Nigeria’s Vice President-elect, Yemi Osinbajo, considers Africa’s biggest economy a burden to inherit from the previous administration.
According to Osinbajo, an estimated 110 million of the country’s 170 million population were living in extreme poverty while the biggest slice of the nation’s wealth was catering to a small group of people.
Osinbajo spoke at the opening of a two-day policy dialogue on the implementation of the agenda for change in Abuja.
He said, “We are concerned that our economy is currently in perhaps its worst moment in history. Local and international debts stand at 60 billion US dollars.
“Our debt servicing bill for 2015 is 953.6 billion naira, 21 per cent of our budget. On account of severely dwindled resources, over two-thirds of the states in Nigeria owe salaries.”
The declining oil price has been the reason for many of Nigeria’s economic woes. The existing laws surrounding oil are vague and outdated.
On the issue of the West African country passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Chris Du Toit, director of corporate finance at Camac Energy said, “There are a lot of role players involved which has held up the process.”
The PIB enables the petroleum ministry to determine fiscal terms.
Bala Zakka, technical director at Drill Bits, said passing this bill into law will ensure attractiveness of the oil producing nation to foreign investors and still have local tolerance.
However, Zakka said the Jonathan administration could be proud of the Local Content Bill which was passed in 2010 which helped increase local participation.
Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was also present at the dialogue and advised that the new administration should not attempt to do everything at once but invest in proper planning with a commitment to deliver.
Blair highlighted that this is the best time for the Buhari-led administration to take hard decisions as public support is still in their favour.
According to Osinbajo, the aim of the policy dialogue is to interrogate the positions and propositions before a wider audience and to launch a robust public conversation on policy directions and priorities that would help inform the incoming administration’s approach in the next four years.