Foreign Loans: Don’t Return Us Back To Debtors Club – TUC Cautions FG

TUC PRESIDENT, COMRADE BOBBOI KAIGAMA
TUC PRESIDENT, COMRADE BOBBOI KAIGAMA

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has raised the alarm over the country’s rising external debt profile, with the warning that if it is not checked, the future of Nigeria might once again be mortgaged to foreign creditors.

In a statement issued in Lagos and signed by its president, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, the TUC expressed concern that while Nigeria celebrated with fanfare the external debt exit in 2005 under the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo, by December 2010, the external debt portfolio had climbed up to $4.78 billion.

“So, if the foreign debt regime now stands at $9.38 billion, it follows that external debt profile has risen by about $5 billion; that is about 100% in less than four years.

“This is very unfortunate more-so when the impact of the foreign loans are not being positively felt by the generality of the citizens.

“Nobody should be carried away by the argument that the country’s debt stock is still less than 26% of GDP – the so-called international standard. The fact of the matter is that the country went through hell when its debt stock was about $35 billion. We should, therefore, be concerned that we are going back to where we were before”, the statement added.

According to the Labour Centre, although the Debt Management Office (DMO) stated that part of the loan was injected into the power sector, there is nothing on ground to show that electricity supply has improved because by May 2014, the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, had lamented that the country was generating 3,800mw for a population of 170 million, whereas, experts estimate that Lagos State alone will require about 15,000mw.

The TUC president also faulted the claim by the director-general of the DMO, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, that part of the loan was also used to finance road projects including the Abuja International Airport Road that has not been completed for years.

Kaigama called on the Trade Union movement, civil society groups, and other well-meaning Nigerians to rise up and ensure that the federal government stops further foreign borrowing forthwith.

“We also demand that the federal government should curtail unnecessary expenditure, prune down the obscene emoluments of political office holders, and block other leakages through which billions of naira are looted from the treasuries”, he said.