BY TONY EDIKE
ENUGU – CONFERENCE of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Monday, expressed concern over the country’s rising debt profile, in spite of unprecedented revenue being raked from oil and gas, taxation and custom duties.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the CNPP said it is “enraged that President Goodluck Jonathan regime is rapidly rail-roading Nigeria back into Debt Trap” even with huge revenue being generated from various sources.
The group recalled that when in 2006 Nigeria doled out $12.4 billion, which could have been used to provide electricity, to pay the odious Paris and London clubs’ loan, “we rejected it and was assured by the present Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, that Nigeria is out of the debt trap, especially when we pointed out that the loans she paid for were fraudulent loans obtained through corrupt and unjust methods by unconscionable military dictatorship.
”Unconscionable in the sense that 75 per cent of the 63 projects upon which the loans were borrowed failed.”
As ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo admitted in the House of Representatives in 2005, the CNPP noted “the people who gave the loans knew that the money was not being well spent wisely. Perhaps they even took their own cut. Yet the ordinary people of Nigeria have to pay back the loan.”
The CNPP also recalled that Jeffrey Sachs, Nobel laureate in Economics, had in November 2005 cautioned that “$12 billion in Nigeria would have gone a long way towards saving children, immunis- ation, healthcare, all kind of things.
Nigeria, according to the group now owes $20 bn and N6tn external and internal debts.
“‘Take the oil revenue that you have responsibly been saving up, and instead of investing it in your needs, give it to us. To this I say, ‘Return that money, where it is needed most, not in your coffers?”
The group, therefore, stated that “instead of stemming the pervasive, endemic and monumental corruption going on in the administration; the same minister, who promised that we are out of debt trap should explain the rationale behind the present $9 billion loan approved by the National Assembly and the National Economic Council which will bring the external debt to $20 billion and 6 trillion domestic debt before the end of 2014.
”It is our considered view that Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala may be a round peg in World Bank and IMF round holes; but not in Nigeria’s economic square hole.
”We posit that Dr Iweala’s economic policy of government has no business in business, premised on the private sector driver, and targeted on abstract percentage growth cannot succeed in a primitive economy like Nigeria. There cannot be growth without huge state investment in robust critical infrastructure, as 98% of the so called captains of industry have no factory.
”Otherwise, how come a country which earns annually $20 billion in Oil and Gas revenue, 5 trillion from Federal Inland Revenue Service Tax revenue, over 1 trillion from Customs Duty and $10 billion Excess Crude Account; still record over 70% of her citizenry living below poverty level, over 30% illiterate, live expectancy below 50 years and gross unemployment dislocating families?”
”In sum, those who rail-load Nigeria into Debt Trap, instead of managing our resources prudently; must bear in mind that they are not positively projecting or promoting the health image of the country as a disciplined and organized nation to do business with. Hence Nigeria has no good reason to borrow and in fact should stop borrowing.”
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