Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola on Tuesday came down hard on Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, accusing her of leading the Federal Government’s resolve to frustrate state governments in the country by denying them access to development funds.
Fashola spoke while addressing members of the Lagos State House of Assembly on the the current state of the Nigerian economy.
According to Fashola, due to the current state of the economy, “a total of 5,170 local workers and 450 expatriate workers have been laid off between December 2014 and February 2015″ from four major construction companies in the country.
He added: “My quick check revealed that at least 2,400 bank workers have been laid off in March 2015 alone”.
He said that the economy had been run aground by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration and that as a result, the state has to maintain some level of austerity.
His words: “Today the Honourable Minister for Finance, if any honour still attaches to her actions, has stopped Nigerian banks from funding state governments because of elections, as if the needs of the people for roads, healthcare, drugs, education and security has stopped.
“She has insisted that inspite of individual appraisals of each bank by their credit committees, all State requests for funding by banks must be approved by her Ministry.
“To the best of my knowledge, she has not granted any of the requests submitted to her for approval in her new coordinating role as the retail banker for the Nigerian economy.
“A recent study that I commissioned just two months ago shows that construction workers are losing their jobs in the thousands across the country.
“Reports from four major construction companies show that a total of 5,170 local workers and 450 expatriate workers have been laid off between December 2014 and February 2015 and there will be more to follow, from only four companies.
“Your guess is then as good as mine about what is happening in several other hundreds of middle and small construction companies.
“The disposable income value of rich and poor Nigerians have been diminished considerably, and the prognosis is not encouraging having regard to the high unemployment rates, high interest rate, and the necessity for self-generation of electricity which further erodes this income.
“My quick check revealed that at least 2,400 bank workers have been laid off in March 2015 alone.
“Investigations at the port showed that many importers cannot collect their goods because the prices between when they ordered and when they arrived has risen sharply.
“This is largely as a result of the devaluation of the naira that followed the postponement of the election.
“These goods include raw materials for factories and small businesses. Without these raw materials, they cannot produce. If they cannot produce they will most likely lay off workers”.