Former Edo state governor Adams Oshiomhole and ex-Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor have publicly disagreed over how the Nigerian economy is being managed.
The Punch reports that the ‘fight’ occurred at Vanguard’s Economic Discourse in Lagos on Friday, March 10 after Prof. Charles Soludo delivered a keynote address titled ‘The hard facts to rescue the Nigerian economy’, highlighting some of the failures of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, particularly in terms of fiscal and monetary policies.
But during the panel session, the minister of solid minerals development Dr. Kayode Fayemi defended the government and Oshiomhole accused Soludo of wrongly allocating millions of dollars to two new generation banks shortly before the naira was devalued.
He said: “I got some intelligence from my comrades who worked in the system and we found out that the CBN under Soludo had just allocated couple of millions of dollars to two, as they were then known, new generation banks.
“And I asked Prof (Soludo), if you were going to devalue by Friday, why did you auction dollar at a lower rate on Thursday? I accused Soludo, I said you have enriched these two young men to the tune of N8bn, courtesy of your internal abuse.
“When the regulator behaved in this manner, then the Nigerian condition is much more serious than we can appreciate it. We need to deal with issues of attitude.” Soludo fired back to the amazement of the audience, saying some people tend to change the subject when they did not have an answer.
“This debate has only begun. Adams made the point about exchange rate and exchange allocation to two banks. I want to say for the record that Adams Oshiomhole has lied. I didn’t say he misquoted anything; he has lied,” Soludo said.
He added: “Every bid produced a different exchange rate and there were different winners at every bid. We didn’t do devaluation as the case may be; we had the currency depreciating as the market determined day to day. With all due respect, I think if you (Oshiomole) don’t know what to say, sir, just don’t get into this kind of personal allegation.
“Whose plan is it? Ownership will determine whether the plan is just a public relations document or whether it will be implemented. To what extent is the plan consistent with the APC manifesto, which promised a conscious plan for post-oil economy and to restructure the country and devolve power to units with the best practices of federalism? Is this plan that plan?”
He continued: “The plan envisages to continue the practice of the past government of borrowing to finance recurrent expenditure. Up until 2018, recurrent expenditure will continue to exceed total revenue. The deficit will continue to exceed capital budget, meaning that capital expenditure will continue to be borrowed, as done by the last government. So, what has changed?” he queried.
“The plan as packaged is a good effort, but in terms of our expectations as a plan for transition to a post-oil economy as promised by the APC, it is a missed opportunity.
“I am willing to bet that not much will happen in terms of the structure of the economy or the structure of fiscal and export revenue at the end of the plan.”
Soludo has been a top critic of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s economic policies which he says are too simple to save the country from the present recession it is in.