Obaseki advises finance minister as CBN admits printing money for loans

Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki on Thursday faulted the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, for denying that the Federal Government printed N60 billion in March to support allocation to states.

The governor, who accused the Federal Government of “monetary rascality’, also tackled the finance minister for “playing the ostrich”.

Obaseki said this while reacting to the denial by Zainab that his claim on FG’s printing of N60bn was “untrue”.

Obaseki tweeted, “While we do not want to join issues with the Federal Ministry of Finance, we believe it is our duty to offer useful advice for the benefit of our country.

“The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, should rally Nigerians to stem the obvious fiscal slide facing our country.

“Rather than play the Ostrich, we urge the government to take urgent steps to end the current monetary rascality, so as to prevent the prevailing economic challenge from degenerating further.

“We believe it is imperative to approach the Nigerian project with all sense of responsibility and commitment and not play to the gallery because ultimately, time shall be the judge of us all.”

Obaseki was last week quoted as raising the alarm over Nigeria’s financial position which he said made the CBN print about N60billion to augment allocation shared by states in March.

“When we got FAAC for March, the Federal Government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share.

“This April, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, our total borrowings are going to be within N15-N16 trillion,” Obaseki had lamented over the weekend.

While answering questions from State House correspondents on Wednesday, the minister had said Obaseki’s claim was not factual.

Ahmed said, “The issue that was raised by the Edo State Governor, for me, is very sad because it is not a fact.

“What we distribute at FAAC is revenue that is generated and in fact, distribution revenue is a piece of public information.

“We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the Customs, and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC.

“So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC. It is not true.”

Speaking at the end of a facility tour of Dangote Sugar plantation in Awe, Nasarawa State, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said the apex bank will ensure the full and timely repayment of all facilities extended to states.

He stated that N614 billion budget support facility was extended to the states between 2016 and 2018 to offset backlog of unpaid salaries and other emoluments due to recession occasioned by crude oil slump.

Again, in July 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a robust intervention package of $2.1 billion to assist handicapped states pay salaries.

Emefiele thus described Obaseki’s position on printing about N60 billion to shore up March subvention by the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) as totally inappropriate.

He said: “If you understand the concept of printing of money, it’s about lending money. That is our job. To print is about lending money. So, there is no need of putting up controversy about printing money as if we go into the factory, print the naira and start distributing on the streets.

“It’s very inappropriate for people to give colouration to printing money as if it’s some foreign words coming from the sky. So, I think it’s important for me to put it this way that in 2016/16, the kind of situation we found ourselves in, which is even worse than 2015/16, we did provide a budget support facility to all the states of this country. That loan is still unpaid up till now.

“We are going to insist on them paying back those monies since they’re accusing us of giving them loans. Most countries in the world today are confronted not only by the challenges coming from the COVID-19 pandemic, but other issues causing economic crisis and the rest of them.

“What I keep saying is that it will be irresponsible for the CBN or any other federal reserve bank to stand idle and refuse to support its government at this time. And what we are doing here is being done in any clime.

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