The Federal Government on Monday disclosed that it has suspended its $22.7 billion external borrowing plans due to current realities in the global economic landscape.
Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, who made this known in Abuja said the current market indices do not support external borrowings at the moment.
Speaking at the 2020 International Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market, organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the minister stated that the government would not go ahead with the borrowing programme even if it secures the approval of the National Assembly.
The finance minister explained that the decision of the government to suspend the borrowing was due to the fact that market indices do not support external borrowings at the moment.
She said, “The parliament is still doing its work on the borrowing plan. One arm of the parliament has completed theirs and the other arm is still working and it is a process that is controlled by the parliament itself, so we are waiting.
“However, we are not going out immediately because the market indication is not in favour of external borrowing at this time. Even if we get approvals we will defer it and watch the market and go out only when the timing is right.”
She explained that the Federal Government was not relenting on its plans to diversify the country’s economy, noting that unfolding events of the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price war, had further reinforced the resolve to diversify the national economy.
She disclosed that the current challenges in the global economy had brought to the fore the need for the country to develop a non-oil attitude to everything.
According to her, the Federal Government planned to prioritise expenditure in favour of major capital expenditures that would have greater impact, and which would create job and visibility and also enhance the ease of doing business in the country.
She noted that expenditures that are not critical must be deferred to a later date when things become more normal.
Meanwhile, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on Monday dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, and lenders to court over the $22.7 billion loan request made by the president.
The coalition has also warned the leaders, especially China, African Development Banks, and other foreign partners against granting the Federal Government the $22.7 billion loan request.
The CUPP urged the Federal High Court to stop President Buhari from borrowing or accessing the loan.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the spokesman of the CUPP, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, warned leaders to halt any approval or disbursement or risk losing their money in view of the pending case.
The CUPP also berated the Senate for approving the loan request even without seeing the breakdown of the loan expenses as required by law.
Expressing concern over the loan, Ugochinyere said the request is to sink Nigeria into economic slavery and financial colonialism.
He said: “The Nigerian opposition coalition (CUPP), acting through one of the registered political parties/coalition member, has just commenced a legal offensive to stop the proposed borrowing of the sum of $22.7 billion by the Buhari government and also written to all the lenders to halt the loan request action. in view of the pending legal
“The loan being sourced from various international lenders is viewed by the opposition as a poorly executed plan to sell Nigeria into economic slavery and financial colonialism for which Nigeria was redeemed by the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
“We declare that the loan request by the president is the greatest singular act of disservice any leader could have done to this country.
“The loan request is riddled with project lopsidedness, lack of financial prudence, secrecy, plan to use loan for frivolous projects, over costing of projects, corruption, misapplication and incompetence.
“Nigerians must know that of this loan, consultants are expected to take an alleged whopping 40% of the loan while projects are to purportedly take the remaining 60%.”
Explaining why they decided to head to court, the spokesman alleged that the money was being sourced to prosecute the 2023 general elections and not for infrastructural development which it shoddily presented to the National Assembly.
The CUPP also appealed to the House of Representatives not to approve the loan being sought by President Buhari, saying the loan had dire future consequences on Nigeria and its citizens.
The coalition urged the lenders to realise Buhari had just three years to be in power, adding that the next administration would be controlled by the opposition and would not honour the loan request and its repayment if it was granted to the government through process not transparent.
Berating the Senate, the CUPP said: “We, therefore, condemn the rubber stamp leadership of the Senate for forcing through the approval of the loan by the Senate even when senators had not seen the breakdown of the loan expenses as required by law.
“The Senate leadership has clearly and unambiguously shown it is not on the side of the people and it is not representing the Nigerian people but their selfish interest.
“Their unpatriotic stand on national issues and lack of vision has become all the more apparent and has turned the Senate into a chamber filled by political Allelluya boys.
“The exchange rate of the dollars due to certain vagaries, including gross mismanagement of our economy, is now chasing N400 to a dollar.
“This means that at this rate, the $22.7 billion foreign loan will be equivalent of N9,080,000,000,000.
“This is more than the entire 2019 budget and just a little less than the entire 2020 budget. How can a government borrow its entire budget yet citizens are in doubt as to the contents of the loan package?
“This loan request is the height of Buhari’s APC led government’s insensitivity, irresponsibility, and wickedness.
“Both indigenous and foreign experts have pointed out the unsustainable trajectory of our country’s debt with the current upswing in borrowings, Nigerians will one day wake up to find that they are now tenants in their own houses.
“The Muhammadu Buhari regime would have sold our dear country to China and some nations in Europe.
“The opposition cannot sit and watch Buhari squander our present and our children’s future.
“Our nation’s leaders worked hard to clear Nigeria’s foreign debt after the return of democracy in 1999 and opposition would not allow any government to plunge Nigeria back into another debt.
“It has become manifestly clear to the Nigerian people that what our President Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) needs ideas and competent hands and not the $22.7 billion foreign loan request.
“The problem with Nigeria is not lack of money but lack of governance capacity in the regime which from all available indices has made our economy worse, security precarious, and life very cheap.
“This regime is indeed a disaster. It is peopled by political alleluia boys. We warned of the lack of capacity by the APC and their master whose idea of koboko economics is now outdated.
“It is a government high in sound but empty in ideas parading students of home economics who grandstand as world class economists.
“We have a government that is more interested in its uninhibited quest for power and holding unto power than knowing what to do with the power for the benefit of the people.
“After hijacking the Parliament, emasculating the judiciary and crushing the electoral process, Nigerians are now faced with the consequences of a regime that is hustling like traders in Alaba market for Chinese and other foreign loans.
“Nigeria has now been thrown into a state of economic hiatus and quagmire. This is a loan bazaar, a frivolous borrowing, unsustainable come and chop and modern day slavery.
“Unemployment, insecurity, crushing debt burden, unbridled corruption, emasculation of government institutions, impunity etc are now the order of the day.”