- Cannot repay in the next 50 years
In apparent opposition to the desire of the Northern Governors Forum to seek loan from the Islamic Development Bank, IDB in Saudi Arabia to bail them out of the current economic down turn, Senator Shehu Sani has revealed that current foreign debt profile of Nigerian states stands at a staggering $3,271,960,461.03 mark.
Senator Sani, representing Kaduna Central senatorial district is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts.
According to the lawmaker, “Most of these debts were loans collected in the name of infrastructure or investment without anything to show for them.”
Senator Sani, who was reacting to the Northern Governors’ claim through their chairman, Alhaji Kashim Shettima of Borno State that he was wrong in his opposition to their move to secure loan from the IDB in Saudi Arabia, insisted that, “most states are incapable of servicing their debt in the next 50 years”.
In a statement issued over the weekend and made available to journalists in Abuja, he said: “There is no tangible infrastructure development in the north commensurate with amount of loan collected by the state governments in the last two decades.
“Most states are incapable of servicing their debts in the next 50 years. Taking cognisance of the current state of our economy, we have been plunged into a debt trap of which our grand children will not even be able to pay.
“There is no single export based investment or industry in the north that is currently in operation towards generating and attracting one million dollars monthly of foreign exchange.
“Dwindling oil revenue and handouts to states should not be the justification by northern governors to source for foreign loan and pile up debt for this and future generation of northerners.
“Most part of foreign and domestic loans collected were spent on personal luxuries or wasted in maintaining local political empire or financing white elephant projects or funding unrealistic political campaign promises.
“If we keep on borrowing at this phase, without adequate plan and enough resources to service them, we will end up burying ourselves in debt.
“Despite the hoopla of diversification, there’s no seriousness by most states to improve on agriculture. Most states’ ministries of agriculture are simply redundant underfunded bureaucracies.
“Addiction and intoxication with federal allocation have turned states into outposts of handouts,” he stressed.
Senator Sani therefore urged Governor Shettima, a seasoned banker and his colleagues to look inwards and think of better ways to liberate the masses of the North from pauperism and underdevelopment and not by lumping on them burden of unserviceable debts.
He stated: “If this generation of Nigerian leaders cannot leave behind for the future generation a developed and industrialized nation, they must not enslaved them and paralyze their future in debt”.