Though it’s clearly written on the terms and condition of collecting the COVID-19 loan that beneficiaries are to pay back the money over a certain period of time stipulated by the federal government, many Nigerians are yet to believe it’s a loan not a gift.
To the best of my knowledge, President Buhari implemented and approved the COVID-19 loan so as to serve as means of employment and also to cushion the predicaments of the less privileged whom business affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, at the same time to alleviate poverty and reduce the number of unemployed youths.
Unfortunately, some people perceived it this way, saying it’s a gift not loan and have refused to utilize the money wisely. Hmm! The COVID-19 loan is a loan not a gift as already provided. Many people benefited while some are yet to benefit from the scheme. Some people collected above N500,000 depending on the amount sought.
My concern here is, it wouldn’t be a problem even if it’s a gift and not a loan but why not use the money judiciously? Most beneficiaries are living from hand to mouth and majority of them are jobless. So, now that government is giving them a loan or gift to engage in business and avoid being idle, they end up spending it imprudently.
The funniest part is, some Nigerians say it was Abacha loot that Buhari is distributing to them in such a way, and therefore, is a gift. In fact there is lot of confusion because I wonder if the nation’s economy can guarantee giving such huge amount of money to every Nigerian while running in a bad shape.
Talking about the COVID-19 loan, I don’t think if those benefited from the scheme can pay back the money because the money has already been used extravagantly. Most of these beneficiaries believed that Buhari is their guarantor and will be held responsible if they refuse to repay the money.
Therefore, government should critically look at this issue and find the way forward before some people disappear with people’s money. The money belongs to every Nigerian and it’s just been given as loan but if it’s a gift, then every Nigerian must be given because he/she has share in the nation’s wealth.
Department of Mass Communication,
University of Maiduguri