Nigeria: COVID-19 - Atiku, PDP Blast Govt Over $6.9bn Loan Bid

Savings, money.
8 April 2020

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku abubakar have berated the Federal Government for seeking a salad of loans and facilities totaling $6.9 billion to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the development, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Diran Odeyemi said: "It is clear that this government is now using the coronavirus pandemic as avenue to make more money for itself. Why do we have to seek foreign loan when the COVID-19 is a global phenomenon? Have they justified how the billions of naira raised so far have been spent?

"Across the country, people are crying of the hunger and hardship occasioned by the lock-down. Food items are not provided and the money they claimed to be sharing to the poorest of the poor is enmeshed in controversy.

"With the way things are going, it may be difficult for this government to implement any development project again. It appears they are going to tell us that they spent the remaining three years fighting the virus."

On his part, Atiku said with prioritization of projects, cutting of wastage and good hands running the affairs of the nation, Nigeria does not need foreign loans to wriggle out of the prevailing situation.

Atiku urged Nigeria and other African countries to look inward and take their destinies in their hands to combat the spreading pandemic.

Noting that foreign help was out of reach because they have pressing challenges on account of the prevailing pandemic, Atiku said we must avoid panic, cut cost, and efficiently manage our resources.

It's delusory to borrow $6.9 billion now

He said, "As it stands today, the world is too preoccupied with its challenges to prioritise Africa, and so we have to prioritise ourselves. The issue of Nigeria wanting to borrow $6.9 billion at this time shows the almost delusory state of our government. No one has that type of money to throw about.

"China and America, previously our two largest creditors, have taken hits to their economies to the tune of trillions of dollars. If they could, they would consider taking from us at this stage.

"Why is it that the Nigerian government is always quick to want to borrow at every instance? It shows a lazy mindset and an inability to take those sacrifices necessary to get the economy into shape. Worse still it proves that we do not, as of yet, have the ability to think outside the box for genuine solutions. We cannot be looking to borrow huge sums at the same time our officials are taking delivery of foreign made luxury cars. We cannot be considered a serious country when we refuse to cut down on profligacy and instead seek outside help to fund our inefficiencies.

"Even in our own individual houses, when things get tight, the first thing we should do is cut down on unnecessary expenditure and then you look for creative ways to generate funds and develop our household economy, before we even seek outside funding. A situation where the Nigerian government always seeks outside funding, which, by the way has to be repaid if ever granted, displays an inadequacy in the thinking process of our leaders at the moment."

Foreign help out of reach, we must look inward

"Faced with this crisis, Africa cannot even think of falling back on China, or the West. When a country like the US is struggling to supply its own healthcare workers with personal protective equipment, Africa will not feature high on its priority. Where China is wondering how to explain itself to the world when this dies down, our challenges will be far from their minds. We must fall back on ourselves, or we will fall headlong. We must take responsibility for navigating our way out of a challenge that was forced on us from outside the continent.

"This is the time for every money made in Africa to stay in Africa. We have hospitals to build. We have economies to reboot. We have citizens to care for and return to work. We certainly should not be sending money out of Africa and into Asia and the West. Not now and not for the foreseeable future."

Prioritize projects

On the need to prioritize, he said, "There are two remarkable differences. The first is that we had a stellar cabinet between 1999-2007. We had the right people manning our economy. We certainly would not have proposed to take out a $500 million loan to digitalise the Nigerian Television Authority, or devoted N37 billion to renovating the National Assembly complex, which was built from the scratch at less than 20 percent of that amount.

"Today's Nigerian government is severely lacking in qualified hands. And nothing proves this than the state of the Presidency itself. To think that after devoting N13 billion to the State House Clinic in the last five years, it is virtually useless as we face the most significant public health challenge of our national life. That is a pointer to the state of our federal government," he said.

"However, there are two remarkable differences. The first is that we had a stellar cabinet between 1999-2007. We had the right people manning our economy. We certainly would not have proposed to take out a $500 million loan to digitalise the Nigerian Television Authority, or devoted ¦ 37 billion to renovating the National Assembly complex (which was built from the scratch at less than 20% of that amount).

"The second and perhaps more important thing is that we did not have to deal with a worldwide pandemic of this extent (although we had the H5N1 incident)."

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