FG Says Nigeria Poor, Needs Necessary Reforms Through OGP To Become Rich

•Nigeria Ranks Least Among Countries In Terms Of Revenue

•Fuel Subsidy For Rich, Not poor

The Federal Government said Nigeria needs reforms in the area of revenue generation to enable it attain the level of wealthy countries,stressing that the nation is currently poor and not Rich as speculated.

The minister of state, budget and national planning, who is also the co-chair state actors of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), Prince Clem Agba said this Tuesday in Abuja during the 12th meeting of the national steering committee (NSC), of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The minister regretted that the nation is performing poorly especially in Revenue component, which has seen the nation as one of the least in terms of revenue to GDP and expenditure to GDP.

“In fact, one of the things we are now introducing into the budget is the most important side of it that has always been overlooked, which is the revenue side.  People just look at the expenditure. In terms of revenue, our performance, relative to the rest of the world is poor, we are number 154 out of 154 in terms of revenue to GDP, which is about 7.2%. But when you look at the expenditure to GDP, it’s around 12.5%. In that instance we have tried because we are number 153 out of 154 only better than Haiti. 

“So, Nigerians need to know what’s going on in their country, they need to know that the country is not a rich nation like we think. If we all agree that the country is not rich, then the reforms that need to be carried out and we expect Nigerians to understand that because”, he said.

The minister regretted that the citizens are complaining about the level of borrowing by the government, yet every sector is asking for subsidies in every aspect of their lives.

“If you talk about borrowing, and you say borrowing is too high and you don’t have revenue, what do you do? Do you sit down and look? You are not getting enough revenue and yet you are asking for subsidies on everything. Last week I saw a group. I think it was real estate and they were asking for a subsidy when we are talking about deregulating the economy.

He further said, “People talk about the exchange rate. When you look at the dollar, it is a commodity. What do you need the dollar for? Do you need the dollar to buy yam? Or to buy rice? Or our bananas? You don’t. so we need to be productive. So we need to understand that when you go for the dollar, it is for buying things that are imported and keeping other people employed, then we will begin to love Nigeria and try to work and eat what we produce just as the president has said”.

Prince Agba question the assertion that fuel subsidy removal has drastic impact on the ordinary man. He said those benefiting from subsidy are the rich and not the poor.

“Some will say if you take out fuel subsidies, the ordinary man will suffer. How will the ordinary man suffer? Is it in terms of food? Vehicles that are used for moving food are heavy duty vehicles. They don’t use PMS, they use AGO which is diesel and that has since been deregulated.

“Those we are subsidizing are the rich. Those who drive the rolls Royce, the Lamborghinis, the 4.0 type of vehicles and not those who are using 1.0 and 1.5 litre vehicles. So these reforms need to be carried out and Nigerians need to understand that we all want to get it right and the only way to get it right is to break out and this is the time to break out”, he said.

Also speaking, Chief Operating Officer NESG and the co-chair, Non-State Actors, Dr Tayo Aduloju said the essence of the  Open Government Partnership (OGP) is to enhance transparency and Accountability in the processes of governance.

Aduloju said, “As you know the open partnership is based on some key national commitment to transparency and accountability, cooperation by state and non-state actors, by government and civil society. So for example, what you call the open budgeting process which has been ongoing now for about four and a half years is continuing. Recently the honourable Minister, my co-chair state actors, called for the public hearing and presentation MTEF and the citizens engagement of the medium term expenditure framework. That is part of the commitment to open budget transparency”.

According to him, “the principle of the OGP is to create more open government by these processes that allows citizens to engage in these key processes of open budgeting, open procurement and contracting, open treasury which we stated now that allows us to see disbursement upon a certain threshold. These processes then allows us to open auditing which is part of the current budgeting participation for citizens and auditing report of the OGP that is ongoing”.

He also said the partnership is also working on several reforms in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest in 2020.

“We added, base on the recommendation of governance and leadership committee, open police reforms as a response to endsars agitations of last year that we are going to hold government accountable in the reform process that is ongoing. We have a commitment of reforms going to the national Assembly”.

I think before the last time we met, the open budgeting framework has allowed us to see what the medium term expenditure framework for Nigeria for the next three years has been the biggest citizens engagement component that has happened so far 

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