Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, has blamed Nigeria’s debt burden on previous administrations.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has been criticized and accused of plunging Nigeria into debt.
In what could be described as a veiled reference to the Buhari government, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday said it is criminal to accumulate debts for the next generation.
But speaking at plenary on Wednesday, Olamilekan said a huge part of Nigeria’s total debt profile roughly estimated at N33trillion was incurred by past administrations, dating back to the military era.
He spoke during consideration of the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
He said majority of the loans being repaid presently by Buhari administration were ones accumulated from the times of the military to those of the PDP administration under Ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, between 1999 and 2015.
Olamilekan said this when asked by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to make clarifications on concerns raised by lawmakers, particularly over Nigeria’s debt profile during deliberation on the report of the Joint Committees on Finance; Local and Foreign Debts; Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions; Petroleum Resources (Upstream); Downstream Petroleum Sector and Gas on the 2022-2024 Medium Term Framework.
Responding, Adeola said, “The borrowing you are saying is accumulated borrowing. It is not a borrowing of this administration alone, it is a borrowing that stems from the days of the military to the days when the Democratic dispensation started.
“It is an accumulated loan, it is not a loan that says that it is the current administration of President Buhari that has borrowed.
“It is a loan that has been borrowed by the previous administration – the Obasanjo, the Jonathan, the Yar’Adua of this world.
“[And] since the business of government is a continuum, the President of the day has no choice but to continue to pay back all these loans that have been borrowed by the previous administrations.
“More than three-quarter of these loans you’re seeing were borrowed from the previous administrations, and we are paying back – we are doing what is supposed to be done, the way it is supposed to be done.
“So, when my colleague said that for every sixty-seven naira of any loan that was borrowed, we are using to pay, he should know that more than sixty naira of it are loans borrowed by previous administration. And that is where we are.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks, blamed Nigeria’s economic predicament on the failure of past governments to prioritise the provision of critical infrastructure.
According to him, the situation has left the present administration with no other viable option but to seek external borrowing to fund capital expenditures in the national budget.
“I believe that we have learnt so much from the clarification which the Chairman of the Joint Committee gave.
“Let me say this, when you don’t make hay while the sun shines, this is the kind of thing you face. When we had plenty of money, we didn’t prioritize the construction of infrastructure in Nigeria. We wasted our resources when we had much.
“Today, we realize we need to construct infrastructure because that is the only way to develop the country. Unfortunately, we don’t have the kind of resources we had before.
“Now, our options are very limited because our revenues are limited. I agree with all our colleagues who said we need to reduce borrowing.”