As the Federal Government has approached the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to approve a request for $4,054,476,863 billion and €710 million loan, the two leading political parties in Nigeria, namely the ruling APC and major opposition party, the PDP are each other’s jugular.
While the PDP is stridently kicking against the borrowing, the APC has stood up in fierce defence of the request.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, in a letter he addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, asked for consideration and approval of an external loan to fund projects captured under the 2018-2021 borrowing plan.
The President’s letter dated August 24, 2021, which was an addendum to an earlier one, was read during plenary on Monday (September 13, 2021) by Lawan.
Buhari, in the letter, 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.
He explained that the amount would be used to fund federal and state governments’ projects which 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 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 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.
But the PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said 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.
The party noted: “The PDP laments that with the N33.107 trillion debt already accumulated by President Buhari and the APC with nothing to show but decayed infrastructure and a depressed economy, an addition N5.62 trillion borrowing proposed by Buhari for the 2022 budget and now a fresh N2.66 trillion external loan, the APC will be hanging over N40 trillion debt on the nation, with no clear-cut repayment plan.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to personal pockets of their corrupt leaders.
“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 Product (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 PDP however called on the National Assembly to save the nation by rising above partisan sentiments to reject the latest request by President Buhari for a fresh foreign loan.
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.”
However, in swift reaction, the All Progressives Congress (APC) says the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is borrowing to address the country’s infrastructure deficit which would in turn stimulate the economy.
In a statement on Wednesday (September 15, 2021), the APC accused the PDP of mismanaging the country’s economy when the party (PDP) was in power, explaining that the borrowings will create employment, and strengthen agriculture among others.
“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 – uplifting the living standard of the citizens,” the statement signed by the National Secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, read.
The APC, which accused the PDP of pushing the country into “insolvency” to the extent that some states were unable to pay workers their salaries, lauded the present administration for bailing out the states.
“In a welcome and commendable change, the Buhari-led administration through its economic management skills bailed out states to pay salary backlogs and embarked on large-scale infrastructure development projects that stimulated the economy and exited the era of insolvency and recession caused by the ineptitude of the PDP administration,” the statement added while praising the cooperation among the three arms of government.
According to the ruling party, the cooperation will “ensure good governance, particularly in the area of economic development.
“The country and citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries.”