Lai Mohammed defends FG’s inability to account for foreign debts

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Thursday defended the inability of the federal government to account for the foreign loans that have increased Nigeria’s debt burden in the past six years. The minister said that the debts incurred are not used to fund recurrent expenditures but for implementing capital projects inherited from  previous administrations. This is coming after six years of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government.

Lai Mohammed at a one-day town hall meeting on the power situation in Borno State, adopted the blame game to justify the inherent contradictions of President Muhammadu Buhari on debt management. While the President is demanding the approval of the Nigerian Senate to approve the procurement of fresh foreign loans, he   is at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly begging “rich nations” and international financial institutions to cancel debts of developing countries.

Lai Mohammed justifying the demand for fresh foreign loans, disclosed  that the federal government has implemented a lot of projects in different parts of the country which, past administrations had used as a conduit pipe to squander public funds. However, the claimed projects are invisible except for the standard guage rail line – Abuja to Kaduna, and Lagos to Ibadan.

Lai Mohammed, however, stated: “Naysayers have recently ramped up their criticism of the Buhari administration from borrowing. These critics are very insincere; we do not borrow for recurrent expenditure neither do we borrow to pay salaries. We are borrowing to build world-class infrastructures that will benefit generations of Nigerians and we have a lot to show from the loans we have taken.”

The minister said that the federal government has over 13,000 kilometers of federal roads under repair, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.

He highlighted: “There’s a road project in every state today. Today we have started the countdown to when the second Niger bridge which successive administrations have built only on paper will be completed.

“It is an irony that those who are criticizing us today performed very badly in terms of modernizing our infrastructure even when they served at a time when our earnings were multiples of what we get today. Have they embarked on the kind of infrastructure development we are currently engaged in perhaps there would have been no reason for us to borrow as much as we are doing today?

“For example, in their time they claimed to have spent billions of naira in building infrastructure but as one can see their infrastructure projects are only on the pages of newspapers. Today we are still saddled with looking for resources to build the same infrastructure for which they claimed to have allocated huge resources.

“We’ll however not be deterred by their antics, we’ll continue to ignore those who have decided to play politics with everything.”

Lai Mohammed, however, failed to specify definite project the government has completed, probably he is not aware that for six years, the government cannot complete the rehabilitation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; Ore-Shagamu Interchange expressway, etc.