“When people say that this administration has impoverished them; I think they are not being charitable. Because I have said that we inherited a governmental structure at state and federal levels built around the assumption that price of oil will remain at $100 per barrel. By the time we took over, prices dipped to as low as $26 per barrel,” he said.
“Now when 80 per cent of government revenues depend on the price of oil and the quantity of oil you sell (reduces) you must expect a cut in your consumption if the price collapses. If in your own household your salary is slashed 80 per cent, what do you do? There is painful adjustment in the funding.
“You have to seek your family and explain to them that this is what is happening, your salary has been slashed 80 per cent so rice is off the table and it is now `garri’ and so on. This is what Nigeria is going through. Essentially, our revenues have collapsed about 40 per cent to 60 per cent if you compare it with , say, 2014. This collapse happened because the price of oil has moved from a high of $140 a barrel around 2013 to a low of $26 per barrel in February 2016.
The governor blames the situation on the resurgence of militancy in the Niger State.
“Secondly, we were producing over two million barrels of oil per day because of vandalism in the Delta, production went to as low as 1.1 million barrels per day.”
The governor noted that the production was back a bit to 1.8 million barrels per day but noted that when the production was little so very little money was coming in to the government, therefore it was inevitable that there would be cuts and pain.
Continuing, the governor said that when he left office as minister of the Federal Capital Territory in 2007, Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration handed over $40 billion in reserve and $27 billion in Excess Crude Account.
“That is what we handed over to late Yar’adua. Coming back as Gov. of Kaduna there is only $2.1 bn in excess crude account and when we left office the price of oil was $75 per barrel.”
El-Rufai alleged that subsequent administration squandered $300 billion savings, borrowed over $60 billion in the period and spent all.
“Coming back as governor of Kaduna there is only $2.1bn in excess crude account and when we left office the price of oil was $75 per barrel. It is up to President Buhari to clear that mess,” he added.The governor said the country was paying the price of mismanagement of the past, therefore unfair that the critics were not referring to the causes of the present predicaments. Defending Buhari’s economic team, he said unlike Obasanjo’s economic team, Buhari’s team was headed Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
“What you need at the policy level is basic understanding, management skills and leadership. The VP is exposed, educated and enlightened enough to say yes or no if given many policy options. The technical people are there to give you the technical input and the VP was the one selected and he has to make that policy decision.
“You cannot have an unelected economist deciding policy for the country because there has to be accountability. But there is nowhere in the world where heading the economic team is economist because the technical people are there to give you the technical input,” he added.