Chairman Senate Committee on Army Ali Ndume has counselled the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration against using foreign loans to finance recurrent expenditure like salaries and overhead.
The lawmaker, who represents Borno South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, stated this Sunday in a statement, to commemorate June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day.
As at the end of the first quarter of 2021, the nation’s debt profile stands N33.10 trillion, a development that has remained a source of worry for Nigerians at both the high and low places.
The figure is an increase of N191billion, thus shooting it up from the N32.91trillion as at December 2020.
Just last Wednesday, the Debt Management Office (DMO), said the figures include the debt stock of the federal, state governments and that of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
Sounding some warning, however, the former Senate Leader, Senator Ndume said, there was absolutely nothing wrong with a country taking foreign loans but that such should be spent to boost agriculture and the revival o moribund industries.
Ndume also said the loans meant to provide infrastructure should be obtained from international lending agencies with favourable terms.
The lawmaker further advised government to ensure that roads infrastructure were made to generate revenue by erecting toll plazas on them.
“Concerning the issue of foreign loan borrowings, the problem is not about borrowing because the idea is not bad. Even developed nations also do the same thing. It is what the government do with the money that is important.
“The concentration on infrastructural development by the Buhari administration, especially in the area of railway and road infrastructure is commendable.
“The Federal Government should look at the possibility of borrowing for agricultural development so that our people will move from subsistence farming to a mechanised one.
“If that is achieved, it will generate employment and guarantee food security. Also, there would be no need for Nigeria to spend foreign exchange on food importation. We can produce all types of food in Nigeria only if the farmers are well funded.
“The borrowings should be spent on purchase of farm implements and other farming machinery and make it available to farmers.
“The external loans should also be used to fund moribund industries, especially textile and spare part manufacturing among others. It is only through that the government can guarantee borrowings because the manufacturing industries will come up again through the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.
“The government can serve as a guarantee for the loans so that MAN would coordinate the process of resuscitating the moribund industries that had been closed down.
“The loans should be borrowed from the international lending agencies whose terms are very good in order to develop our road infrastructure and mount toll plazas in order to generate revenue to pay back the loans.
“Borrowings should not be made to defray recurrent expenditure like payment of salaries and overhead costs. Funding for such purposes should be sourced locally from taxes and other internally generated revenues,” he said.
The lawmaker commended the Buhari administration for the move to fund the nation’s security and military services for the purpose of tackling insecurity.
Ndume said: “On the issue of insecurity, I have been advocating an increase in the military funding but that has now been done by the recent submission of the supplementary budget of over N800bn by the executive arm of government to the National Assembly.
“Majority of the money is meant to address the security challenges in the country. This is a commendable effort by President Buhari.
“With this now, there is light at the end of the tunnel because if the materials and necessary military hardware and equipment are immediately purchased, and handed over to the military, I am sure that the Nigerian Army who are known for their gallantry in international assignments will be able to do more to defend the internal security challenges confronting Nigeria.”
While congratulating Nigerians on the commemoration of the June 12 as Democracy Day, the lawmaker “commend the President, Muhammadu Buhari, for his decision to be speaking out to Nigerians because the people have been eager and worried over his continued silence on critical national issues in recent times.
“Many Nigerians are now happy that their President has started talking to them once again. I therefore encourage him to be doing that intermittently, if possible, on quarterly basis.”