There is nothing as sweet as having to pay for what you have instead of working and not seeing what you have been working for. Borrowing to build infrastructure is better than borrowing to squander on personal whims. If China can connect Nigeria with rail, Russia revamp our steel industry, Korea produce cars and other nations invest in our healthcare and other sundry sectors, and we have all these and have to pay for them in the future, so be it, please!
We have experimented loan interventions from the IMF and World Bank and nothing tangible was recorded from these loans in terms of critical infrastructure. Time it is we devise other ingenious means to make great our borrowing plans. If travelling on train from Kaduna to Abuja, Itakpe to Warri and Ibadan to Lagos on train luxuriates you, then borrowing to build these life-saving ventures should not offend you. One of the best government-owned hospitals in Abuja – the Federal Medical Hospital, Jabi, was built by the Chinese. Go there and see what quality services entail.
A political party raised N22 billion to build its party secretariat and the estimated cost of building the secretariat was N16 billion. Unfortunately, as we speak, the building stands in isolated carcasses, the money raised for this project was squandered by same party men and women! That is what our economists call growth in Nigeria, failure in governance is applauded more than genuine efforts for growth. That is why we all will frown at the ongoing work on the 2nd Niger Bridge that has defied every government intervention. Now, the bridge is near completion and some people are querying government’s borrowing effort to make the bridge a reality for the living and the unborn. Any child that will be born in the next 10 years and will drive on the 2nd Niger Bridge comfortably without spending hours like is obtainable when travelling on the present Onitsha bridge, would be so happy to pay tax when asked to than waiting for government to come year in year out to pay lip service to provide infrastructure.
In this same country, we had a former vice president supervise the privatisation policy of government, this same man sold about $3.5bn government asset for a penny of $250m! Hypocritically, he sits proudly spewing hypocritical rhetoric. The huge investments in the power sector went down the drain, released fund for road construction went into private pockets and for 16 years, we watched helplessly how resources meant for real development was looted by the same people weeping for our children.
I am not an economist but I have common sense to know that great nations attain their greatness from genuine efforts of their leaders when they went cap in hand asking for loans to develop their countries. Like I always say, allow those who are making effort to change our narrative for the better and spare us your alarming fears. This is that time to get it right as a nation, don’t be a clog.
Like someone said, ‘Only those who borrow to buy aso-ebi would complain that borrowing to build roads, bridges, rails is a waste.’
The United States has the largest external debt in the world. In 2017, the US debt-to-GDP ratio was ranked 43rd highest out of 207 countries. The Congressional Budget Office forecast in April 2018 that debt held by the public will rise to nearly 100 per cent of GDP by 2028, perhaps higher, if current policies are extended beyond their scheduled expiration date.
According to a publication of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), ‘Global debt has reached an all-time high of $184 trillion in nominal terms, the equivalent of 225 per cent of GDP in 2017. On average, the world’s debt now exceeds $86,000 in per capita terms, which is more than 2½ times the average income per-capita.
The most indebted economies in the world are also the richer ones. You can explore this more in the interactive chart below. The top three borrowers in the world – the United States, China, and Japan – account for more than half of global debt, exceeding their share of global output.
The private sector’s debt has tripled since 1950. This makes it the driving force behind global debt. Another change since the global financial crisis has been the rise in private debt in emerging markets, led by China, overtaking advanced economies. At the other end of the spectrum, private debt has remained very low in low-income developing countries.
Global public debt, on the other hand, has experienced a reversal of sorts. After a steady decline up to the mid-1970s, public debt has gone up since, with advanced economies at the helm and, of late, followed by emerging and low-income developing countries.’
And a nation in desirous quest of development cannot afford to be left behind in the borrowing rush to develop its infrastructure.
Rather than vilify President Muhammadu Buhari, we should call for the breakdown of what all the borrowings will bring forth and citizens should turn themselves into watchdogs. That way, we can hold everyone accountable.