The Chairman, Southern Senators’ Forum and Lawmaker representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, has clarified that attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow to finance the N16.2 trillion 2022 budget proposal is in tandem with international best practices.
Bamidele averted that borrowing to fund critical infrastructure aspect of the economy that can generate more employments and revenues remain the best panacea to the dwindling Nigeria’s economy, saying Nigeria has no alternative to borrowing at this period.
President Buhari had, while presenting a sum of N16.2 trillion budget estimate for the 2022 fiscal year to the joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday, said the country would borrow more to fund substantial aspect of the appropriation bill when becomes law.
The comment had elicited a lot of divergent views and flaks, with many Nigerians cautioning that limitless borrowing would further damage the economy and create more sufferings for the citizenry.
But Bamidele, who spoke with journalists via telephone in Ado-Ekiti on Friday, stated that borrowing to fund critical areas of the budget has become a fad globally, praising President Buhari for adding N370 billion to fund humanitarian policies regarded to be crucial to Nigerians.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, said: “I know that we have to be concerned with our level of deficit, I mean borrowing, but where is the alternative at this time? How do we fund our budget?
“The issue now is whether to fold our arms and watch and just pay salaries of workers and abandon other critical areas, which I know Nigeria can’t do, because it would further worsen our situation, or we face the reality that confronts us as a people.
“Nigeria is a member of the International Monetary Fund and contributors to the World Bank, what would now be the benefit of this? We didn’t pray for COVID-19, it came and devastated the world economy and we must find a way to get out of the present situation.
“What we will not accept is borrowing to fund consumables. It has to be for the provision of Infrastructures that can generate more revenues and employments. We are assuring Nigerians that the National Assembly would ensure full implementation of the budget for the overall interest of all Nigerians.”
Rationalising the hiking of the budget from the original N13.2 trillion to N16.2 trillion, Bamidele clarified that such was not overambition, but in reality with what the country is being confronted with after the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world economy.
Bamidele maintained that with the economic pillars with which the proposal was anchored, that it was sure that it can no longer be business as usual in the country, if truly the citizens are desirous to get out of the woods.
Bamidele urged President Buhari to block all existing leakages for the country to be able to generate more IGR to fortify the economy.
The Senator appealed for the playing of more local politics, so that all factors impeding the meeting of the 1.8m oil barrel production per day by Nigeria can be subdued.
“The administration of President Buhari must work hard and block all leakages in all agencies of government, so that we can generate more IGR to fund our programmes.
“We must also play more local politics in the Niger Delta area so that we can meet our daily production. We projected 1.8m daily production but it has fallen to 1.2m barrel a day due to sabotage and agitations. Nigeria will make money with the increase in the oil prices at the international market, but we should also be concerned about what we make us achieve our targets.”
The All Progressives Congress Senator added further: “The presentation of the budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year at this time goes to show that President Buhari is conscious of the present challenges we are in. It shows that it is no longer business as usual.
“What we have now is either we fold our arms and look on or we face the reality of our problems and confronted it. Don’t also forget that this is the last budget President Buhari will implement fully and he knows that it has to be a Legacy Budget for Nigerians.
“What should be the concern of every right thinking Nigerians is where did we go wrong? How do we correct it and expand ? We should also be concerned about ensuring that the budget is implemented fully in critical areas of the economy.
“Most interesting was the additional N370 billion provided to fund humanitarian and social policies of government and this followed the global warfare in the name of Covid 19. It is time to start preparing for the future.”