President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to the National Assembly’s for approval for external borrowing of $29.96 billion to execute key infrastructural projects has continued to attract mixed reactions.
While the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) kicked against the plan and asked the legislators to throw it out, three Lagos lawmakers, in a separate chats yesterday backed the government, saying: “It was a well thought out plan if only the money would be properly managed and put to the right usage.”
The trio – Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who represents Surulere federal constituency 1; Mr. Wale Raji of the Epe federal constituency; and Mr. Rotimi Agunsoye of Kosofe federal constituency, while speaking separately during a grass roots empowerment programme by House leader, said borrowing is not a bad idea.
Gbajabiamila who empowered over 600 people in Surulere with series of work tools and machineries to help them out of recession, said the House of Representatives is prepared to work with President Buhari to fund the 2016 budget.
He said borrowing to finance infrastructural projects is not an irresponsible act, Lagos State did same, and the concomitant development is obvious.
According to him, “The House of Representatives will respond to President Buhari’s request in the interest of the people and quickly set the process in motion for its committees to carry out appropriate oversight functions on all projects executing agencies until the 2016 budget is fully implemented according law.
Raji, who is a member of the House Committee on Aids, Loan and Debts Management, which is currently looking at the President’s request, said, “Irrespective of commentaries on the request, the lower chamber was yet to take any position on the issue, whatever anybody is saying is in his or her personal capacity. However to me, there is nothing wrong with borrowing.
The idea is not bad depending on what the money is meant for. I think it’s a sensible thing to do. There is nothing bad in borrowing. What is important is money so borrowed should be judiciously invested.”
Agunsoye on his party said the proposal was the best way to go if we really mean to free this economy and make Nigerians happy.
“For instance, Dubai approached Nigeria during the Military Regime of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo for loan and it was denied because the former Head of State was skeptical of giving loan to a desert nation but look at what Dubai is today compared with Nigeria,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the spokesperson for the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye said it is important for Mr. President to itemise what he intended to do with the loan instead of lumping everything up in a coded term and to plunge the nation’s future into a burden of debt, arguing: “Mr. President’s approach could not be the preferred solution to the economic quagmire.”
Adeyeye added that the government budgeted N6.07tn for the 2016 fiscal year with a deficit of N2.22tn, and according to the breakdown, N1.8tn was budgeted for capital expenditure and President Buhari is now seeking to borrow over N9tn ($29.96bn) for ‘critical infrastructure’.
“This is absurd and way outside the government’s budgetary provisions for capital expenditure and must be rejected by all well-meaning Nigerians.
The National Secretary, National Conscience Party (NCP), Mr. Ayodele Akele, said it was not a surprise that Gbajabiamila and his colleagues in the state are backing such obnoxious proposals because they will extensively benefit from the loan.
“In the first instance, our lawmakers are not legislators of the people but belong to the family of political bourgeoisie that enjoys the wealth of this nation.”
The Lagos State governorship candidate of NCP, in the 2015 general elections warned that if Nigerians should by error or misplaced judgment allow President Buhari and the National Assembly to approve and obtain the loan, the future of the country would be mortgaged.
“For instance, Buhari told Nigerians that his government would not borrow money to finance the 2016 budget but the story is now different. He should also explain to us what happened to all the money recovered from loot. The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay once told Nigerians that 50 people stole about N1.5 trillion without mentioning their names but now the same government is planning to borrow humongous what a contradiction.
Similarly, the Executive Secretary, United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), Mr. Tony Uranata said he is yet to see any viable economic plan for the nation that would warrant or justify the demand for such a huge amount of loan “we need to scrutinize the plan carefully before delving into it because I have neither the time to do that. However, I don’t see any viability in collecting any loan that we will not be able to repay in the life span of this generation.