$30 Billion Loan: Keep your opinions to yourselves — Senate tells Nigerians

This could become the worst Senate in Nigeria's history.

Monday, March 9, 2020

/ by National Pivot

President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to seek $29.6 billion loan has faced backlash from Nigerians who see it as yet another reckless move by the Buhari administration to further sink the country into more debt.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his vice Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, are among prominent leaders in the country to voice their opposition to the said loan.

Atiku had criticized the President's decision saying Buhari is a terrible business man who wants to destroy the future of innocent Nigerians. He said the very people under whose names he's taking the loan, are highly unlikely to benefit from it.

According to the former vice president, Buhari's decision to borrow more money is "frightening, not just because of the amount, but because after such unprecedented borrowing, we have emerged as the world headquarters for extreme poverty and the global capital for out of school children. It begs the question: what were the funds used for?"

Speaking further he said, " Even if this administration borrows $1 trillion, it will never be enough because their challenge is one of capacity. They are not using the funds they already have wisely. They do not need more debt. They need more intellectual capacity.

"The money the Muhammadu Buhari administration wants to borrow to fund its Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) could be acquired without sinking the nation into further debt. All it requires is visionary leadership and business acumen."

Obasanjo on his own part, said President Buhari has dangerous advisers who use statistics to deceive him into sinking the country further into debt.

“Everyone knows that our governments are notoriously deficient in serious and adequate discipline and most often lack competence and consistency as well," the former President said.

"What is more we are not doing enough to address the fundamental, deep-seated and structural challenges that inhibit the expansion of our economy. As if this is not bad enough, we are currently seeking to add another $29.6 billion loan to our already overburdened debt portfolio.

"I do not need the brain of any genius to conclude that those who use statistics to dig us deeper into debt are our enemies. Statistics can be used to serve any purpose and that is why Winston Churchill talked of 'lies, damn lies and statistics' meaning statistics can be made master of lies, " he added.

But it seems however, that criticisms would neither stop the Buhari administration nor force sense into what Nigerians refer to as a " rubber stamp" National Assembly, who pledged to honour demands by the president irrespective of what Nigerians think. This according to a recent report, is exactly what the Senate is currently up to.

A report by PUNCH, said Sources in the Senate committee on local and foreign loans, dismissed the possibility of holding a public hearing before it approves the $29bn borrowing request sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Holding a public hearing on the issue would be counterproductive because the stakeholders would come and kick against the loan.

“We want to avoid a situation whereby the press would go to town with reports that Nigerians have rejected the loan request and the National Assembly would pass it the following day.

“As for me and a few of my colleagues that I have spoken with, we are not really sure of our active participation in the committee’s activities over the loan because it would end up as a mere academic exercise,” one source said.

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