The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has explained that the looted fund recovered so far by government is far cry from what the country needs to revive the economy.
The minister said this on Friday when he appeared on a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
According to him, the amount of money recovered is always being made public.
“What we have recovered and if my record is right is about N78 billion, and 3 million dollars. We have been able to block various accounts in which about $9 billion is found but those are not money available to us because we are still in court over them.
The government spends N165 billion every month to pay federal civil servants, even what has been so far recovered will not even pay 50% of the salaries in a month.
Mohammed assured Nigerians that every penny recovered will be judiciously spent and nobody could re-loot what had been recovered under the administration.
The minister further explained that Nigerians should understand that what had been recovered was so little compared to what the people needed on a continuous basis.
On budget release, he recalled that the Federal Ministry of Finance released N400 billion for capital projects, mostly on roads, railway, and power.
“N400 billion seems a lot, but you must also understand that for three or four years contractors were not paid. So, when we paid this money to contractors, they also use part of it to settle their own debt, they use part of it to recall laid off staff. But the truth of the matter is that many of them have been paid, they are yet to mobilise to site and they cannot do so until the rains are over,” he said.
Mohammed said that what the government owed the contractors was about N2 trillion.
He also described as “preposterous”, the call for resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the economy.
It is very painful in a situation where the armed robber is now the one sympathising with the victim. I read in the dailies that the PDP said that the President must resign because of the economy.
While we are not going to indulge in blame game, I think we should also be honest enough to admit that we will not have been where we are today if they had done what they ought to do.
For the party to ask the President to resign is just a big joke.
The minister said that though the government was not interested in blame game, it was important to set the records straight.
He noted that, “Nigeria is not the only country hit by the recession and crash in price of crude, but other countries made savings”.
“Saudi Arabia today has about $600 billion in reserve and this is by planning and saving for the future which the past administration failed to do during surplus. This is not about blaming other administration, but we believe that one should be honest when criticising,” he said.
Mohammed then assured that the Federal Government would do everything possible to bring the country out of the economic situation.
The PDP new Media Director, Deji Adeyanju, had in a statement in Abuja, asked the President to resign “for destroying” the economy.
Adeyanju was reacting to the data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) issued on Wednesday which stated that Nigeria was in recession.