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National Assembly defends Buhari’s $4.9bn loan plan, APC, PDP clash over debt

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The Senate on Wednesday justified the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)’s plan to obtain $4.054bn and €710m ($$839m) loans..



The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, said there was no country that does not engage in deficit financing.

Basiru said this as the Director General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, while giving a breakdown of the public debt stock for the second quarter of 2021 during a virtual media presentation on Wednesday, said Nigeria’s total public debt stock rose from N33.11tn as of March 31, 2021 to N35.47tn as of June 30, 2021.

This suggests an increase of N2.36tn or 7.12776 per cent increase.

The President had on Tuesday submitted to the National Assembly, a request for approval to obtain fresh external loans of $4.054bn and €710m (($$839m).

According to a letter written to both chambers of the National Assembly, Buhari is also seeking the federal legislature’s approval for grant components of $125m in the 2018-2020 external rolling borrowing plan.

The President had on May 18, 2021sought the approval of the Senate to borrow $6.18bn external loan to finance this year’s N5.6tn budget deficit.

He said the loans would be used to finance critical projects and create jobs.

If the President gets the go-ahead to obtain the loans, the country’s debt profile will rise.

In response, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “For us in the PDP, the APC has simply confirmed what we have always known since 2014. The APC can only function in opposition. It simply lacks what it takes to provide leadership.

“This regime is the least qualified to talk about corruption. It is simply borrowing to finance the corrupt lifestyles of its party leaders and their cronies. The money borrowed since 2015 has ended up in private pockets. This explains the various financial scandals in FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Service) , NPA (Nigerian Ports Authority), NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme), NCC (Nigerian Communications Commissions) and several government parastatals under their watch. Nigerians have started a countdown to 2023.”

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In a related development, the All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday disagreed over rising debts under the Buhari regime

The APC defended plans by the President to borrow additional $4bn and €710m from foreign lenders to finance projects.

The party explained that the regime was seeking additional loans to finance critical projects in order to stimulate the economy and create jobs in the nation’s interest.

This was contained in a statement titled, “APC to PDP: Borrowings are to finance development projects, signed by the party’s National Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, in Abuja, on Wednesday.

The PDP had on Tuesday said the loan request was another move by the President and his All Progressives Congress-led regime to further mortgage the future of Nigeria and Nigerians with less than two years left in office.

Akpanudoedehe on Wednesday said the borrowings were for the benefit of the country.

He stated, “Borrowings by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government are for the good of the country as the money is used to develop critical infrastructure that is stimulating economic growth, generating jobs, reducing poverty and improving the general well-being of the citizenry.

“Unlike in the brazen looting days of the Peoples Democratic Party, the borrowings are designed to finance the deficit in the 2021 budget to enable the realisation of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan that touches key sectors such as infrastructure development, boosting healthcare services, strengthening agriculture to deepen food security, more energy generation and continued tackling of the ravaging COVID-19 global pandemic.

“From the foregoing, it is abundantly clear that the borrowing is hinged on genuine needs and based on the necessity to strengthen the foundation of the national economy and achieve the desired primary purpose of the government of uplifting the living standard of the citizens.

“It was in the PDP’ era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460m loan taken from China to fund a phony Abuja closed-circuit television contract awarded in August 2010.”

The party urged Nigerians to recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of alleged misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers’ salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few.

Akpanidoedehe welcomed the bi-partisan support the President was receiving from the National Assembly.

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