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- Category: Business and Economy
- Published on Friday, 24 September 2010 19:59
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 2400
Nigeria’s Federal Government is facing a serious cash squeeze that is hindering its capacity to deliver on a panoply of promises, including bankrolling a credible general election, P.M.NEWS can authoritatively disclose today.
Picture: Attahiru Jega
With external debt cruising close to $30 billion and domestic debt above N2.5 trillion and 2010 deficit budget projected above N1.52 trillion, the nation is literally broke.
Presidency officials, used to the profligacy of the past years, are finding it difficult to come to terms with this scary reality, but the season of denial may soon be over.
P.M.NEWS learnt that the nearly bankrupt country is finding it difficult to provide the N87.5 billion required by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct the 2011 elections.
So far, government has only been able to provide N18 billion of the entire money requested by the Prof. Attahiru Jega led INEC, despite President Goodluck Jonathan’s directive to the Federal Finance Ministry.
The unavailability of the rest of the money is the major reason that has made INEC to plead for more time to conduct a credible poll. It hitherto fixed January for the election but now wants the polls scheduled for between March and April. This request will entail the amendments of both the constitution and the electoral act.
To conduct the election, INEC needs a credible electoral register and believes the inherited register from the Maurice Iwu INEC was largely irredeemable, as borne out by the farce recorded, bye-poll after bye-poll.
INEC is expected to award the contracts for the supply of Direct Data Capture machines to vendor companies any time from now, more than 4 weeks after it shortlisted the companies to supply them.
“The problem INEC is facing, why it has been stalling signing the contracts, is that it is not sure when it will get the rest of the money,” said a very close source in the Federal Ministry of Finance.
P.M.NEWS sources said part of the indications of government’s dire financial straits is also demonstrated in its reluctance to pay federal workers a new wage, despite President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise to workers on May Day.
“Government just doesn’t have the money to bankroll all these expenses,” said our source.
Yesterday, Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu said government would pay the new minimum wage of N17,000 effective from the end of September. But our sources said, if government is able to muster the resources to do so, it will only be compounding its chronic financial problems.
P.M.NEWS learnt that among the financial heartaches of government is the huge debt of $6 billion owed its joint venture partners in the oil production sector. The unpaid debt has stalled fresh injection of funds in the sector, in turn hamstringing Nigeria’s capacity to produce up to 4 million barrels of oil a day, at a time it could swell its purse from the high prices that crude oil enjoys internationally.
Despite the financial problems threatening the elections, President Jonathan and his team have pledged to make 29 May 2011 handover date a reality.