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Buhari govt borrows to invest in capital projects, not consume – Adesina

Femi Adesina

*Says FG not interested in naming, shaming sponsors of terrorism but in prosecuting them

*Stop reckless borrowing now, Atiku support group tells Buhari

Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, on Monday, said the Buhari administration does not borrow to consume but to invest in capital projects that will drive development.

Adesina disclosed this during an interview on Channels Television, stating that “this is the difference between this administration and perhaps others before it who borrow to steal, who borrow to pocket, who borrow to waste”.

He said: “We are borrowing for development and that is the difference between this administration and perhaps others before it, who borrow to steal, who borrow to pocket, who borrow to waste”.

On the possibility of fresh borrowings by the Federal Government from bilateral meetings at the United Nations Assembly, Adesina said: “You don’t go to the UN to seek borrowings. Any borrowing will not be approved until it goes through the National Assembly.

“The President is not going to borrow again. That is not the essence of the summit. When he meets with other presidents at the multilateral meetings, whatever is done there will not go through the back door. That meeting will be reported and whatever action is taken will go through the National Assembly.

“The President is aware of Nigerians’ clamouring against borrowing. He doesn’t live in space. He lives among the people. Many times, at the Federal Executive Council meeting when issues of borrowing come up, he talks about it.

“He says he knows people are saying his administration is borrowing too much, but we are not borrowing to put in our pockets. We are borrowing for development.”

Adesina said that this is the difference between the Buhari regime and others who he accused of “borrowing to steal, to pocket and to waste.”

“This administration will borrow and use it for development. And we can see evidence of those borrowings and the salutary impact it has had on our national infrastructure,” he said.

Asked about the recent outburst by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who said it is wasteful to borrow for consumption, Adesina said: “I read what President Obasanjo said.

“He said clearly that when you borrow for development, there is nothing wrong with it. That is the purpose of what the former president said.

“Whoever wants to take a negative slant can do so. But the essence of what the former president said was that there is nothing wrong with borrowing for development.

“And one thing about this Buhari administration is that it borrows for development.”

He explained that “Many times, the Minister of Finance has come out to say that the extent of borrowing to Nigeria’s GDP is tolerable. That the GDP can accommodate the borrowing. If it goes beyond that, there will be a red flag.

“Yes, it may be on the high side but the GDP can accommodate it.”

Asked if 100 per cent of what is borrowed actually goes for development, the aide said the question is better answered by the finance minister.

He said: “Propositions for borrowing that are brought before the FEC meeting. It must be thoroughly discussed. If anything comes and it’s for consumption, it will not sail through.”

Adesina also disclosed that the Federal Government is not interested in naming and shaming sponsors of terrorism, but in bringing such malefactors to justice.

Recall that last week, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) placed six Nigerians on its terror list.

Asked if President Muhammadu Buhari would comment on the issue of terrorism at the United Nations Assembly, following the naming of six Nigerians as “sponsors of terrorism” in UAE, Adesina said the Federal Government’s focus will be on prosecution of suspects.

He said: “Naming and shaming won’t be the motive. Rather, bringing malefactors to justice would be it. Nigeria is not interested in naming and shaming anybody. Rather, it wants to bring them to justice.

“You will see that the United Arab Emirates has given some names, and the attorney-general of the federation has responded to that matter, saying that in due course, all these people will have their days in court.

“Rest assured that these people will be dragged before justice and justice will have its way.”

The presidential spokesperson added that investigations are being carried out across different security agencies on sponsors of terrorism, and evidence will be presented for prosecution.

“You don’t take people before the court without investigation. I think even the EFCC chairman, Bawa, spoke about it recently. Investigations are going on at different levels.

“It would be at the level of EFCC; it would be at the level of the National Intelligence Agency. Different security agencies would be working on it so that when those people eventually appear in court, there will be what the lawyers call a prima facie case against them,” he said.

Meanwhile, a support group of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Atiku Support Organisation, has described the recent move by President Muhammadu Buhari to get a fresh loan as “reckless”.

The group said this in a press statement on Monday, asking the National Assembly to reject the president’s fresh request.

Recall that President Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 billion and €710 million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”

The request was contained in a letter dated 24 August 2021.

The group made its position known in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Dr. El Mo Victor, titled, “Stop the reckless borrowing now – Atiku’s Support Organisation tells the presidency… demands senate rejection of fresh loan request”.

The pro-Atiku group asked the Buhari regime to learn to cut costs, block leakages, stop medical tourism and save money for the execution of programmes and projects.

The statement read: “It is public knowledge that since its assumption into office in 2015, the APC/Buhari government in just 6 years and with no end in sight, has accumulated a humongous debt burden of over N26 trillion with nothing on the ground to show for it and no accountability whatsoever on how the debt incurred so far was spent.

“To send another request to the house for approval to borrow more money even when over 98% of our revenue is used to service the already incurred debt is an act of national recklessness and should not be allowed to continue.

“All Nigerians including the future generations will pay dearly for the recklessness of this government if we all do not wake up to stop them.

The APC/Buhari government is only borrowing to service corruption and avarice, create opportunities for the continued pillaging of our common resources and then transfer the burden to the young ones and the next generation.

“We demand the National Assembly outright rejection of President Buhari’s fresh loan request of $4bn and €710 for whatsoever camouflaged justification to put an end to the irresponsible borrowing for the sake of posterity otherwise, calamity lies ahead.

The Senate should insist instead on accountability and demand a clear explanation with proof on how previous loans were expended.”

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Ihesiulo Grace

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