Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief when Jonathan conceded defeat and paved the way for Buhari to be sworn in as Nigeria’s president.
Jonathan was called several names, the economist recently described him as an ineffectual buffoon but Nigerians’ favourite was “clueless”.
Nigerians (rightfully) called Jonathan clueless but it doesn’t appear like Buhari is any better with his fixation on fighting corruption.
What is the point of having a corrupt free but severely impoverished country?
If Buhari spent less energy fighting corruption and more on harnessing Nigeria’s vast human resources potentials, he will surely get a second term in office.
China is the world’s second largest economy today and this is attributed largely to the vast amount of human resources at her disposal.
The United Kingdom with a population of around 65 million earns over £500b (five hundred billion Pounds) from various forms of taxation. (At the exchange rate of N400 to a Pound that is about Two hundred Trillion Naira.) Nigeria, with a population of over 150 million can only budget a paltry six Trillion Naira with half of that amount to be borrowed!
Last year 2015, Nigerians in Diaspora sent back home a total of $24 billion. That is almost 80% of Nigeria’s 2016 budget, which means Nigerians in Diaspora sent home more money than the Federal Government earned from oil. Nigerians in Diaspora are less than ten percent of the country’s population.
Nigeria is a country where oil accounts for a whooping seventy percent of government revenue, almost half of our foreign exchange earnings but only 10 per cent of our GDP.
This anomaly is caused by government’s unhealthy over reliance on oil as a source of revenue. A situation that started during the wasteful 1970s.
The world’s insatiable appetite for crude oil ensured that demand and price remained high for decades until recently.
Successive governments (most of them headed by megalomaniac, corrupt despots in military uniform) saw the export of Oil and Gas as an easy way of earning money half of which ended up in private accounts. The real reason successive governments relied heavily upon oil is simple, corruption.
With oil as the main revenue earner, the concept of “National Cake” was firmly entrenched in the Nigerian psyche. Oil is freely given, it belongs to no one (Niger-Delta indigenes may disagree with that but that’s an argument for another day) so whoever gets his hands on oil money can do with it as he pleases.
The concept of tax-payer’s money does not exist in Nigeria. People who say the discovery of oil in Nigeria was a curse and not a blessing to Nigerians know exactly what they are talking about. If tax constituted a lion share of government revenue in Nigeria and tax-payers monitored how their money is being spent corruption might not be so rampart in Nigeria.
The oil market crash has dealt a crushing blow on the Nigerian economy when it really shouldn’t have if past governments had tapped into Nigeria’s abundant resources, the most valuable being our human resources.
Nigeria’s tax-to-GDP ratio is only 7%. This is way too low for a country that prides itself as the largest economy in Africa. According to the Economist, every percentage point increase could add $5 billion extra cash for the country.
Every Nigerian government since independence, the present government inclusive, has been a liability to the Nigerian people, stalling progress in the country rather than promoting it.
If the present government wants to be taken seriously it should concentrate more on creating jobs with a view to earning more tax revenue and that’s just a start.