By Tony Nwanne
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s external borrowing plan saying “If we borrow some $30bn, in less than three years, we would have mortgaged the future of Nigeria for well over thirty years to come.”
Obasanjo spoke on Wednesday at the first Akintola Williams Annual Lecture in Lagos where he also took a swipe at the Nigerian military, the judiciary and the National Assembly. This is the first time Obasanjo is openly criticising President Buhari who took office one and a half years ago.
“We immediately need loans to stabilise our foreign reserve and embark on some infrastructure development but surely not $30 billion over a period of less than three years,” Obasanjo said in his lecture titled “Nigeria yesterday, today and tomorrow: Governance and accountability.
“That $30bn was about the magnitude of cumulative debt of Nigeria which we worked and wiped out ten years ago. Before that debt relief, we were spending almost $3 billion to service our debt annually and the quantum of the debt was not going down. Rather, if we defaulted, we paid penalty which was added on,” he added.
He said the projects listed for borrowing are necessary in the medium and longrun for the nation’s economy but the government has to prioritise. Citing the railway and the Mambilla hydro projects as examples, Obasanjo said they are necessary but cannot pay themselves.