According to Peoples Gazette, Transport Minister Rotimi Ameachi has been caught on tape admitting that President Muhammadu Buhari has always directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to continue printing money since 2015.
Mr Buhari campaigned on promises to revitalise the Nigerian economy, but his administration has been chastised for worsening the country’s economic situation over the last six years.
Mr Amaechi also revealed in an interview with journalists prior to the 2019 general election, in which Mr Buhari was re-elected, that they took an oath never to openly confess to Nigerians that the government was on a printing spree of the national currency.
“And most of you didn’t know when we took over, and most Nigerians don’t even know because we swore an oath not to tell anyone we were printing money,” Mr Amaechi explained.
Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria
“Do you know what happens when a country prints money? When it has no money,” he explained. “All we were doing was printing money to pay off debts.”
Mr. Amaechi’s remarks highlighted the cover-up that has accompanied Mr. Buhari’s widely criticised approach to the country’s economy, as millions of people remain impoverished. Since then, Nigeria has emerged as the country with the most poor people in the world. In addition, the country has the world’s lowest power supply and the second highest number of unemployed people.
Earlier this year, the renowned credit rating institution Fitch stated that the Nigerian central bank under Mr Buhari has been printing money at an alarming pace, warning that such tactics could exacerbate the country’s 200 million people’s economic woes.
Governor Godwin Obaseki expressed concern about crude oil revenue last month, revealing that the federal government printed an extra N60 billion for states to share in March.
“Where will we find this money in a year or so when we go to Abuja to share it?” We received FAAC for March last month,” he said, adding that “the federal government printed an additional $50 to $60 billion to top-up for us to share.”
“My concern is that we will wake up one day like Argentina, with the naira at 1,000, 2,000, and moving because we don’t have capital coming in,” he said, lamenting that the current administration borrows without the means or the intention of repaying.
In response, Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, accused the governor of spreading lies, saying, “The issue posed by the Edo state governor for me is very, very sad because it is not a reality.”
Similarly, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), dismissed Mr Obaseki’s comment as “unfortunate and totally inappropriate.”
Mr Emefiele addressed the issue while speaking with journalists, saying, “If you understand the idea of printing money. It is not about printing money, but about lending money.
“That is our responsibility – to print. It is about lending money, so there is no need to raise the issue of money printing as though we are going into a factory and printing naira to distribute on the streets.”
Prior to Mr. Buhari’s inauguration on May 29, 2015, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo claimed that their administration will inherit $60 billion in foreign and domestic debt from the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Osinbajo also characterised the Nigerian economy as unfortunate, noting that the country would spend 21% of its 2015 budget on debt servicing.
“We are worried that our economy is experiencing one of the worst periods in history. The total amount of domestic and foreign debt is $60 billion. “Our debt servicing bill for 2015 is N953.6 billion, or around 21% of our budget,” said the vice president.
Mr Amaechi’s spokesman did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the minister’s recording, which was part of a scandalous sequence that appeared in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
While Mr Buhari and his appointees have repeatedly claimed that they encountered an empty treasury, available facts show that this assertion is false. When it arrived in May 2015, the government met at least $2.07 billion in excess crude accounts.