Akinyemi Blames Nigerian Recession on ‘Faulty’ 1999 Constitution
LAGOS OCTOBER 4TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Bolaji Akinyemi, former minister of external affairs, says an “unforgivable oversight” in the constitution is the reason Nigeria does not have the funds to fall back on in such a critical period.
In a speech he delivered on Independence Day, the erudite scholar blamed the federal government for its poor saving culture.
He said rather than blame past administrations, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari should working towards correcting the defects.
Responding to the harsh criticisms directed at past leaders, Akinyemi said: “Those of them who have refused to retire into graceful silence deserve the return brickbats they get.
“It is thoroughly misleading to isolate and demonise past regimes for the situation where Nigeria has no savings.
“The fault is in the 1999 constitution (section 162) which makes it mandatory for all monies collected by the federal government with a few exceptions to be deposited into a central account and to be distributed among the federal, state and local governments. No provision was made for savings. This, with considerable charity, can only be called an unforgivable oversight.
“If we have to lay blame, it should be at the door of those responsible for the 1999 constitution. This does not mean General Abubakar Abdulsalam alone, or the military regime alone, but includes elements of the judiciary and civilians who were all instrumental in midwifing that constitution.”
He added that the administrations of former Presidents Olusegun and Goodluck Jonathan attempted to save, but were frustrated.
Akinyemi expressed concern that some of the governors who opposed to the laudable idea were now occupying powerful positions in government.
“Serious attempts were made by both the Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations to put in place savings through the backdoor such EXCESS CRUDE ACCOUNTS AND COMMONWEALTH SAVINGS FUNDS,” he said.
“Both were frustrated by the states and the judiciary. The irony in Nigerian history is that some of the state governors who spearheaded the opposition to the attempts to save are now prominent in the cabinet and the senate.
“What previous administrations failed to do and which the present Buhari Administration should do is to single-mindedly drive a constitutional amendment that would follow the Norwegian model.
“The Norwegian experience involves setting up a government pension fund global into which 100% of the government’s revenue from royalties and dividends are paid. In any one year, no more than 4% is allowed to be drawn from the account. The Nigerian model, given our peculiar federalism, can include a provision that any withdrawal from the fund must be with a unanimous decision of the members of the national economic council.
“This is the way forward and goes beyond name calling and the blame game.”