When a Beggar Begs a Beggar

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THE ALTERNATIVE With Reno Omokri

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Nigeria is broke. This use to be said in whispers. But no more. It is now a case of ‘go tell it on the mountains’! Whereas, in the last few months it was opposition politicians telling it, now, no less an institution but the Central Bank of Nigeria is telling it.

On Thursday, November 5, 2020, the CBN, in its half-year 2020 economic report, said “despite the subsisting revenue challenge, which was exacerbated by COVID-19, the larger proportion of FGN revenue was devoted to debt service.”

In fact, the CBN was just conservative as usual. The truth is more alarming than the picture the CBN painted.
According to the CBN, as at the end of June 2020, Nigeria had spent N1.5 trillion on debt servicing. Let that sink in.
That is more than we have spent on capital expenditure and education combined, in the same time frame.

And the worst is yet to come because General Buhari’s government is still borrowing at a record-breaking pace, meaning that debt will keep going up, which will translate in ever-increasing debt servicing (not repayment) figures.
When former President Jonathan handed over power to General Buhari on May 29, 2015, Nigeria’s total debt (both foreign and domestic) was $11 billion. It is now $34 billion and rising fast.

Where has that money gone? What tangible things does Nigeria have to show for that money? Out of school children have increased in Northern Nigeria since Buhari has not built new Almajiri schools after Jonathan left. New roads have not been constructed. New hospitals have not been built. So, where has the money gone?

Other than the N120 billion annual budget for the National Assembly under Buhari, and General Buhari’s own annual N3.2 billion yearly food and travel budget, where is this massive debt being spent?

And now, I get to the embarrassing part. The plan to borrow $1.2 billion from Brazil. This administration seems to get its kick from finding new and ingenious ways to make Nigeria look big for nothing in the international community.

Brazil is one of the most indebted nations on Earth ever, with a national debt of $1.45 trillion, representing over 80% of its GDP. How can you get good terms? Brazil has defaulted on their debts three times, and, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, Brazil is at risk of a fourth default due to economic challenges stemming from COVID19.

And this is the country Nigeria wants to borrow $1.2 billion from? I never thought Nigeria would stoop so low in my lifetime. But then, I never reckoned with General Buhari. It shows desperation when a beggar begs from another beggar!
You see, the reason why they desperately need the money and have to go cap in hand to Brazil of all nations is that Nigeria under General Buhari cannot even pay salaries without borrowing.

The Director-General of Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said as much to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts last week.
Yet, as bad as things are, there have been no cost-cutting actions on the part of the Buhari government. Their only solution is to take loans until you are alone!

Sadly, Nigeria gained her independence from Great Britain 60 years ago, and now, 60 years later, Nigeria is losing her independence to China (and very soon to Brazil), because we have an Almajiri President whose only language is beg, borrow, and give me. Beggarliness is in Buhari’s DNA!
I researched Brazil and discovered that the Brazilian Presidency has just two Presidential jets, with one for use mainly for domestic travel and another for international travel. This was done to save costs.

If I were the President of Brazil, I would be wondering why a country whose President has ten Presidential jets would want to borrow money from a country whose President has just two Presidential jets. Why not first consider other options of raising funds, like selling nine of the ten jets?
Or why not reduce the maintenance cost of Aso Rock Presidential villa? At N4.6 billion per annum ($12 million per annum), that is $1 million per month. I researched, and President Bolsonaro of Brazil does not even spend one-third of that on his residence. Yet, Nigeria wants to borrow $1.2 billion from them to waste!

Borrowing continues to be a measure of first resort by the Buhari government, and that is sad because you cannot be governing with luxuries and not expect your cheques to bounce.

Brazilian is the wrong nation to borrow from. This is a bad move. This smacks of desperation, and those in the All Progressive Congress and Northern Nigeria who have the ears of this government should start whispering to them that they are going down a rabbit hole that may well take down this contraption that they inaccurately term a government.

In my Reno’s nuggets, I have often taught that if you are broke, it is more important to expand your income than to do anything else. Perhaps this administration read that nugget and misunderstood it or misapplied it. Borrowing does not raise your revenue. Instead, it expands your liabilities. Hopefully, General Buhari has the intellectual capacity to fathom the difference!

First, we were borrowing from America. Then we were borrowing from England. Then we were borrowing from China. Then we were borrowing from India. Next, we were borrowing from the Islamic Development Bank. And we woke up one day, only to hear that General Buhari wants to borrow from Brazil. It is a good thing MMM collapsed. At least, we can be safely assured that General Buhari cannot borrow from them.

#Reno’s Nuggets
You heard that Apple’s iPhone 12 is coming out, and you are excitedly saving to buy it. But ask yourself these questions:
• Is your old phone not working?
• Do you have more pressing needs that you have not met?
• How will buying this phone improve your life?
• Have you saved to invest?
• Do you own any income yielding asset, like a house, share, or part ownership of a business?

If you buy things that you don’t need, you will soon need things that you can’t buy! Buy on principle, not on impulse. Make wise choices, not nice choices!
#RenosNuggets #EndSARS