Group warns Jonathan against taking $1b loan
A Niger Delta group, the Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (CENTREP), has cautioned President Goodluck Jonathan against enslaving Nigeria with his proposed $1 billion (about N165 billion) loan “in the name of fighting Boko Haram”.
Its Executive Director Oghenejabor Ikimi said any loan obtained in the guise of fighting terrorism would go down the drain, just as previous defence budgets.
He said such loans would be frittered away through official corruption and mismanagement in the polity.
Ikimi, a lawyer, noted that it was absurd for Nigeria to resort to taking loans to equip the military.
“We went through a 30-month civil war without borrowing a dime from international creditors. We prosecuted same to its conclusion with internally-generated funds.
“We are also not oblivious of the fact that since independence, defence budgets have consistently taken the lion’s share of our national cake such that if the money allocated in the defence budgets were judiciously spent by successive governments, the military would have had no reason to be ill-equipped,” Ikimi said.
The activist recalled that over N960 billion was set aside for defence in this year’s budget out of which, quoting the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over N360 billion was released between January and April.
He said the President also approved another N37 billion for disbursement to the military.
Ikimi said: “Are these funds properly monitored? If yes, by who? The biggest obstacle to successive budgets, since independence, has been official corruption and mismanagement of public funds by those trusted with managing these budgets.”
“If the type of insurgency taking place in the North today had been envisaged by our short-sighted military chiefs, maybe our Armed Forces would have been much more equipped with the money realised from successive budgets. Do our leaders plan at all for the future? Our answer is in the negative.”
The activist noted that instead of borrowing, the Federal Government should downsize and reduce its spending spree to shore up additional funds for equipping the military.
He said: “There is a lot of waste of public funds at the centre. We are aware that the insurgents are better equipped and the Nigerian military is not winning the war against terrorism.
“But resorting at the same time to borrowing foreign loans to equip our military in the face of the Federal Government’s present spending spree is an absurdity.
“We call on President Jonathan to jettison the idea in the interest of the vulnerable and the underprivileged Nigerians.”
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