This moment appears not a good period for the nation, Nigeria. Apart from the wrong the signals that those in the positions of authority daily send to the masses via their decisions that breeds poverty and perpetuate powerlessness, there are fresh happenings on the political geography that has become a reality that every Nigerian of goodwill should worry about.
While this is ongoing, a higher level of anger seems to have emerged among Nigerians. And this time around, it is irked by the Federal Government’s plan to borrow an additional N1.92 trillion in 2020 which will take Nigeria’s total public debt portfolio to about N27.62 trillion, an additional N15.5 trillion borrowed since the first swearing-in of the Muhammadu Buhari administration four years ago.
Going by reports, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said on Monday, during the public presentation of the details of the budget, that the borrowings would come from domestic and external sources. She said about N745 Billion would be expected from domestic lenders, while about N850 Billion will come from foreign borrowing. Additional projects-tied loans totaling about N328.1 Billion, the minister said, are also being expected during the year from various multi-lateral and bi-lateral. And concluded that additional borrowing was designed to help government finance part of the over N2.2 Trillion deficit in the 2020 budget.
Though well explained by the Minister but doubt remained.
The people’s grouse, looking at commentaries are predicated on these two views; while some expressed the views that with such borrowing, “It is expected that the debt profile of the country would rise considering the fact that we have a deficit budget and even the deficit side of the budget was not met in the last budget year.’ Others have called on the government to discontinue borrowing in order to avoid a situation where a huge chunk of the country’s annual budget was spent on debt servicing.
While we acknowledge the imperative of borrowing to fund projects, we must add very quickly that such a project must be people-purposed. The borrowing plan must be made available and the beneficiary project must show an adequate capacity to generate a sum that can support the repayment plan.
Again, it is common knowledge that the nation’s economy is presently on the edge, hence, this should not be the best time for President Muhammadu Buhari and his aides to present themselves as all-knowing, more generous, more nationalistic, selfless, more honest or kind, more intelligent, good looking or well-briefed than other stakeholders. Rather it should be a moment to engage Nigerians with best minds to help get the answers and deploy the resources we need to move into the future.
This should be a time for the FG to listen and obey the feelings/opinions expressed by well-meaning Nigerians particularly the opinion coming from the financial experts.
For instance, contrary to the stand of the Federal Government that the nation only has revenue challenge and not debt problem, economists and experts have said that the country has a huge debt burden.
BY JEROMEPMARIO UTOMI