By Yusufu Shehu Usman
There is so much controversy surrounding Mr President’s letter to the Senate seeking approval for foreign loan facilities to fund essential and critical Infrastructure in some selected but Important sectors of the economy
I am not an economist but I am not ignorant or oblivious of the popular and widely acclaimed maxim that no nation can develop above the level of it’s Infrastructure and this also applies to the Nigerian nation
It would be recalled that the same request was presented to the last Senate under the leadership of Bukola Saraki but was rejected except for a few items contained in the request which the Senate then, grudgingly passed
The last Senate to the best of my knowledge did not advance sound or convincing reasons for it’s refusal to assent to Mr President’s request as presented
As a result, many people believed not without some justification that the eighth Senate was only vindictive in view of the frosty relationship between the Senate and the Presidency at that material time, which relationship was characterised by mutual distrust and friction based only on political considerations and not the over all interest of the people
The President has now made the same request to the current Senate for consideration and approval
The relationship between this Senate and the Presidency is cordial and smooth but not based on subservience or a kind of Master- Servant relationship.
For the wheels of democracy to roll smoothly for the benefit and in the interest of the people, there must be synergy, rapport and good understanding among these two arms of government
It is pertinent to observe that those who do not appear to be in support of the Senate’s approval of Mr President’s request are predicating their argument mainly on three planks
The first is that Nigeria has already over borrowed and it will put a heavy burden on future generations whose responsibility it will be In the main, to pay back the loan
The second limb of the argument is that we can fund the projects listed in the request through internal sources if we properly harness and prudently manage our resources
The third and very instructive ground is the assertion which can be couched in the form of a question:.what is the safe guard or guarantee that the loan if approved, would be used for the purposes intended?
No right thinking Nigerian with a sense of history and purpose will dismiss these reasons with the wave of the hand. We have actually lived the many experiences of these fears in the past and we should be forewarned and critical of there re occurrence now and in the future
However, the fact still remains that we can not deny that we have huge and wide infrastructure deficit in the most critical sectors of our economy which we must address, if the nation is to advance developmentally and stand on it’s feet economically.
The request seeks to fill the existing infrastructure gap in the power, energy and transportation sectors among others.
These are projects with a long span that can outlive our present generation and lay the foundation for improvement by the generations yet to come.
It is therefore a liability the benefit of which extends from this generation to the next
I don’t think that it is wrong to incur such a mutually beneficial liability, the service of which is the responsibility of the common or joint beneficiaries today and tomorrow
It is a fact generally accepted across all nations of the world that the best way to fund major developmental projects is through the instrumentality of external borrowing. It is the case even with the most developed economies like the United States of America, Europe and China to mention a few
The problem with the third world countries in this regard is the fear of Corruption and mismanagement of such facilities.
Often, the proceeds are diverted to purposes unconnected with the intended projects and a good chunk of it goes to private pockets of Politicians and other government officials charged with the responsibility of managing the projects and the funds
This is the actual fear . The critical question we must answer in this regard is how can the government allay this genuine fear of the public and dispel the strong speculation that the loans if incurred by this government will not go the way of previous governments?
In my view the answers lie in the way the Buhari Administration is fighting Corruption and reducing its devastating effects on the public service
This government more than any previous to it, has demonstrated clear, dogged and genuine intention and manifest determination to fight Corruption and rot in the system and the results of these efforts are visible to all objective and discerning minds
I believe that we can trust the Buhari Administration to ensure that the foreign loans if approved, will be properly and trustfully, disbursed and managed for the good of this and future generations.
The PMB government since it’s inception in 2015 has not established the reputation of diversion of funds meant for developmental projects to sources unrelated to purpose.
The government has kept faith to a very great extent with the Principles of transparency and accountability in project management and financial prudence in the execution of projects
It is fighting Corruption and blocking many loop holes in the system that encourage corrupt practices. It is recovering funds looted from the public Treasury and ploughing it back to the government coffers for people oriented projects
I believe that the Buhari government has curved for itself the niche and the credible pedigree to earn our trust and confidence on it’s ability, capacity and accountability in the delivery of it’s mandate and on the proper deployment, protection and management of our resources, including those we will borrow from foreign parties to boost our development.
It is for the above stated reasons that i lend my support for the approval by the Senate of the pending request from Mr President for foreign loan facilities to fund critical Infrastructure and set Nigeria on the path of growth and sustainable development