ECONOMIC WOES, INSECURITY President, governors meet today in Abuja

Governors jittery about economy, 2023 general elections

Troubled about the bad state of the economy, the 36 state governors are scheduled to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari today at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

This was disclosed in a press release in Abuja on Tuesday by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the Director, Media and Public Affairs, Nigeria Governors’ Forum.

According to the statement, the economic failure that Nigerians have been complaining about and the hardship associated with it have prompted several governors to tell each other the basic truth and brainstorm about solutions.

This formed the basis for resorting to an in-person meeting which since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been relegated by the states’ executives.

According to Bello-Barkindo, two things will feature prominently in the conversation: the economy and security.

He disclosed that the meeting will be the first time in the year — contrary to media reports that Governors had collectively advised the President on the weeding of 50-year-olds from the federal civil service and other spurious suggestions meant to impose further hardship on the people — that governors will collectively meet to consider a total overhaul of the nation’s economy.

The meeting which will commence at 2 pm will begin with the launch of the Primary Health Care Leadership Challenge Fund, followed by the launch of the World Bank SFTAS charter before the real conversation on the state of the economy begins according to the invitation issued by the Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Asishana Bayo Okauru.

Recently, the Nigerian governors had reportedly advised President Muhammadu Buhari to take some urgent steps as part of coordinated efforts to instill fiscal discipline and prevent the nation from economic collapse.

The governors had reportedly advised the Federal Government to offer federal civil servants who are older than 50 years a one-off retirement package to exit the service.

They had equally urged the Federal Government to immediately put an end to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s financing of the government’s budgetary expenditures and convert its N19 trillion debt into a 100-year bond.

The governors were said to be concerned about the deteriorating state of the economy and the ripple effect on the nation ahead of the 2023 general elections.

An analysis of Nigeria’s external reserves revealed that the figures amount to only $15 billion, well below the $36 billion balance on the gross external reserves claimed by the CBN.

With Nigeria spending N5.9 trillion on imports in the first quarter of the year, reserves of $15 billion would barely cover four months of imports.

Details equally emerged lately that the balance in Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account had depleted significantly from $35.37 million to $376,655, leaving the nation with no buffers to stabilize the economy and its currency.

Yet another indication emerged that the nation was broke as debt service surpassed revenue.

According to details of the 2022 fiscal performance report for January through April, Nigeria’s total revenue stood at N1.63 trillion while debt servicing stood at N1.94 trillion, showing a variance of over N300 billion.

While global food prices dipped for the fourth consecutive month in July 2022, food inflation has continued to accelerate in Africa’s biggest economy for the fifth straight month.

The July inflation report published by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that food inflation rose by 22.02 percent in July, month-on-month, up 2.04 percent from 20.6 percent in June, the highest in 14 months. It also rose by 0.99 percent compared to the rate recorded in July 2021 (21.03 percent).