There are options to loan, says Gbajabiamila
House of Representatives Minority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila has said there is no need for the Federal Government to take the proposed $1 billion (about N165 billion) loan to equip the army.
He urged the government to explore a trade-by-barter option to equip and train the army in its fight against insurgency.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja by his Research and Media aide, Wasiu Olanrewaju-Smart, the lawmaker faulted President Goodluck Jonathan’s penchant for loans, despite the other options, such as the Sovereign Wealth Fund, reserve and excess oil revenue.
Gbajabiamila said: “The Federal Government, by setting an illegal benchmark, has been creaming off about $30 per barrel of our crude oil sales, which it puts in an illegal Excess Crude Account. If it insists on cash, it should reach into that illegal account.
“Again, it also set up the Sovereign Wealth Fund, a component of which it described as a future generation account. Well, Madam (Finance) Minister, the Chibok girls represent the future generation, go into that account, if you must. (That’s) Assuming the National Assembly will allow that. But to incur a further $1 billion loan at whatever interest rate, that is one loan too many for our future generation to pay off, and the answer is a capital No!
“The request for $1 billion loan by the President, after N3 trillion allocated to Defence in three years with nothing to show for it, is evidence that the President and his advisers regard Nigerians as imbeciles (which they are not). For the sake of clarity, an imbecile is defined as a blockhead or a dunce.”
The lawmaker described the loan as a “perfidious request”.
He urged his colleagues in the National Assembly to turn down the request and asked the Federal Government to exchange oil for military hardware, as other needy countries have done in the past, if indeed Nigeria has weak military equipment, after comparing the previous budgets for Defence.
Gbajabiamila said: “I do not think any more cash should pass through government at this time. If indeed more money is needed for the training of our men and women in uniform, which I doubt, then we should resort to the time-tested trade-by-barter. This means of commodity exchange continues between countries all over. We can exchange oil for arms if need be.
“The AL YAMAMAH arms deal between the Saudis and the United Kingdom (UK), wherein a large amount of British military hardware was sold to the Saudi Arabian government for 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day, comes to mind. So does the ‘oil for arms’ deal between China and Venezuela and the deal struck by the United States (U.S) in 2011, when over 80 F15 fighter jets were sold to the Royal Saudi Air Force. The deal included training, logistics and maintenance.”
The lawmaker, who is also the All Progressives Congress (APC) Leader in the House, listed some posers on which National Assembly members should ruminate before acting on President Jonathan’s request.
He said: “Firstly, a comprehensive audit of what has happened to all the money allocated by the National Assembly to Defence in the last three years must be done immediately. This must be a condition precedent before a kobo is ever approved again.
“Secondly, we have the MTEF, which laid out government expenditure framework for the next three years. We must stack this alongside this recent request and see if there is any place for such…”
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