Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, Abdulaziz Yari, has predicted a gloomy turn for Nigeria’s economy by the middle of 2020.
He said there were clear indications that the country would experience another recession in the middle of next year and therefore advised newly-elected and returning governors to be prepared.
Yari, who dropped his prediction at the opening ceremony of an induction of new and returning governors, organised by the NGF Secretariat on Monday in Abuja, further said that the recession would last till the third quarter of 2021.
He stressed the need for the governors to work together as members of the National Economic Council to boost the economy.
He decried states’ over dependence on the federal government and advised his fellow governors to evolve ways of increasing their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, to enable them to execute more projects.
Yari said: “On our part, we made a lot of achievements in infrastructural development and provision of social services because we enjoyed a relatively high oil price of about $100 to $114 per barrel between 2001 and the middle of 2014.
“However, by the mid-2014, the price of crude oil, which is sadly the main driving force of government’s expenditure, dropped to $75 per barrel. It, therefore, became very difficult for many states to even pay the salaries of their workers.
“This scenario is a wake-up call for all of you to come amply prepared to face these kinds of challenges especially since we are expecting the possibility of another cycle of recession by mid-2020 and which may last up to a third quarter of 2021. Your good spirit of stewardship will make you contain the situation should there be one.
“Also, as members of the National Economic Council, you must work hand in hand to boost the economy in tandem with the global best practices.
“Experience, they say, is the best teacher. Ours has been a challenging experience of managing state economies that are totally dependent on accruals from the federation account rather than exploring viable alternatives to run the economy.
“For most of the states, internally generated revenues are nothing to write home about. You must, therefore, look inward by boosting your revenue generation base and also utilize them effectively for the execution of projects that would touch the lives of your people.
“You must not forget the high expectations of our people on us; now that the democracy is maturing day in day out the challenges of governance and service delivery are more demanding.”
Gov. Yari commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the federal government’s interventions that saved the states from economic challenges pointing out that at a point 27 states had difficulty paying their workers’ monthly salaries and developing infrastructure among others.
He also commended the FG’s focus on agriculture, including Anchor Borrowers’ Programme through which about N200 billion had been spent even as he said the amount was insufficient for Nigeria to effectively deal with the issue of insecurity in the country.
Yari argued that Nigeria needed to go to the next level by imposing high import tariff on some other agricultural products like maize and wheat so as to boost their production and provide raw materials for local industries.
“From records, government spends about N2 billion on oil development yearly. I believe if one third of the amount was dedicated to agriculture and mining, the state of the economy would have been different by now,’’ he said.
Furthermore, he pointed out that revenue agencies must be made to work more effectively especially given that the National Minimum Wage had been increased N30, 000 per month.
Lamenting Nigerians’ negative attitude to payment of taxes in full, the NGF Chairman stressed that individual and collective contributions in ensuring prompt payment of taxes would help the government to achieve all its objectives.
He said that the forum organised the induction programme to support the new governors in developing necessary skills for modern day governance that would re-position them for their post campaign responsibilities.