude oil money between 2011 and 2015.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala who is now the President of World Trade Organisation (WTO) said Nigeria earned about $18.14 billion in 2011; $18.16 billion in 2012; $15.19 billion in 2013; $8.01 billion in 2014, and $2.17 billion in 2015.

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