By LEVI NWABUGHIOGU
ABUJA— Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Dr. Abdulmumini Jibrin, said yesterday that the Federal Government spends N600 billion annually to service local debts owed banks.
Jibrin made the revelation at the 2013 international youth day public lecture organised by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, in Abuja.
Jubrin, who delivered a lecture, entitled “Nigeria at 53: The Role and Challenges of Legislators in Making the Nation’s Youth Resourceful and Self-Reliant”, said a situation where the Federal Government borrowed all the money available in the banks made it difficult for youths of productive ages to source for loans from commercial banks because of high interest rate caused by government borrowing.
He said: “Last year, the deficit was so large because what the executive arm of government does is that in budget deficit, they borrow money from domestic banks to balance their budget and we said, increase the benchmark.
“If you increase the oil benchmark, you will not have to borrow so much money from banks. In simple mathematics, when the government goes and borrows all the money available in the commercial banks, private people that want to set up business will have no more money to borrow. It is simple economics.
“So, we said, government, get out of the domestic market and develop a four year plan that will help them to equip the domestic market in 2016. But they will not take that. You know why? They are bunch of lazy people.
“What they do is to wait for government to borrow and give government double digit interest rate. This is how they make their money.
“Last year, we put pressure on the executive, on the Minister of Finance, to tell us how much it costs to service domestic debts , they brought out the figure two weeks ago; about N600 billion was used to service domestic debts, N600 billion shared to domestic banks.
“So, we need to adjust that structure in such a way that the government will exit domestic market so that the commercial banks will be able to give money to young people starting up business.”
Jubril identified leadership, education, health, agriculture, empowerment programmes, oversight function and political participation as the major roles of legislators in creating conducive atmosphere for the youth to realize their full potentials and contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.
He bemoaned the current decay in the educational sector, noting that the non-challant attitude of stakeholders who now sought education of their wards in private schools as the reason for the abysmal collapse of public schools.
He said the problem with the sector was not insufficient funds or demands by the academic staff of the universities but culture of corruption by the political class.
He said: “Year after year, what we talk about in education is that there is no sufficient money. No body is talking about the solution to education crisis in Nigeria. What education institution needs in Nigeria today is not pumping in more money.
“The money that is being allocated year after year in that sector is sufficient enough to give far higher result than the result we are getting at the moment. But for economic, social, political reasons, bad leadership, successive administrations, so many things, the educational system has been destroyed completely.
“I have never attended a private school all my life, from primary to the university until when I got into business. Now, look at the the quantity of the money we put outside to send our children abroad. Now, what I discovered and this is an idea, I am going to bring to the public is that public officers and political office holders do not care about public school any longer; no one cares.
“You know what we need to do; a terrible situation needs a drastic solution. There is a bill that went to the Senate, it couldn’t pass second reading. We are working on that Bill with like minds and we will take it back to the floor of the House.
“Let’s do our own beats. If Nigerians support us, fine. The major element of that Bill is that all public servants from a particular rank, political office holders, directors, permanent secretaries, ministers, advisers, members of the House of Representatives, senators, commissioners in the state, State Assembly members, speakers of State Assemblies, governors, all our kids will have to do their primary school, secondary schools, first degrees in public schools in Nigeria. I just pray that this Bill goes through. Let’s take our kids to public schools; they will not die.”