Works and Housing minister Babatunde Fashola has justified debt accumulation by President Muhammadu Buhari regime, saying it is a way for the unborn generation to contribute to the country’s infrastructure building.
“Our infrastructures are no longer enough for us to use. That’s why,” Mr Fashola told BBC Yoruba. “The children people say we are accumulating debt for, should we wait until they are 40 to start building infrastructure or we build the infrastructure before they are born. Which in is more sensible? They should meet the infrastructure on ground.”
Citing a project he executed as former Lagos State governor, Mr Fashola said “I ask people that the bridge we built in Lagos yesterday in Lekki, should we wait for the children who use the bridge when going to school now to become adults before building the bridge? Is it not better that they use it from when they are small? They should also contribute to it.”
The minister said Nigerians will either chose between government borrowing or increment in taxes, adding that the American government has a debt burden of $23 trillion and it is still borrowing.
Away from Mr Fashola’s assertion, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose administration is lauded for clearing Nigeria’s foreign debt, condemned the continuous borrowing by the Buhari regime, saying accumulating debt for future generation is foolish and criminal.
“If we are borrowing for recurrent expenditure it is height of folly. If you are borrowing for development that can pay itself, of course, that is understandable. Then paying itself, how long will it take to pay itself,” Mr Obasanjo said days after Mr Buhari made request to the National Assembly for a fresh $4 billion loan last month.
With Nigeria’s debt service to revenue ratio at 98 per cent, experts say continuous borrowing is unsustainable.
“But if you are borrowing and you are accumulating debt for the next generation and the generation after them, it is criminal to put it mildly,” Mr Obasanjo added.