I almost quit Aso Rock, says Buhari

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By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said he almost ran away from Aso Rock soon after he was sworn-in as President when the enormity of the country’s economic crisis dawned on him.
Buhari said he became scared when he discovered that the country did not make any investment in infrastructure and other essentials in spite of the huge revenue that accrued to successive governments since 1999.
The President spoke while addressing the Senior Executive Course 38 (2016) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari was reading a prepared address at the event when he suddenly digressed to drop this hint.
He said: “Gentlemen, I have to diegress now.
“For 16 years, there was unprecedented revenue realized. The oil projection which can be verified was 2.1 million barrels per day, 1999-2015. The average cost of each Nigeria’s barrel of oil was $100 per barrel.
“When we came, it fell to less than $30 per barrel and is now between 40 and 50 (dollars). Actually I felt like absconding because 27 out of 36 states in Nigeria cannot pay salaries and we know they have no other source than to depend on salaries.
“And I asked any savings? I was told there was no savings, And I asked, what have you done on agriculture, power, rails, roads.
“Nothing. You know more than I do because you move around. I have not been moving around since after elections but you do. How many of the Trunk A roads are still good enough? How much power do we have, although there are some elements of sabotage”.
Buhari said he was further taken aback when he was told that the huge revenue from oil was spent by successive governments on importation of food and petrol.
He wondered how many Nigerians, apart from the elite class, could afford afford imported food items or even have taste for them that would warrant such expenditure.
“I was told the money was used to import food and fuel. I didn’t believe the answer and I still don’t believe it. Until now substantial number of people in the East eat garri and groundnut; in the West, pounded yam, cassava, vegetables; in the North, tuwo which is made from any of the grains: millet, sorghum. They eat it in the night and warm it in the morning and eat it and take fura da nono in the afternoon. How many of those people can afford foreign food?
“Then they said I should check out the petroleum sector. The legislature dedicated 445,000 barrels per day and that is just 60 per cent of our requirements. I said ok what of the 40 per cent? The marketers that are bringing it just present documents, papers are just stamped and monies are taken away.
“This is the type of things that the Nigerian elites are doing for our own country. When you go back look at your colleagues and encourage them to be truly Nigerians,” Buhari noted.
Returning to his prepared speech, the President said he was glad that Course 38 had been able to deliver on his challenge to them to do a report on the topic “Strengthening Institutional Mechanism for Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Development”
“I have looked forward to receiving this report because it touches on one of the fundamental problems confronting our nation. The Report comes at a time when our economy is experiencing a downturn and all efforts are being made by this administration to get our country moving again,” he said.
Presenting the report earlier, the Acting Director General of NIPSS, Jonathan Juma said a lot could be done by the national institute if more robust budgetary support was extended to it.
“For the Institute to operate as an “apex institution” and be at the forefront of relevant researches for national development, it is required to recruit and retain top level academics, very senior technocrats and other experienced specialized experts.
“At the moment, I must confess to you that the national institute is operating below its conceived capacity due to its inability to attract a full complement of requisite staff who would conduct research across broad strategic areas of national life and also impact new knowledge,” he submitted.

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