In reacting to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recent statement on the plan by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to obtain a $5.5 billion foreign loan, the All Progressives Congress (APC) urges the PDP to wake up to new realities that the days of borrowing to pay salaries and fund bogus projects are long gone.
In developing economies, governments typically resort to borrowing to finance economic development projects because taxation and other revenue streams may not necessarily provide sufficient funds for economic development. The recent borrowing plans proposed by the President Buhari administration is no different as the President has clearly stated in his request to the National Assembly that the loan will be used to finance the 2017 budget deficit and invest in critical and verifiable infrastructure project which will ultimately grow the economy.
The PDP in its statement unapologetically claimed that it “meritoriously” governed the country for 16 years and “handed over a buoyant economy to the APC in 2015’’. Really, what could be further from the truth? The APC considers the claim a new height of PDP’s insensitivity to the populace and has further exposed the PDP as a Party unrepentant for the rot it left the country after its 16 years rule.
Even when crude sold above $100, the immediate-past PDP-led administration struggled to build savings. In addition, the excess crude account was misspent. Poor capital expenditure meant badly-needed infrastructure development was put on hold. This forced construction companies with government contracts to cut back and sack thousands of workers.
Nigerians will sadly recall how in the leadup to President Buhari’s assumption of office, former finance minister and coordinating minister of the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in May 2015, revealed that Nigeria was borrowing to pay government salaries.
“Out of the N882 billion budgetary provision for borrowing, the government has borrowed 473 billion naira to meet up with recurrent expenditure, including salaries and overheads.” She said.
On April 2016, Okonjo-Iweala who served as finance minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo between 2003 and 2006 and again under President Goodluck Jonathan between 2011 and 2015 also blamed the country’s present economic situation on the zero political will of the immediate past government to save for the rainy day.
Today, successive national budgets of the APC administration has prioritised and increased budgetary allocation for capital projects as one of the strategic ways to stimulate economic growth in the country. The economy has started responding to policy initiatives of the government as evidenced in the improvement and stability of the naira exchange rate; increase in the country’s foreign reserves and the recent announcement by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the country has officially come out of recession.
The borrowing plan of the President Buhari-led administration is inevitable in view of the current economic realities in the country. As stated in the president’s loan request to the National Assembly, the loan will be invested in infrastructure projects such as the Mambilla Hydropower Project, Construction of a Second Runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe international Airport, counterpart funding for Rail projects and the construction of the Bodo-Bonny Road, with a Bridge across the Opobo Channel.
If the PDP thinks that by spewing falsehood and unsubstantiated claims, the Party will return to power in 2019, then the PDP needs to seriously rethink its strategies. Nigerians are not gullible and can differentiate between a Party who brought the country to where it is today and the Party clearing the rot and rebuilding the country.
As the National Assembly considers the proposed borrowing plan submitted by the President, the APC calls on members of the Senate and House of Representatives to rise above sundry sentiments and approve the request which is pro-people and in the overall best interest of the country.
Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi
National Publicity Secretary
All Progressives Congress (APC)