The Federal Government’s proposed $30 billion external loan is necessary to lift Nigeria out of its current economic recession.
This is the position of the Director General of the Voice Of Nigeria, (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu, as the argument over President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent loan request continues.
He was the guest of Channels Television’s Breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, on Monday, October 31, 2016.
Against popular opinion that the nation ought not to take such a step as it has just come out of debt, Mr Okechukwu defended the move with the view that the President means well in his actions.
“He came in at a time when the oil prices had crashed below 50 dollars per barrel and also, there wasn’t much savings left by the previous regime.
“Not much money was coming into the coffers, as militancy took over in the Niger Delta, which has over the years, resulted in a recession,” he explained.
Furthermore, he said at the time President Buhari came into power, rather than investing in the power or infrastructure sectors, as suggested by many, there were other more pressing issues such as workers’ unpaid salaries.
As a result, “the President started what was referred to as the ‘bailout funds’, when he realized a lot of citizens had been owed salaries for over a year and poverty rate was on the increase”.
In the recent case of recession, he pointed out that in order not to get into a deep depression, while also considering the huge infrastructure deficit and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap, the President and his Vice, “went out to look for funds”.
According to the VON boss, “just like a family that is struck with famine, they had to begin seeking external help”.
Recalling a similar situation that occurred in America, under the jurisdiction of Franklin D. Roosevelt, he said authorities advised that they must spend their way out of the recession.
In the case of Nigeria, Mr Okechukwu explained that while running a mono-economy, the nation is left with no choice than to borrow and spend its way out of the recession.
Speaking further on the benefits of the loan, Mr Okechukwu highlighted areas such as the power and agriculture sector.
According to him, the Manbilla power project, in which the President is about to devote about 4.8 billion dollars, has the capacity to generate about 4,000 megawatts which is “far above what we currently have on ground”.
Asides power generation, he said the agriculture sector would massively benefit from the plan.
In an attempt to allay the fears of citizens who believe the funds would end up in private pockets, Mr Okechukwu said “the good thing about the loan is that it is not necessarily coming in form of cash but some would be in form of equipment, targeted at specific areas of the nation’s economy”.
He also debunked insinuations that that the nation might end up in external as well as internal debts.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) is also against the approval of the loan request, and have said that the National Assembly should not grant the request based on similar occurrences during former President Obasanjo’s regime.
They stated that it was difficult getting some debt relief.