The Federal Government has clarified that the debts being taken are not for funding recurrent expenditures but for implementing capital projects which previous administrations failed to carry out.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed stated this in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital on Thursday during a one-day town hall meeting on the power situation in the state.
The minister’s explanation is coming on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari’s plea at the UNGA meeting, for “rich nations” and international financial institutions for outright debt cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges in the wake of the COVID-19”.
The president’s most recent request for an external loan was sent to the Senate on September 14.
In his letter transmitted to the Senate, he sought the approval of the lawmakers to borrow $4 billion and €710 million loans from bilateral and multilateral organisations to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
The National Assembly had approved one earlier in July where the President requested to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans contained in the initial 2018-2020 borrowing plan.
Further defending the borrowings, Lai Mohammed said that the Federal Government has implemented a lot of projects in different parts of the country which, according to him, past administrations had used as a conduit pipe to squander public funds.
The minister argued that infrastructure is the engine of economic growth, hence, the premium it places on building and reconstruction.
“Naysayers have recently ramped up their criticism of the Buhari administration from borrowing. These critics are very insincere; we do not borrow for recurrent expenditure neither do we borrow to pay salaries. We are borrowing to build world-class infrastructures that will benefit generations of Nigerians and we have a lot to show from the loans we have taken.” Mohammed stated.
According to him, the Federal Government has over 13,000 kilometers of federal roads under repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
“There’s a road project in every state today. Today we have started the countdown to when the second Niger bridge which successive administrations have built only on paper will be completed.”
“It is an irony that those who are criticizing us today performed very badly in terms of modernizing our infrastructure even when they served at a time when our earnings were multiples of what we get today. Have they embarked on the kind of infrastructure development we are currently engaged in perhaps there would have been no reason for us to borrow as much as we are doing today.
“For example, in their time they claimed to have spent billions of naira in building infrastructure but as one can see their infrastructure projects are only on the pages of newspapers. Today we are still saddled with looking for resources to build the same infrastructure for which they claimed to have allocated huge resources. We’ll however not be deterred by their antics, we’ll continue to ignore those who have decided to play politics with everything,” Mohammed added.