Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has raised the alarm over the huge loan acquisition by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government which he said had already hit N5.4 trillion.
He warned that if care is not taken, such borrowing could take Nigeria back to the ignoble days of staggering foreign debt burden.
The Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, had said the federal government would borrow N1. 25 trillion and N1.06 trillion as domestic and foreign loans to finance the 2017 budget deficit.
Udoma dismissed fears of a resurgence of debt burden, insisting that with the current drive to increase revenue from tax, such loans can easily be managed.
â€œCurrently, our total debt is about N19 trillion which is less than 20 per cent of GDP which is quite moderate, so we donâ€™t have a debt problem,â€ the minister said.
However, in an interview with THISDAY at the weekend, Ihedioha said he heard it on good authority that the APC administration had since it took over governance of the country, continued to borrow huge amount of money, mainly from the Chinese government to the tune of N5.4 trillion.
â€œI understand that the APC-led federal government has borrowed about N5.4 trillion since it came into office in May 2015. This is staggering and alarming. It is disastrous for our economy. This act of theirs perhaps will take us back many years from where we have been trying to exit, where past administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo tried to exit us from debt burden,â€ he explained.
Ihedioha who was the PDP governorship candidate for Imo State in the 2015 elections, said it remains doubtful if adequate attention were given to the expected deliverables before such loans were approved.
â€œIt is unfortunate and regrettable that the National Assembly is granting these executive requests that are just mindless. Borrowing money left, right and centre from China? I donâ€™t think the contents of these loans are for the benefit of the people.
â€œI hope they are conscious that people will ask questions one day. I hope they are conscious of the fact that this money is grant but debts. It appears to me that people are not taking time to reflect on these actions. It is my true believe that when Nigerians wake up from their slumber they will not be reluctant to flush out the APC administration,â€ he said
On the promise made by the federal government that the country will exit recession by the end of the third quarter, Ihedioha said he remained doubtful if such target would be achieved.
â€œWhich quarter are we now, I think we should be asking the relevant authorities this question. May be something will happen by the end the quarter, letâ€™s wait and see,â€ he said.