Many do not think the National Assembly will act otherwise and withhold approval for another borrowing spree from President Muhammadu Buhari, who is asking approval to borrow USD4,054,476,863.00; Euro 710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of USD125,000,000.00.
The lawmakers, since 2019, have not shown the will to curtail external borrowings, giving approval whenever the President sought it.
Figures from the Budget Office showed that the administration incurred N7.63 trillion in domestic debt from June 2015 to December 2020.
The administration also increased the nation’s external debt from $7.3 billion in 2015 to $28.57 billion by December 2020, an increase of over 300 per cent.
However, government officials like the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and Finance Minister think there is no cause for alarm.
Understandably, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has lashed out at President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the new round of borrowings.
The letter seeking from Buhari to the Senate, dated 24th August, 2021, was read during plenary by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.
He explained that the projects listed in the 2018-2021 Federal Government Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of USD4,054,476,863.00; Euro 710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of USD125,000,000.00.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it vehemently rejects the plan for the fresh loans, lamenting that with the reckless borrowing by President Buhari and the APC, Nigerians might eventually not have a nation and a patrimony that they can freely call their own, after the APC, which has less than two years to vacate office.
According to the party, with the N33.107 trillion debt already accumulated by the administration, an additional N5.62 trillion borrowing proposed for the 2022 budget and a fresh N2.66 trillion external loan, the administration will be hanging over N40 trillion debt on the nation, with no clear-cut repayment plan.
The party, in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, adds, “Given their incompetence, corruption and manifest nonchalant attitude to the plights of Nigerians, the APC and its administration have not shown any commitment towards wealth creation as expected of any responsible government.
“Rather, they have resorted to reckless borrowing, pillaging of our national vault and suppression of our productive sectors; a development that have crippled our Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) to the extent that our naira, which the PDP handed over to the APC at N167 to a dollar, has now collapsed to a dismal and all-time low of N557 to a dollar under the APC.
“The party also urged the National Assembly to immediately commence an open investigative hearing on all the loans collected by President Buhari especially with allegations that they are being diverted to the personal pockets of APC leaders, the cabal in the Presidency as well as APC government functionaries and their cronies.”
The PDP beef, and complaints from other quarters, notwithstanding, President Buhari, in his letter to the National Assembly, explained that the amount would be used to fund Federal and States Government projects cut across key sectors such as Infrastructure, Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Energy, Education and Human Capital Development and COVID-19 Response efforts.
According to the President, the projects which are spread across the six geo-political zones of the country would bring about employment generation and poverty reduction, as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society.
The letter reads: “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for same to become effective.
“The Senate President may wish to recall that I earlier transmitted a request on the proposed 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan for the concurrent approval of the Senate in May, 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward and addendum to the proposed Borrowing Plan.
“The Projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chatered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of USD4,054,476,863.00; Euro 710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of USD125,000,000.00.
“The Senate is kindly invited to note that the projects and programmes in the Borrowing Plan were selected based on positive, technical and economic evaluations and the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country including employment generation and poverty reduction as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society.
“The Senate may also wish to note that all the listed projects in the addendum form part of the 2018-2021 External Borrowing Plan and cover both the Federal and States Government projects and are geared towards the realization of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as Infrastructure, Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Energy, Education and Human Capital Development and COVID-19 Response efforts.
“A summary of some key projects in each of the six geo-political zones and a summary on the expected impacts on the socio-economic development of each of the six (6) geo-political zones are attached herewith as Annex II and III.
“Given the importance attached to the timely delivery of the projects listed in the proposed Borrowing Plan and the benefits both the Federal and State Governments stand to gain from the implementation of same, I hereby wish to request for the kind consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan to enable the projects become effective.”