Anambra State former Governor, Peter Obi, has said he is in support of federal government’s plan to borrow, but cautioned against borrowing without a plan.
President Muhammadu Buhari had late last year wrote to the National Assembly seeking for the approval of external borrowing plan of $29.960billion for execution of key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.
Not only did the Senate rejected the plan, many Nigerians also kicked against it. They argue that $30bn loan which the President seeks to borrow will mortgage the future of Nigerians because it could take close to three decades to pay off the loan.
But Peter Obi, commenting on Federal Government plan to borrow said there was nothing wrong with that so long as there is a plan on ground leading to the borrowing.
The former governor, who stated this on CNBC Africa on Tuesday, also disclosed how the Rotimi Amaechi-led Governors Forum during the reign of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan refused to listen to pleas to save for a troubled time.
According to Obi, the former Minister of Finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and then Governor of Central Bank (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on a number of occasions begged and cautioned that government save for future purposes but the governors opposed the idea and refused their pleas.
“I was in government when the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Aganga, Sanusi were crying that we should save; we collectively said we don’t want savings, and we are now in this mess. We cannot afford to increase it by going to borrow without a clear road map on what we would use it for,” he said.
For Obi, Nigeria can still begin to save even with the economic situation it has found itself as most countries of the world save in crisis situation.
“People start saving in crisis. Go and check most nations that save. They started it in crisis situation, because they could see the point of not saving yesterday, and that is where we are. I have said it before that even if we saved five per cent of all our oil earnings from 1960 to date, which is about $1.2 trillion, considering a compound interest of about five per cent, we should have about $150 billion today.”
“Imagine what would have been happening if we were in that situation. That was 56 years ago; we have 44 years to our 100th year of independence. What I am saying is that if we decide today to save on 50 per cent of our budgeted output of 2.2 million barrels per day, if we decide to save on just 1 million barrels per day, with our earnings at $50 per barrel, in the next 44 years, we would be at 50 to 60 billion dollars.
“I was in government when Ngozi-Iweala was crying meeting after meeting, let’s save money; we need to save for a rainy day. We said no. Some said this woman should not be found near this country,” he said.