By Ebele Orakpo
Traffic along the Ikeja-Oshodi road last Monday morning was unusually light most probably due to the public holidays declared by the Federal Government to mark the 2010 May Day which fell on a Saturday.
As the vehicle cruised along, the newscaster on the radio said something about the CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi and the Finance minister, Mr. Olusegun Aganga saying that Nigeria cannot avoid external borrowing; that the Federal Government has no option but to borrow. This expectedly sparked off discussions by the parliamentarians.
First to speak was Yinka who wondered aloud why Nigeria, the 7th largest exporter of crude oil in the world would be going cap in hand to borrow money from the World Bank.
â€œHonestly, I donâ€™t understand it at all. With all the trillions of dollars the government makes, they still go like professional beggars to the World Bank to borrow money. We are still smarting from previous borrowings which the Obasanjo administration paid off and now we are going back to square one with our eyes wide open,â€ stated Yinka.
â€œThere is nothing wrong in borrowing, after all, the United States of America owes. In fact, they are reportedly one of the highest debtors,â€ said Muda.
â€œThat is true. Borrowing money to develop your country and improve the well-being of the citizens is good. Investing such money in profit-making ventures would make the repayment easier. The problem is that in Nigeria, the story is different. Once the money gets into the country, it develops wings and flies into private pockets and then the people are made to suffer as the government uses money meant for infrastructure development and other things to repay the debt,â€ said Gab.
â€You are right. If only they would invest the money in ventures that would benefit the people like job creation, power supply, housing and such things, no right thinking person would complain but a situation where a few kleptomaniacs steal the money and the rest of us made to pay for it is simply unacceptable,â€ said Joe.
â€œItâ€™s so annoying. Other nations borrow and do tangible things with the money. At least even if the US is the greatest debtor, we are all witnesses to what they have been able to achieve in terms of infrastructure, health care, agriculture, power and all other sectors. But tell me, with all the billions and trillions of dollars we have borrowed, what tangible thing can our government point to that they have been able to achieve with the money? We are just moving in circles, no leave, no transfer. As it was in the beginning, so it is now and if care is not taken, so shall it be for ever,â€ stated Muda, visibly angry.
â€œLetâ€™s watch and see. One billion US dollars can achieve a lot if used judiciously. Perhaps, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan can actually bring some changes. Even if it is constant electricity supply, roads and good and affordable housing, Nigerians would be very happy because that would go a long way in alleviating their sufferings. Constant power supply would mean some dead industries coming to life and the unemployed getting jobs. I even heard that countries are scrambling to borrow from the World Bank because the interest rate is between 0.5 and 0.75 per cent which is very cheap, it is long-term as you pay in 40 years with a moratorium of 10 years and it is also concessionary,â€ noted Yinka.
â€œBros, all that na grammar. All we ask is that the money be spent on what is it borrowed for, period. No long grammar,â€ concluded Gab.