Senate confirmed it's rubber stamp status by approving Buhari’s latest loan request

Buhari's aide, Adesina, has said there's enough room for borrowing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

/ by National Pivot

If you actually believed that the Nigerian Senate is concerned about the nation's mounting debts, then you are part of the problem.

By now it is no longer news that the Buhari administration is a government of loans, loans, and more loans. It is also not surprising that the Senate has kept to its words of doing the biddings of the President by approving, approving and approving.

There has been no shortage of concerns over what critics described as 'senseless' and 'inexcusable' borrowings by the Buhari administration without "any significant development project into which the money was invested." But despite growing concerns and objections by the public including from the hailing camp, the Buhari government thinks its just wailers being wailers.

President Muhammadu Buhari had inherited a debt profile of about N12T from his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, according to Africa Check, but doubled it to over N24T after borrowing N12.27 trillion within three years of coming to power. But according to Atiku Samuel,who is the head of research at BudgiT, the debt figures provided by the Debt Management Office, "is just a fraction of Nigeria’s debt."

He said, “What you see at the Debt Management Office is just a fraction of Nigeria’s debt,”

“There are special accounts that are dedicated by law, but unfortunately the federal government has been taking funds from [them] to meet its budgetary obligations.”

He said the government had been drawing from “funds like the ecological fund, even borrowing from the excess crude account. He added that there is also debt to contractors and the overdrafts the Buhari administration takes from the Central Bank – which is now about N4 trillion – and there are also judgment debts.” Yet the Buhari administration wants more loans.

In fact, Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, has said worries over Nigeria's rising debt is unnecessary since current figures of loans accrued, were within the capacity of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) to service and repay.

Adesina said: “Don’t forget that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came out to say that Nigeria’s economy has the capacity to absorb more loans and that Nigeria is taking below what its GDP can afford. IMF said it and it is on record. Nigeria’s GDP can service more loans than it is taking. That is a vote of confidence in Nigeria’s ability to repay the loans it is taking.

“Taking loans to use for development is not a crime. But taking loans to steal and pocket as we used to have it in this country is what is criminal. You will find out that even the profile of the loans, Nigerians don’t know it."

On its part, the hypocritical Senate seem as though it cared, by raising alarm that Nigeria’s total debt profile would stand at N33 trillion, if President Muhammadu Buhari got approval for the $22.7 billion foreign loan he had request. Yet, it approved the President's N850 billion request, and now, the President's $5.5 billion loan request.

Yes, its true that covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted oil dependent economies, but in Nigeria's case, Covid-19 is only used as a scapegoat.

In case no one else noticed, the World Bank's lead economist on Nigeria, Marco Hernandez, recently said the financial crisis currently facing the Nigerian government has been coming, and that even if the covid-19 outbreak were contained, the situation would have stiil been “unprecedented, and shocking.”

If using covid-19 is enough excuse to justify more borrowings, then Algeria's response to the impact of covid-19 on its economy proves Nigeria is a lost cause.

In a recent report, the Algerian government in response to its financial crisis caused by the global collapse in oil prices and worldwide coronavirus lockdowns, thought it wise to reduce the state budget by half. The huge reduction even, didn't stop the government from increasing its minimum wage from 18,000 dinars ($140) per month to 20,000 dinars, and abolished income tax for those earning 30,000 dinars or less.

It may also interest you to know that while Nigeria brags about an increase in external reserves to about $35 billion, Algeria’s foreign exchange reserves sits above $50 billion.

Again, there's a sharp contrast here between the president of Nigeria and that of Algeria. While our government keeps seeking for loans, Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, ruled out approaching the IMF for a bailout, contending that “accumulating debt harms national sovereignty” when it is owed to foreign institutions.

What on earth is wrong with Nigeria? Could it be that our leaders were contracted to sell us out for something we're yet to realize? Or is it that our leaders are just being plain stupid and selfish? Or could it be true that Buhari is truly the clueless one?

But, what about all the pressure groups in country? Isn't it time for for these groups to merge into a mega pressure group to resist these career politicians whom according to Abubakar Tsav, would do anything for money?

National chairman of People's Redemption Party PRP, Malam Falau Bello, has advised the Buhari administration to cut the cost of governance instead of dipping the country into further debt.

He said Buhari should “considerably reduce the cost of the legislature to the economy which is one of the highest, if not the highest in the world, by reducing its budget to no more than half, or abolishing the bicameral legislature and making it unicameral as done by sensible and sensitive nations in recent history.

“Nigeria is a poor nation and cannot afford a bicameral assembly paying itself so handsomely without any checks on its expenditures. We would be with the president if he initiates a serious downward review of the costs of the National Assembly to the nation.”

"The President should honour some of his campaign promises which include reducing the presidential fleet, cutting the budget of the Presidency as a means of giving him the moral courage and strength to reduce the unnecessary and over bloated wage bill and cost of governance in Nigeria.

“Reducing some ministries and merging some MDA’s as conceived by previous administrations. We urge President Buhari to have the courage of looking into and implementing in whole or in part the Stephen Oronsaye report as a means of reducing the cost of governance in Nigeria, " he added.

Bello is one of many Nigerians including former Vice president Atiku Abubakar, Reno Omokri, Obasanjo, Shehu Sani, and others who have cautioned the president against opting for more loans, but to no avail. Buhari would rather borrow then shamelessly beg for his debts to be forgiven.

Surely, a country run by a clueless government, legislated by fatheaded Nass, judged by a witless judiciary, and followed by a tacit population, is without a doubt, a dumb country.

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