President Muhammadu Buhari has formally sent a letter to the Nigerian Senate seeking its consideration and approval of $4.179 billion ($4.054 billion and $125 million) as well as £710 million external loans to fund projects captured under the 2018-2021 borrowing plan.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday vehemently rejected the move by the president, alleging that the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) was on a mission to mortgage the country.
The loan requests were the second time in 2021, that President Buhari would be asking the upper legislative chamber for approval of external loan to fund critical projects in the country.
Last May, the President sought the approval of the Senate to borrow $6.1 billion from the international capital market which the Red Chamber graciously approved shortly before going on a two-month long annual vacation in July, 2021.
The latest letter of request dated August 24, 2021 by President Buhari was read at yesterday plenary by President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan.
The President in the letter explained that the projects listed in the 2018-2021 Federal Government Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chatered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00; €710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of $125,000,000.00.
He explained that the amount would be used to fund federal and state projects cut across key sectors such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food security, energy, education and human capital development and COVID-19 Response efforts.
According to the president, the projects which are spread across the six geo-political zones of the country would bring about employment generation and poverty reduction, as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society.
The letter read in part: “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for same to become effective.
“The Senate President may wish to recall that I earlier transmitted a request on the proposed 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan for the concurrent approval of the Senate in May, 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward and addendum to the proposed Borrowing Plan.
“The projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00; €710,000,000.00 and Grant Component of $125,000,000.00.”
The president added: “The Senate is kindly invited to note that the projects and programmes in the Borrowing Plan were selected based on positive, technical and economic evaluations and the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country including employment generation and poverty reduction as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society.
“The Senate may also wish to note that all the listed projects in the addendum form part of the 2018-2021 External Borrowing Plan and cover both the federal and states government projects and are geared towards the realisation of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food security, energy, education and human capital development and COVID-19 response efforts.
“A summary of some key projects in each of the six geo-political zones and a summary on the expected impacts on the socio-economic development of each of the six geo-political zones are attached herewith as Annex II and III.
“Given the importance attached to the timely delivery of the projects listed in the proposed Borrowing Plan and the benefits both the federal and state governments stand to gain from the implementation of same, I hereby wish to request for the kind consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan to enable the projects become effective.”
Meanwhile, the PDP has the planned borrowing would further mortgage the nation.
The PDP in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, lamented that with the endless borrowing by president Buhari and the APC, Nigerians might eventually not have a nation and a patrimony they would be able to freely call their own.
The PDP further stated that with the N33.107 trillion debt already accumulated by President Buhari and the APC, “with nothing to show but decayed infrastructure and a depressed economy, with the additional borrowing proposed by Buhari for the 2022 budget and now a fresh N2.66 trillion external loan, the APC would be hanging over N40 trillion debt on the nation, with no clear-cut repayment plan.”
More alarming, the PDP stated were the debts, “the APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.”
The party added: “Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.”
According to the PDP, “the APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to personal pockets of their corrupt leaders.
“Given their incompetence, corruption and manifest nonchalant attitude to the plights of Nigerians, the APC and its administration have not shown any commitment towards wealth creation as expected of any responsible government.”
Rather, the party said the APC had resorted to reckless borrowing, “pillaging of the national vault and suppression of our productive sectors; a development that have crippled our Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) to the extent that our naira, which the PDP handed over to the APC at N167 to a dollar, has now collapsed to a dismal and all-time low of N557 to a dollar under the APC.”
The PDP called on the National Assembly to save the nation by rising above partisan sentiments, “to reject this latest request by President Buhari for a fresh foreign loan.”
The PDP also urged the National Assembly to immediately commence an open investigative hearing on all the loans collected by President Buhari especially with allegations that such loans were being diverted to the personal pockets of APC leaders, the cabal in the Presidency as well as APC government functionaries and their cronies.
Chuks Okocha and Deji Elumoye in Abuja