Reports reaching media channels on Thursday, March 6, indicated that the Senate has approved the $22.7 billion loan request which the presidency presented to the Upper Chambers of the National Assembly recently.
With the impending economic crisis which the recent Coronavirus pandemic threatens to throw many economies in the world, Nigeria does not seem to easily escape the trap as it is looking for ways to offset the incoming deficit in the budget. Rather than explore more ways to raise non-tax revenue generation capacity, the managers of the country are looking for shortcuts to meeting up with the expenditure burden.
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Yet, there is no other name to call this than a debt trap. Nigeria was once caught up in such a mess as this and it took tooth, nail and blood to get the nation out of a looming debt burden in the early days of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
Obasanjo, with his savvy wit and the assistance of then finance minister, Okonjo Iweala and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Charles Soludo, negotiated for debt forgiveness and paid off much of the burdensome debt Nigeria was owing to the Paris Club of Creditors.
The danger of this fresh move to borrow another tranche of non-serviceable loans is that it is fashioned in such a way that it may make the country lose many of its prized assets. Such was the case of Zambia, Philippines, Zimbabwe & a few other countries that their national assets have been taken over by creditors all because they could not meet up with their debt repayments. The implications are that Nigerian assets such as NTA, NNPC refineries, Seaports, Railway Corporation could be seized and run by these creditors for 99 years.
The other reality which comes into play in this inordinate hunger of Nigerian politicians to plunge the incoming generation and the current youthful population into debts which they cannot repay easily boils down to greed.
As alleged by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe at the Senate plenary on Thursday, much of the line items in the loan request even seems to favour a particular region in the country more than others. It is in this same loan request that the controversial and ridiculous $500 million upgradings and modernization of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) is housed.
Many analysts have also alleged that most of the projects listed in the budget request are deliberately inflated so as to provide kickbacks for whatever crony and politician who will be involved in the disbursement and execution of the contracts. The manner in which the loan approval is being done in the Senate reflects that there is dishonesty at play on the part of the executive branch of government and the legislature.
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One, therefore, wonders if the presidency and the legislature can all be colluding to shortchange the Nigerian populace, how much more betrayal can we expect from this government before the administration runs out by 2023.
Nigerians have been raising their voices against this ruse individually for a while, but now is the time to inundate and swarm the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Chinese lenders and other financial institutions that will be rushing to provide these hideous loans to the Nigerian government. Now is the time to let them know that Nigeria does not need a $27 billion loan to survive, but that its own government needs to cut wasteful expenditure and seek novel ways to generate much-needed funds internally for its development.
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