Lawan cautions Buhari on borrowing to fund projects

Nigeria's Senate President, Ahmad Lawan

Senate President Ahmad Lawan, has advised the Federal Government to reduce its borrowing by seeking alternative ways of implementing infrastructural projects not funded through local and foreign loans.

Speaking on Wednesday at plenary, Lawan said: “We need to put up a lot of effort to ensure that these revenue generating agencies do their work promptly, efficiently and effectively.

“Where they have challenges, we must help them. Like most of us said, borrowing needs to be carefully applied here. There are projects that I feel we should ensure we don’t borrow to fund.

“We should explore other opportunities in sourcing funds such as the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), Public Private Partnerships and so many other options. I think we should explore on those so that we minimize the borrowing.

“There are lot of businesses that have interest in the development of our infrastructures, so we should explore the other means.

“But then again, we can not eliminate borrowing, that is the sad part of it. I think in the past we deluded our selves into thinking that Nigeria is the richest country in the world, meanwhile we are not developing our infrastructure.

“If we had applied whatever we had then, especially in our good years, we would have found that we wouldn’t have any money to spare to call ourselves rich.

“We need to look at the possibility of reducing the kind of borrowing we do in order to ensure that we don’t accumulate so much deficit and end up spending so much of our revenue servicing debts,” he said.

The Senate President who bemoaned the high recurrent expenditure profile of government, underscored the need for the merger of agencies so as to reduce cost of governance.

“Whenever we talk of cost of governance, we think of how to merge the different agencies.

“I think there is need for us to muster the political will, because we know what to do, but when it comes to doing the right thing, we find it difficult to do it.

“I think the time has come for government to do so, and government includes us, to address this issue.

“There are so many agencies, and these are agencies that were created to address specific challenges at the time.

“Now, they are irrelevant. They are simply conduits that are given money every year, while they have no value to add to governance.

“We need to really work closely with the Executive arm of Government. I know it is going to be a tough call, because it will be said this is not a time for people to lose their jobs, but somehow we need to find a way out of this as the cost of governance is high,” Lawan said.

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