There are strong indications that the House of Representatives may not support the new move by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to take a $1.2bn loan from Brazilian government. Enquires by Vanguard from multiple sources within the National Assembly showed that many members are furious with the latest move and feel greatly concerned about the future of the country.
Nigeria is at the moment enmeshed in high loans and debts profile especially from the Chinese government to fund various infrastructural projects. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed had last week disclosed that a fresh request to take US$1.2 billion loan from Brazilian government was before the National Assembly. She, however, explained that the loan was basically to provide funding for agriculture and appealed for express approval of the loan request by the lawmakers.
Ahmed spoke while fielding questions from the James Faleke led-House of Representatives Committee on Finance when she appeared for the budget defence at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja on efforts to move the country towards other sources of revenue outside oil. She also said the government was making some provisions to acquire100,000 hectares of land per state for food production, adding that roads would be built in such locations to provide access to farmers to move their produce. Faleke had asked her why conscious efforts were not made to boost local production.
“Why are we not making conscious efforts to ensure that Nigeria comes back to production rather than consumption. “We’ve gotten requests for loans to construct roads but I’m sure these roads don’t produce anything, why are we not making conscious efforts at borrowing funds at single digits interest rates to support industries, the same way we borrow to construct bridges and roads”, he asked.
Responding, Ahmed said: “For borrowing to improve the industry, we are before parliament, I request for the approval for the loan that we call the Green Imperative Programme which is for a loan of 1.2 billion dollars from the Brazilian Government. “It’s a program that’s addressing the whole of agricultural value chain from mechanization, production, processing and selling.” Speaking to Vanguard on Sunday on the matter, a member of the House representing Mangu/Bokkos Federal Constituency of Plateau State, Hon. Solomon Bulus Maren, feared that the government by the latest move may be mortgaging the future of the country.
He said “It is unfortunate that we are still talking about borrowing at a time when our debt repayments are more than three times our capital expenditure. “I hope well-meaning Nigerians will rise against the outright sale and or mortgaging of our country without tangible infrastructure to show for it. “Our recurrent expenditure is still high, the Government should have come out with measures to cut such expenditure rather than at every dwindling of revenue the only option is to borrow. “The future of more Nigerians than the participants in Government are at risk. The President should preserve such future in the interest of a peaceful Nigeria.”
Similarly, another member, Hon. Ben Igbakpa representing Ethiope Federal Constituency of Delta State while bemoaning the request appealed to his colleagues to block the borrowing plans. “It’s shameful and unthinkable that we have reduced our blessed country to borrowing from Brazil. This Administration is shamelessly bent and poised to auction our collective future. I just hope that my colleagues in NASS will think Nigeria, forget party line and block the ending borrowing plans.
“This is slavery and must be resisted by all. It is time we learn to live within our means and make our clothes according to available fabrics since measuring our size is not sustainable”, he said. When contacted on the issue, the Spokesman of the House, Hon. Ben Kalu said there was no such request before the House. “We don’t have any such communication so can’t react now”, he said.