Hardship: We’re Dealing With Poverty in Nigeria, Not Food Scarcity — Obanikoro

Former Nigerian lawmaker and former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, has said the problem facing Nigerians is not food scarcity, but the issue of poverty and lack of purchasing power.

Obanikoro stated this in an interview with Arise Television on Thursday.

The former minister faulted Nigerians and banks over the Nigerian economy, saying the economy was overwhelmingly dollarized.

On the state of the nation, Obanikoro said, “All these issues that you’ve spoken about are interwoven, they are all related. Be it security issues with the food. But on the issue, there is scarcity of food in the country now. What we are dealing with is the capacity to purchase. We are dealing with poverty.

“On the issue of scarcity of fund, it seems either deliberately or otherwise, and stupidly too, we have dollarized our economy,” he said as he alleged that it was Nigerians that caused the economy to be dollarized.

“I cannot but recall, 1997, thereabout, when we had issues with foreign exchange, the military government of that era, were arresting people and bankers to sanitize the foreign exchange regime at that time, I can also recall during the Shagari era, we had the same, almost similar problem that we are facing now.

“Now. Who is the common denominator in all this? The banks. So, you are always quick to say politicians. No politician can siphon money without the connivance of the banks.

“I am telling you they are more culpable than any other sector of our country. They are, and that’s a fact. And there is enough evidence to go around.

“The most important aspect is that we should not unduly cast aspersions on people for a situation that we, as a people, saw coming”, Obanikoro said.

The former lawmaker, however, said President Bola Tinubu was working to resolve these issues, adding that the president “has a great understanding of our pains, where we need to go, and where we are coming from. But this is a very delicate country to rule.”

Obanikoro added: “He may not have the exact amount of Naira and Kobo in the coffers, but before he became president, he knew exactly what the issues are and what are the solutions that we should try to implement to get out of it.

“But what I think the government needs to do more, communication is very important. I think Nigerians need to know where the government is coming from and where the government is going.

“You see, with deep understanding of policies that government intends to implement, I feel quite a number, sincere Nigerians will be patient enough to see what he can do within the next one to two years.”

He further said, “When you inherit a ways and means of twenty-three trillion, and you inherit subsidy of almost two, three trillion. and you are borrowing money to pay salary, that is what he inherited.

“And he has said himself that he wants to hone the liability and the asset, but then, we must show understanding and just go along with him to see whether he has the capacity. to deliver or not.”

On the need to reduce the cost of governance, Obanikoro said, “I totally agree that something should be done in that regard, and I can tell you for free that if Asiwaju is the Asiwaju that I know, he is looking at ways, always. Don’t forget, he is an auditor by background. He’s looking at ways to reduce cost of governance.”