The President, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), Chief Olabintan Famutimi, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to hasten economic diversification strategy of his administration, saying that the era of total dependence on oil is gone for good.
“Now that oil prices have fallen and we have many cargoes of crude oil that are floating on the sea, we must embrace the non-oil sector. The good news is that we have a government that has been very alarmed by the way revenue and oil prices are dwindling; he saw it all and campaigned against the impunity with which we run everything. Excess crude account has been totally depleted, if we now have no money coming in and we continue to spend the way we are spending, we are setting a pace for disaster,” Famutimi said.
He observed that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has also helped to curb impunity and block financial leakages. “All of us now have to go to the Federal Government account. The TSA was not the idea of President Muhammadu Buhari, it was in the books but they were not enforcing it. They allowed impunity and stealing. People collect revenue from government that comes into their special account, lodge it at banks that collect interest, claim it, return some as profits. But all these acts are being curbed,” he said.
The Bank Verification Number (BVN), he said, has also created a transparent atmosphere and blocked money laundering. “Now, we have to know who owns which account and what happens to each account. A lot of the big funds in the banks have been abandoned, the owners have refused to go and do the BVN so that they will not be traced as owners of the money because of the fear of President Buhari. They now believe that the security services and the relevant agencies with all the banks will trace the billions to them. Some of them know that if the money is traced to them as a permanent secretary or director in a government department, for instance, they will not be able to explain how they came about it,” he explained.
According to him, money is deposited in some companies’ name and it is difficult to ascertain the ownership of some of these companies, but now, with the BVN, which is biometrics, “they have abandoned the money and a lot of them have run out of this country. A lot of them are afraid that travelling out of the country may not even be safe as well, so they are running from pillar to post,” he said.
By Dike Onwuamaeze