…As FG, states raise foreign loans to $9.79 bn
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Indications emerged yesterday that the cumulative foreign loans sought by the Presidency and the states have risen to $9.79 billion from an initial $7.93 billion. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Ehigie Uzamere, disclosed this, at the resumed meeting between the Senate and states defence of foreign loans.
President Goodluck Jonathan had early this year forwarded a $7.9 billion loan request to the National Assembly, to complete pipeline projects which have now been incorporated in the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (M-TEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) which is presently under consideration. But lawmakers are raising the alarm over the debt burden on present and future generations. This followed a strict warning from Senators to states not to embark on reckless borrowings which would enslave future generations of Nigerians. Most of the loans would mature in 40 years.
Uzamere insisted that the Senate will “not give blanket approval because we will not allow our children to be in perpetual slavery. “It is sad the way we are going in this country. We are taking this loan very seriously. This money, when appropriated, we will still go out on oversight to the states to see how they are being used. Our children yet unborn must not suffer.
When we approve the borrowings, we will visit the states to see what they are doing with the loan”, he said. Another member of the committee, Gbenga Obadara, reiterated that states must not set debt traps for future generations and warned against excessive and unnecessary borrowings.
“There is no reason for any state to over-borrow. The states must think of people that will pay these loans later. We find it difficult to put the states in debt trap. We have states demanding upwards of $100million; the debt will continue to pile up”, he said. “One per cent interest today will become much later.
We should shun reckless borrowing. We won’t give you a blanket approval because of the consequences on the future generations. Some of the states asking for the loans include Adamawa, with a total sum of $54 million, Plateau, $81 million and Abia, $265million. Others that applied for loans are Cross River, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Borno, Nasarawa, Ondo, Rivers, Ebonyi, Enugu, Bauchi, Yobe, Ekiti, Kebbi, Kwara, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun, Jigawa, Sokoto, Anambra, Katsin, Edo, Niger, Bayelsa and Delta.
Cross River, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos and Borno states are to benefit from $140 million growth and employment project loan while Adamawa, Ondo and Nasarawa will share $50 million state health programme investment credit at $16.67million each. Abia,Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states will benefit from $450 million erosion watershed management project loan while Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Enugu, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Imo, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun states will share $250 million youth employment and social support operations loan. Katsina and Niger will share $75 million rural and mobility project phase Two loan at $37.5 million each while Edo State will take $25 million loan for growth and employment support operation.
Bauchi, Ekiti and Anambra states will share $150 million education programme investment project. Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers will share $200 million. Others are Bayelsa $37.7m, Edo $45.02m, Rivers $61.63m, Delta $39.78m, FGN $7.8m, Ministry of Niger Delta $2.5m and NPC $5.3m. Oyo State requested for $200 million flood and waste management loan project while the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will share $300 million agricultural operation loan project.