Dirisu Yakubu – Abuja
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar flayed President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for its perchance for borrowing to fund the nation’s budgets.
Atiku in a piece titled: “Endless borrowing will lead to the endless sorrowing,” and made available to journalists on Tuesday, particularly faulted the President’s budget performance since assuming office in 2015, saying the fact that recurrent expenditure outweighed capital expenditures is an indication that the country is not moving in the right direction.
He said: “I have said it time and again. The business of government is too serious to be left in the hands of politicians. We must all ask questions because if they throw away the future, it is not going to be their future they are throwing away, it will be all our futures.
“The fact that Nigeria currently budgets more money for debt servicing (₦2.7 trillion), than we do on capital expenditure (₦2.4 trillion) is already an indicator that we have borrowed more money than we can afford to borrow. And the thing is that debt servicing is not debt repayment. Debt servicing just means that we are paying the barest minimum allowable by our creditors.
Continuing, the PDP chieftain quoted John Quincy Adams as saying that “there are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt,” adding that “he may have very well been referring to Nigeria of the last three years.”
Atiku added: “Barely two weeks ago, I warned during my Founder’s Day lecture at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, that Nigeria had taken almost as much foreign debt in the last three years, as she had taken in the 30 years before 2015 combined. Now that is frightening and very true.
“Frightening, not just because of the amount, but because after such unprecedented borrowing, we have emerged as the world headquarters for extreme poverty and the global capital for out of school children. It begs the question: what were the funds used for?
“And while spending 50 percent of our current revenue on debt servicing, this administration wants to take further loans of $29.6 billion! To say that this is irresponsible is itself an understatement.
“As a businessman, one of the very first things I learnt is that you do not take loans except you are expanding your business. Even as an individual, when your income cannot fund your lifestyle, you are challenged to grow your income, not your borrowings.
“Even if this administration borrows $1 trillion, it will never be enough because their challenge is one of capacity. They are not using the funds they already have wisely. They do not need more debt. They need more intellectual capacity.
“The money the Muhammadu Buhari administration wants to borrow to fund its Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) could be acquired without sinking the nation into further debt. All it requires is visionary leadership and business acumen.