Dr Salihu Lukman, Director-General Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) has said that contrary to speculations, the President Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) Government is not reckless in borrowing.
He said this in a statement titled:”Nigeria’s Debt and Struggle for New Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja, adding that the debate on the issue, was being politicised.
Lukman explained that the recent borrowing by the Federal Government was to finance deficit in 2021 federal budget and to develop the country’s infrastructure.
“So far, the debate about Nigeria’s debt is based on the absolute value of the amount Nigeria owe.Variables of both Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and revenue are ignored in the debate.
“Without any doubt, some of the concerns expressed in the debate were legitimate, especially in relation to problems of exchange rate, which had further increased Nigeria’s debt burden.
“But in terms of looking at other critical variables, such as revenue profile and even performance of the economy, the debate is excessively politicisation.
“This is partly responsible for why some even suggest that compared to all previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administrations between 1999 and 2015, the performance of the APC-led administration of President Buhari is reckless,” he said.
The PGF DG noted that during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s (1999 – 2007), external debt was reduced to $2.11 billion at the end of 2007.
He noted that the domestic component increased from N798 billion to N2.17 trillion within the same period.
“According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), the breakdown of Nigeria’s debt stock shows that $20.5 billion (about 73%) was owed to Paris Club.
“By 2004, the external debt stock had risen to $35.94 billion,” Lukman said.
He added that the negotiation eventually paid off in 2005 when Paris Club granted relief of $18 billion.
Lukman added that by the end of 2006, the Obasanjo administration had cleared off the Paris Club’s debt.
“However, the country still owed $2.11 billion external debt and domestic debt was or N2.17 trillion,” he said.
He noted that in the area of infrastructure, the APC-led administration of President Buhari had increased annual budgetary allocation for federal roads to about N260 billion.
This, he said, was against the allocation of 18 billion naira in 2015 under PDP administration.
“Significantly, more resources were devoted to construction of road and transport infrastructure than any other administration since 1999, and the results are roads, bridges, highways, rail lines and stations, and air and seaport upgrades.
“Work has since resumed on several stalled, abandoned or solution-defying road projects that were inherited, like the Loko-Oweto Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Sagamu-Benin Expressway, the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Kano-Maiduguri Expressway.
“Others are Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway, Obajana-Kabba Road, Ilorin-Jebba Road, Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Road, and several others are in progress, with some already close to completion,” Lukman said.
“Therefore, while appealing to the CBN to take every measure necessary urgently and expeditiously to stablise the Naira exchange rate.
“Similar appeal must also be made to all functionaries of the Federal Government,” he said.
He said this was especially in ministries of Finance and National Planning to provide all the intellectual leadership required to convert the false accusation that APC-led government of Buhari is recklessly borrowing.
He noted that Nigeria’s borrowing, both with reference to debt and GDP and debt and revenue ratio was still below the permissible economic threshold of below 60% and 46% respectively.
He said if economic indices were the reference point in any comparative assessment of performance President Buhari- led administration as compared to all the PDP administrations between 1999 and 2016, PDP leaders and their supporters could not have any voice.(NAN)