FORMER vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has written the National Assembly asking senate president Senator Ahmed Lawan to reject any new loan request from the Buhari government meant for projects that are not viable.
Over recent months, the Nigerian government has stepped up its receipt of Chinese loans, borrowing money for numerous infrastructural projects, including railway lines and power projects. However, it recently came to light that some of these loans come with caveats that allow the Chinese lenders to confiscate Nigerian assets if the government ever defaults on its payments.
Stepping into the matter, Alhaji Atiku urged the National Assembly to also halt approval for loans that are not income-generating or production-based. In his letter, he pointed out that the country risked insolvency if it continued to borrow money.
In addition, Alhaji Atiku’s letter noted that Nigerians should not fold their hands and watch while the country teeters towards financial peril. He noted that as of May 29, 2015, Nigeria’s total national debt was standing approximately at N12trn but as of August 2020, this had risen to N28.63trn.
Warning that the economy could collapse under this burden, Alhaji Atiku added that more alarming was the fact that the foreign debt portion of the country’s national debt has risen from less than $10bn on May 29, 2015, to almost $30bn in August 2020. He noted that the future of the youth and unborn generations in the country had been placed in what could very well be bondage-like conditions.
Alhaji Atiku said: “A further cause for concern is the fact that not all of these debts are necessary. A study of the use to which these monies have been put to will show that much of it has gone towards items or projects that are non-productive or viable.
“As such, in view of your role as a check on the excesses of other arms of government, may I suggest that going forward, the National Assembly should refuse to approve any new loan requests, where such loans are to be spent on projects or items that are not income-generating or production-based, or indeed viable.”