Tinubu seeks fresh $8.699bn, €100m loans

•Ex-MAN chief urges FG to manage cost of governance

From Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

Barely one month after seeking approval for $7.8 billion and €100 million loans from the National Assembly, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, again yesterday, asked for fresh foreign loans of $8.699 billion and €100 million.

This was revealed in separate letters written to the two chambers of the National Assembly by the president.

According to Tinubu, the loans if approved, would be used for road construction, provision of infrastructure, agriculture and food security.

In the letters read by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Tajudeen Abbas, at plenary, the president said the loans were part of the 2022-2024 external borrowing plan of the Federal Government and asked for their speedy consideration and approval to enable him expedite action.

The loan request is also coming barely 24 hours to the presentation of a N26 trillion national budget to a joint session of the National Assembly.

The letter read: “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached Federal Government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval of the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects.

“The Senate may wish to note that the past administration approved a 2022-2024 borrowing plan by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) held on May 15, 2023.

“The project cuts across all sectors, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management reforms.

“Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8,699,168,559 and €100 million.

“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the social economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.

“Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy it has become necessary for the senate to consider and approve the 2022- 2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.” In a related development, the president, in separate letters formally notified the lawmakers of his intention to present the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly today.

He explained that the fresh loans, part of which would be sourced from the World Bank and the African Development Bank( AfDB), would be deployed towards the funding of critical infrastructural projects in power, railway, and health among others.

The letter to the House read in part: “Honourable members may wish to know that the past administration approved the 2022 -2024 borrowing plan at the Federal Executive Council held on May 15, 2023. “The projects cut across sectors with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation, as well as financial management, among others.

“Following the removal of fuel subsidy and its attendant impact on our economy, the African Development Bank and the World bank group have indicated interest to assist the country to mitigate the impact with $1billion and $1.5 billion, respectively, in addition to the FEC’s approved 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan.

Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8, 699, 168, 559, and 100 million euros.

“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical economic evaluation;  as well as the expected contribution to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation, skills acquisition, support towards the emergence of young entrepreneurs, poverty reduction and food security, to improve the livelihood in all the 36 states and the FCT.

“Considering the huge infrastructure deficit in the country, and the enormous financial resources required to bridge the gap in funding infrastructure in the face of dwindling financial resources, it has become imperative that we resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financial gap; which will be largely applied to key infrastructure projects, including power, railway, and health among others.

“Given the nature of these facilities and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary to request the House of Representatives to consider and approve the 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan, to enable the government deliver its responsibilities to Nigerians, through expedient disbursement and efficient project implementation.”

Meanwhile, former chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Apapa branch Dr  Frank Onyebu,  has urged the Federal Government to be thinking about managing the cost of governance instead of taking fresh loans. 

He said “Let us see what we can do with the revenue we are generating and let us cut our coat according to our cloak. Our government has accumulated so much debts most of which are not even put into areas that will generate fresh income. At this stage, we should not be borrowing for consumption and this is exactly what has pushed us to the stage or situation where we are now.’ He advised.

According to him, “I don’t think this is the right time to start taking fresh borrowings, we need to think about what we can do to generate fresh income and if in the future we want to borrow any money, we need to put it in into productive use”.

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