Nigeria’s $87bn Debt Overhang: Another View

(Special Contribution)

President Muhammadu Buhari

By Chukwudi Enekwechi

Lately, it seems the opposition elements in the polity are raising alarm over the humongous debt profile of the country, and they are quick to blame the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for it.

Train coaches acquired by Buhari administration

This is far from the truth as it is common knowledge that indeed a large chunk of the country’s total debt stock of N33 trillion was borrowed since the military era to 1999 and 2015. In fact the past Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) administrations were responsible for close to $64 billion of Nigeria’s debt profile.

New roads being constructed by the Buhari administration

Meanwhile in line with tradition that government is a continuum, the Buhari administration has never reneged on its obligations to the creditor nations and international lending organisations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. As it continues to service these accumulated national liabilities, it appears the roof of the house will come falling down going by the hullabaloo emanating from some quarters.

Yet, we must face the stark reality that it was based on the failure of the past administrations to make hay while the sun shone through infrastructural development, stimulation of the economy and fixing the country generally, that today the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is focussing on delivering the railways, roads, agriculture and other essentials in order to jumpstart the economy once more.

It is an established point that every country that seeks to develop must pay adequate attention to reviving its infrastructure, but in the case of Nigeria the past administrations dwelt mostly on consumption, and the result is the collapse of critical infrastructure such as power, roads, railways and housing.

Therefore as criticisms begin to ooze from the opposition elements it is important to note that in reality the blame should be laid at their doorsteps for failing to utilise the country’s scarce resources prudently even when the foreign exchange rate was as low as N150 to a dollar.

Lest we forget the benchmark for Nigeria’s major revenue earner, oil has been oscillating between $47 to $64 under the present administration, while in the previous administrations oil price reached as high as $160.

One begins to wonder why the huge oil revenue was frittered away to the detriment of the country’s economic development.
Is it not nauseating that on the assumption of office by the present administration, Nigerians were inundated with unbelievable stories of sleaze and waste that characterised the PDP sixteen years era.

Since then and despite natural occurrences like Covid19 the Buhari administration has been scratching the surface to rebuild the country by fighting corruption, diversifying the economy and reviving the country’s critical infrastructure for the benefit of all.

It can be said that rather than being a norm, the Buhari administration has succeeded in making corruption an anathema which most right-thinking people now seek to abhor.

Let us spare a thought for the major issues being raised by those opposing new loans by the Buhari government. To objectively do this, it must be stated that the government is borrowing for specific projects that will have direct impact on the citizens. They range from the construction of railways, roads development, improvement in agriculture and education.

While some of the projects are on-going, the new ones for which the loans are to be secured have been well-publicised to the world and the reason is to disabuse the minds of nay-sayers who will stop at nothing to malign a government that is focussed on rebuilding the country for the future generations.

As a matter of fact, the Buhari administration is on record to have borrowed about $24 Billion in its six years in office, while the totality of other debts are traceable to the PDP era, and one begins to wonder why they keep haranguing the Buhari administration for doing what it considers justifiable for the development of the country.

All over the world countries borrow for development, but the point of departure between the Buahri administration and the past PDP administrations is that his borrowings are tied to developmental projects and nobody should begrudge him.

The writer, Mr. Chukwudi Enekwechi is a Justice of Peace (JP)

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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