By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, Thursday, called on National Assembly to halt approval of President Muhammadu Buhari’s $5.513 billion external borrowing request.
This call was made in an exclusive interview with Vanguard by the Executive Director, SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, while speaking on why the National Assembly leadership should not use N27 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex while the welfare and well-being of Nigerians are in deplorable condition.
According to Mumumi, SERAP has repeatedly stated and asked for is that in a situation and in an environment where salaries of present workers cannot be paid effectively, pensions not been paid as at when due, where the economic life of Nigerians has been seriously hampered and Armstrong they believe that spending N27 billion for the renovation of National Assembly which is not in serious dilapidation is uncalled, therefore should not be done in the present time Nigerians are in, where people are facing health and economic emergencies, and other infrastructural deficits which should be taken care of.
So that is the reason why we say this N27bn that is earmarked by the National Assembly for the renovation of the National Assembly complex is totally uncalled for that is our position.
He said: “The external borrowing by the federal government does not make an economic sense since it is not for infrastructural development in critical sectors of the economy that would benefit Nigerians now and those unborn.
“What is basic economics that you should borrow for are matters that should pay for themselves. You don’t borrow to finance inanities and then elephant matters. When you want to borrow you can borrow to finance infrastructure which will be for the benefit of the people eventually.
“You can borrow to finance education which should be for the benefit of the people subsequently; you can borrow to finance health which will be for the benefit of the people subsequently.
“You cannot borrow for the payment of emoluments and allowances. That is not sound economics. So that is the way we see it.
“They should halt it. When you want to borrow the money you should borrow money for things that will last, that will pay for itself; you can borrow to build a hospital, finance education, those are infrastructural issues which the people need, and to finance allowances because that does not make sense economically.
“The government has taken a wrong decision so far the government wants to go borrow to finance what will not directly benefit Nigerians is uncalled.”
On support from Nigerians for SERAP’s anti-corruption stand
“We will do our own bit and the best thing for Nigerians to move and continue to demand consistently and persistently from their government what is valuable in their best interest.
“Nigerians should not keep quiet. SERAP is just an organization, we cannot take on this battle except we see the support of Nigerian people but we will continue to do our own bit so that when the roll call is made as to what was done when Nigeria was floundering then historians mention in the best light. That is the best we can do. My appeal to Nigerians is that things cannot be this way and they keep quiet, they should not.”
On Edo/Ondo Governorship Elections
“About the coming elections, I believe that ground should be prepared so that the elections are held in a healthy and conducive environment. That is the best government can do for citizens of Edo and Ondo States.
“So now to disregard whatever warning being given by health authorities or that will not be in the health best interest for the people of Edo and Ondo States that would not be fair to me.
“So let science guide the conduct of the election so that we will have the election in a healthy environment, an atmosphere that is conducive to human safety. Anything short of a healthy and conducive environment the elections should be suspended.”