Organised labour has expressed worry over the country’s rising debt profile, stating that the impact of the loans is not visible in the provision of infrastructure and jobs.
Speaking under the umbrella of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), the union maintained that the nation can be free from the huge debt trap only if its crude oil earnings are judiciously utilised.
National President of the union, Mr. Bala Kaigama, who expressed this view in Lagos, said “the union is not interested in what the loan being sought is to be used for because there is nothing on ground to show for it other than corruption and mismanagement of resources.”
Specifically, he explained that the Nigerians have not benefited from the huge loans, adding that the structures built by loans such as the steel plants, fertiliser, petrochemical and paper plants have all collapsed.
He called on the legislative arm of government not to stop at merely criticising the borrowing plan, but protect the coming generation by forbidding new loans under any guise and insist on prudent management of our resources through diligent oversight. He also called on well-meaning Nigerians, including the labour movement, to reject the loan move, adding that keeping quiet may translate into mortgaging the future of the unborn children.
“Not too long ago, between 2005 and 2006, this country was saved from the negative experiences and backlash of debt overhang of about $35 billion with its attendant debt repayment that became doubtful at a stage. Under the debt buy back deal, Nigeria paid $12 billion to secure about $186 debt write-off from the Paris Club group of creditors.
“It is however shocking that less than 6 years after this landmark achievement, the country has started to pile up debt once again. We are worried that with the way things are going, we will soon be back in the forest of mounting debts that may this time around consume the entire country.
“We have been reading in the papers that the country is now negotiating a new debt deal of about $7.46. The current IMF Report reveals that for every N100 Nigeria spends as service, about N80 goes into private pockets. It has also been established that the country’s budget in one year is what South Africa; the leading economy in Africa spends in five years.
“In other countries, the impact of foreign loans is visible in the provision of infrastructure and jobs. This Union is not interested in what the loan being sought is to be used for because there is nothing on ground to show that what we earn daily from crude oil sales is being judiciously utilised,” he said.
Speaking further, the union boss explained that the “melodrama” which played out during the presentation of the report of Nuhu Ribadu- led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force has once again confirmed the widely held view that government is paying lip service to the vexed issue of corruption.
“There are several other issues raised by the Committee which to us should not be swept under the carpet. We commend the President for agreeing to set up White Paper Committee on the Ribadu Report in spite of pressures from powerful quarters to dump the Report.
“We remain hopeful that the Committee will not leave out any detail as regards those found to have defrauded the country and that government would rise up to the occasion by ensuring that anyone or organisation found wanting is punished. This is the only way Nigerians can be convinced that the Federal Government is serious about its much avowed claim of fighting corruption,” he added.