A former lawmaker, Shehu Sani, said the 8th Senate rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request to save Nigeria from sinking into the dark gully of a perpetual debt trap.
Mr Sani who was at the time, the chairman of the Senate committee on local and foreign debt said the 8th Senate did not want the country to be recolonised by creditor banks.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday forwarded a request to the Senate to reconsider and approve the federal government’s 2016 to 2018 external borrowing plan.
The loan, he said, is to execute key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.
This latest request has elicited mixed reactions from Nigerians, one of such being that of the former lawmaker.
President Buhari had sent the same request to the eight Senate under Bukola Saraki in 2016. He had requested for about $30 billion.
The then lawmakers, however, rejected the request as majority voted against it when it was brought for consideration.
Although Mr Buhari did not state the amount to be borrowed in his recent letter, he explained that the external borrowing plan targets projects cuts across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation.
In his statement, Mr Sani said Nigeria’s external debt in 2015 was $10.32 Billion and it escalated to $22.08 in the second quarter this year – which is 114 per cent.
Had the 8th Senate approved that loan request, Nigeria’s external debt could have catapulted to over $52 Billion and that is not sustainable, he said.
He said with the current escalation of borrowing, Nigeria will be walking into debt slavery.
“They will always tell you that even America is borrowing and I don’t know how rational is it to keep on borrowing because Another country is borrowing.
“If we keep listening to Bankers and contractors we will keep borrowing and burying ourselves and leave behind for our children a legacy of debt burden,” he said.
Mr Sani also said loans are not charities and most of those encouraging more borrowing are “parasitic consultants, commission agents, rent seeking fronts and contractors.”
In the 2020 budget presented by the president in October, Mr Buhari said Nigeria will use nearly a quarter of the budget to repay debts the government owes locally and internationally.
The budget of N10.3 trillion is by far, the country’s highest ever.
Of that amount, Mr Buhari said his government will spend N2.5 trillion to service debts.
Nigeria’s debt stood at N24.947 trillion (US$ 81.274 billion) at the end of March 2019, according to figures published by the Debt Management Office.
The 8th Senate under Bukola Saraki was seen as not particularly friendly to the federal government. That is not the case with this 9th Senate and the new loan request is expected to be passed by the Senate which is now dominated by the president’s loyalists.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan recently said the Senate under him would pass all requests by Mr Buhari as they are meant to make Nigeria better.
Source: Premium Times