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Afenifere urges NASS to stop loans approval for Buhari

Pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has asked the National Assembly to stop approving loan requests by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

The group in a statement issued on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi, warned the two arms of government against turning Nigeria into a perpetual debtor-nation.

Afenifere said Nigeria had become a country where security and welfare of citizens go down while debt profile continues to increase. It added that the more money borrowed by the government, the poorer the people have become.

Afenifere cited several instances of loans being borrowed by the administration of President Buhari and expressed dismay over the disclosure by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and the Debt Management Office (DMO) that as much as 74 per cent of the country’s earnings go into debt servicing.

It stated that the DMO which is a federal government agency handling various debts by the government disclosed that as at September, 2021, Nigeria’s public debt was N38.005 trillion and has not stopped rising.

Afenifere said, “The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan’s earlier vow that the National Assembly would continue to approve loan requests made by President Buhari.

“But the quantum of debts incurred by this administration does not reflect in the quantity and quality of infrastructural developments in the country.

“Neither is it reflecting in the living standard of Nigerians. As a matter of fact, it looks as if the more Nigeria is sinking into the debt dungeon, the more the standard of living goes down. It is apparent that the more money Nigeria earns along with monies being obtained in form of loans and grants, the more the welfare of Nigerians suffer.”

While alluding to the announced N250 billion to be borrowed from World Bank ‘to solve environmental degradation in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Afenifere maintained that states in the Southern part of the country deserve attention too.

“When we talk of environmental degradation, it is a known fact that a lot of places particularly in the South-East and South-South have been rendered almost useless by incessant erosion. Such places equally deserve similar attention.

“Reports have quoted the Coordinator of Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project, Salisu Dahiru, as saying that the project for which the said loan was being sought is “to address the issue and challenges of environmental degradation in terms of deforestation, erosion, store water management and meeting the needs of the people in terms of food production,” it said, adding that all the points raised to justify the project equally apply to the South.

“Other than desertification that is greater in the North leading to poor water storage, all other issues mentioned equally apply to the South.

“There, however, is no doubt that the activities of bandits and terrorists are far more responsible for the inadequate food production in the North and even in the South Western parts of the country in recent times. Meaning that if terrorism was not brought to an end, the loan committed to such a project in the North might just go down the drain as it may not achieve the announced reasons for obtaining it.

“Beyond the issue of the propriety or non-propriety of the said project, Ajayi insisted that the government should stop its tendency to go aborrowing each time it thinks of executing a project.

“Where do monies being generated from local and other foreign sources go? What about several billions recovered from corrupt public officials as announced at various times by this administration? Apart from regular payment of salaries, where do these monies go?,” It said.

The group said that the questions were germane in view of the failure of the government to fulfill even the agreements it freely entered into such as the ones with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress and others.

“We need to remember that most of the major projects being executed especially in the transport sector are being financed by loans. So, again, where are the monies being earned locally and from foreign transactions going into?.

“Afenifere demanded adding that these questions are warranted because of the suspicion that corruption is very much at play under this administration that touted the fighting of corruption as one of its cardinal objectives of coming into power,” the group further added.

Speaking further on the lopsidedness nature of projects and appointments being made by Buhari administration, Afenifere asked the federal government to explain why Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, a Northerner, would be the one to succeed Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman and Mr. Habib Abdullah, both of whom are northerners, as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

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