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Dons, economists slam Buhari over $29.9bn loan

A cross-section of economists, including university dons from across the country have expressed their displeasure with President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposal to borrow $29.9bn to get Nigeria out of recession, saying it would mortgage the future of coming generations.

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Some of the economists also noted that it was risky for the country to take such a loan as there was no national plan for it.

Buhari had sent a request to the Senate for the approval of external borrowing to the tune of $29.9bn, but the lawmakers voted against the loan request due to technical issues.

However, the Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, recently expressed shock that the request suffered such a setback, while expressing optimism that the issues would be resolved and the request would be represented.

But economists said adding a $29.9bn loan to Nigeria’s debt burden would create problems for future generations.

A professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, Sheriffdeen Tella, described the $29.9bn loan proposal as “no small amount.”

“Moreover, there is no national plan for the loan. There ought to be a long-term national plan on what the loan is meant for. I am not in support of the loan because it will only create problems for the coming generations,” he said.

Prof. Abayomi Adebayo of the Department of Economics, Obafemi Awolowo University, also said he was not in support of “Nigeria taking loans to bail itself out of recession.”

“We are already in a recession and I don’t believe we can go lower than this. I believe that if we confront the situation squarely, we can get out of recession,” he said.

Head, Department of Economics, Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State, Dr. Elizabeth Oloni, and the HOD, Economics, Kwara State University, Prof. Kaita Lansana,  also kicked against the loan proposal, in separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH.

They stated that the loan, if approved and accessed, would mortgage the future of Nigeria.

Oloni said the future generations of Nigeria would not forgive their parents if Buhari took the loan.

Lansana said it would be a risky venture for Nigeria to take the loan.

He stated that with the fall in the prices of crude oil in the global market, Nigeria would be paying so much to service and eventually pay back the loan.

Lansana said, “Government should be trying to get as much money from those who have taken too much money for themselves.

“It is a risky venture at this stage to add to our debt burden,” he said

Also, the Head, Department of Economics, Coal City University, Enugu, Mrs. Ebele Ndubuisi, said the proposed loan would put the country’s future generations in trouble.

“If the Federal Government takes that loan, Nigeria’s future generations will suffer because the burden of the debt will fall on them. The loan will put the future generations in trouble,” Ndubuisi warned.

An economist in Akwa Ibom State, Ime Ekpoattai, asked Nigerians to resist the loan request Buhari made to the National Assembly, saying its burden “will fall on future generations which may last up to 25 years or more.”

Ekpoattai said that experience had shown that previous Nigerian governments failed to use such loans for serious investments.

Similarly, a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Osun State University, Dr. Temitope Akintunde, said government resorted into seeking loans because it was looking for a short route to addressing the economic crisis.

Akintunde said government could also raise fund by looking internally but decided to go for loans, which she described as a quick solution with its own disadvantages.

She said, “Developed countries also borrow but they don’t borrow for recurrent expenditure, they borrow to build infrastructure.”

In Ondo State, Mr. Olusegun Akinwale, a retired banker, also urged the government to look for alternative means of generating money internally rather than obtaining loan, saying there was no need for borrowing as the country has the “resources to generate money.”

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