There are indications that the transition committee set up by the All Progressives Congress may have decided to work out some tough economic prescriptions for the incoming federal government based on its own independent assessment of the economy amid alleged failure of the incumbent administration’s transition team to share ideas or records, THISDAY has learnt.
The APC transition committee is supposed to interface with the incumbent government’s committee to ensure a smooth changeover from the Peoples Democratic Party government of President Goodluck Jonathan to the APC government of General Muhammadu Buhari. But barely three weeks to the handover date of May 29, APC has alleged that the federal government transition committee is yet to meet or transmit documents to the incoming government’s team. This was said to have prompted the APC transition team to engage experts to study the economic environment and come up with findings that would guide the committee’s recommendations to the Buhari government.
In a related development, the APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said yesterday in Yola that the Nigerian economy was on the edge of a precipice and seriously needed financial experts to help fix it and prevent a looming economic collapse. Odigie-Oyegun said this at the seventh graduation ceremony of the American University of Nigeria, Yola.
A reliable source within APC disclosed that based on its preliminary assessment, the 19-man transition panel may consider recommending tough economic measures in a bid to arrest the slide in the economy. The source, who preferred that his name was not mentioned because he was not mandated to discuss the issue, said the committee believed some austere measures might be needed to help the incoming government to keep the country afloat.
The actions being canvassed by the committee include cost-saving measures, like pruning down the size of government and devising means of mopping up resources for the government. Also on the cards is a plan to abolish fuel subsidy, which many see as fraught with corruption.
The source, who is a top chieftain of APC, said an initial assessment of the economic situation showed that things might be worse than what was being portrayed by government.
He said, “I can tell Nigerians that we all in APC will put our heads together to support the captain of the ship, General Muhammadu Buhari, to salvage the nation. It is going to be tough, it is going to be very, very tough, indeed, and we are going to make that clear to Nigerians very soon.
“In the months ahead, we have to borrow money to subsidise the distributable resources going to the states. At present, states are getting about 40 per cent less than what they used to receive from the Federation Account.
“So, you are going to be hearing tales soon of the inability of states to pay workers’ salaries. It is so bad that we are now borrowing to subsidise our recurrent expenditure. We are not even talking about the capital projects. That is the extent to which the economy of the country has been run aground.”
He said the new government’s information minister would face an uphill task of trying to make Nigerians understand the reality of the things on ground and accept corrective measures that will be put in place by the incoming Buhari administration.
“The important thing is that there is hope that the ship of state will be turned around in the nearest future and Nigerians will begin to enjoy the benefit of change and the benefit of a regime whose ultimate concern and focus is the happiness of the people of Nigeria,” the source said.
Members of the APC transition committee have literally taken over a section of the Trancorp Hilton Hotels in Abuja where they have been provided with accommodation and meeting rooms following their inauguration on April 29. The team is chaired Alhaji Ahmed Joda, with Dr. Doyin Salami as vice president and Malam Adamu Adamu as secretary. The committee was getting worried by the delay in convening joint meetings with the federal government transition committee and, thus, decided to independently study the issues with the aid of experts.
The Jonathan government’s transition committee, headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo, was inaugurated on April 13.
The APC transition committee has since its inauguration met almost on a daily basis, with the exception of Sundays.
The national publicity secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while responding to an enquiry from THISDAY confirmed that the transition committee had started meeting while waiting for the federal government to furnish it with formal handover documents. He said the committee had invited experts, resource persons, and non-governmental organisations to come and brief it on issues affecting various sectors of the economy.
Mohammed said, “I do not know about hiring of consultants, but what I can tell you is that the committee has invited some resource persons and non-governmental organisations, like the civil society bodies, to come and brief it on crucial issues of governance.
“We in the committee felt that we could go ahead with other aspects of our terms of reference, since the PDP-led federal government has decided not to meet with us and is delaying the commencement of the handover process.
“Part of the terms of reference of the transition committee is that it should brainstorm and make adequate recommendations on strategies the incoming government could adopt in order to move the nation forward.”
The committee’s members include Wale Edun, Mrs. Bola Adesola, Dr. Festus Odumegu, Mrs. Nike Aboderin, Chief John Oyegun, Rotimi Amaechi, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and Boss Mustapha. Others are Senator Hadi Sirika, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, Alhaji Abubakar Malami, General Lawal Jafar Isa, Mohammed Hayatudeen, Solomon Dalong, and Professor Tam David West.
As part of its terms of reference, the committee is expected to develop a clear framework for liaison with the outgoing administration for purposes of a smooth handover/takeover and to receive handover documents from ministries, departments and agencies and itemise the most important or most urgent issues confronting the incoming government.
The committee is also to review and assess the balance sheet of government with particular emphasis on the status of assets and liabilities of government; cash flow position of the government; quantum of public domestic and external debt of government and their deployment; government’s outstanding contractual obligations and its ability to meet such obligations and the status of implementation of capital projects.
They are expected to do a preliminary assessment of the security challenges facing the country and the counter-insurgency measures taken by the government thus far; the counter policy measures being implemented in the Niger Delta to deal with unrest and major economic crimes in the area, in particular, the status of the Amnesty Programme; the readiness of the Police and other national security and intelligence agencies in addressing threats to law and order; and provide a brief overview of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigerian Communications Commission, Customs, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
Other items in the committee’s terms of reference include to suggest “quick fixes” which will result in tangible, visible and practical measures so that change will be seen after 30 days, after 100 days, after six months of the administration taking office, and to make any other observations which in the opinion of the committee would be helpful to the transition and take-off of the new administration.
SOURCE: THIS DAY