By G9ija

The Federal Government on Monday disclosed that it has suspended its $22.7 billion ex­ternal borrowing plans due to current realities in the global economic landscape.

Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, who made this known in Abuja said the cur­rent market indices do not support external borrowings at the moment.

Speaking at the 2020 In­ternational Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market, organised by the Se­curities and Exchange Com­mission (SEC), the minister stated that the government would not go ahead with the borrowing programme even if it secures the approval of the National Assembly.

The finance minister ex­plained that the decision of the government to suspend the borrowing was due to the fact that market indices do not support external borrowings at the moment.

She said, “The parliament is still doing its work on the borrowing plan. One arm of the parliament has complet­ed theirs and the other arm is still working and it is a pro­cess that is controlled by the parliament itself, so we are waiting.

“However, we are not going out immediately because the market indication is not in favour of external borrow­ing at this time. Even if we get approvals we will defer it and watch the market and go out only when the timing is right.”

She explained that the Federal Government was not relenting on its plans to diver­sify the country’s economy, noting that unfolding events of the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price war, had further reinforced the resolve to diver­sify the national economy.

She disclosed that the cur­rent challenges in the global economy had brought to the fore the need for the country to develop a non-oil attitude to everything.

According to her, the Fed­eral Government planned to prioritise expenditure in favour of major capital ex­penditures that would have greater impact, and which would create job and visibility and also enhance the ease of doing business in the country.

She noted that expendi­tures that are not critical must be deferred to a later date when things become more normal.

Meanwhile, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on Monday dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, and lend­ers to court over the $22.7 bil­lion loan request made by the president.

The coalition has also warned the leaders, especially China, African Development Banks, and other foreign partners against granting the Federal Government the $22.7 billion loan request.

The CUPP urged the Fed­eral High Court to stop Presi­dent Buhari from borrowing or accessing the loan.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the spokesman of the CUPP, Ikenga Imo Ugo­chinyere, warned leaders to halt any approval or dis­bursement or risk losing their money in view of the pending case.

The CUPP also berated the Senate for approving the loan request even without seeing the breakdown of the loan expenses as required by law.

Expressing concern over the loan, Ugochinyere said the request is to sink Nigeria into economic slavery and fi­nancial colonialism.

He said: “The Nigerian opposition coalition (CUPP), acting through one of the reg­istered political parties/coa­lition member, has just com­menced a legal offensive to stop the proposed borrowing of the sum of $22.7 billion by the Buhari government and also written to all the lend­ers to halt the loan request action. in view of the pending legal

“The loan being sourced from various international lenders is viewed by the op­position as a poorly executed plan to sell Nigeria into eco­nomic slavery and financial colonialism for which Nigeria was redeemed by the Presi­dent Olusegun Obasanjo ad­ministration.

“We declare that the loan request by the president is the greatest singular act of disservice any leader could have done to this country.

“The loan request is rid­dled with project lopsided­ness, lack of financial pru­dence, secrecy, plan to use loan for frivolous projects, over costing of projects, cor­ruption, misapplication and incompetence.

“Nigerians must know that of this loan, consultants are expected to take an alleged whopping 40% of the loan while projects are to purport­edly take the remaining 60%.”

Explaining why they decid­ed to head to court, the spokes­man alleged that the money was being sourced to prose­cute the 2023 general elections and not for infrastructural de­velopment which it shoddily presented to the National Assembly.

The CUPP also appealed to the House of Representatives not to approve the loan being sought by President Buhari, saying the loan had dire fu­ture consequences on Nigeria and its citizens.

The coalition urged the lenders to realise Buhari had just three years to be in power, adding that the next adminis­tration would be controlled by the opposition and would not honour the loan request and its repayment if it was grant­ed to the government through process not transparent.

Berating the Senate, the CUPP said: “We, therefore, condemn the rubber stamp leadership of the Senate for forcing through the approv­al of the loan by the Senate even when senators had not seen the breakdown of the loan expenses as required by law.

“The Senate leadership has clearly and unambigu­ously shown it is not on the side of the people and it is not representing the Nige­rian people but their selfish interest.

“Their unpatriotic stand on national issues and lack of vision has become all the more apparent and has turned the Senate into a chamber filled by political Allelluya boys.

“The exchange rate of the dollars due to certain vaga­ries, including gross mis­management of our econo­my, is now chasing N400 to a dollar.

“This means that at this rate, the $22.7 billion foreign loan will be equivalent of N9,080,000,000,000.

“This is more than the entire 2019 budget and just a little less than the entire 2020 budget. How can a govern­ment borrow its entire bud­get yet citizens are in doubt as to the contents of the loan package?

“This loan request is the height of Buhari’s APC led government’s insensitivity, irresponsibility, and wick­edness.

“Both indigenous and for­eign experts have pointed out the unsustainable trajectory of our country’s debt with the current upswing in bor­rowings, Nigerians will one day wake up to find that they are now tenants in their own houses.

“The Muhammadu Bu­hari regime would have sold our dear country to China and some nations in Europe.

“The opposition cannot sit and watch Buhari squander our present and our chil­dren’s future.

“Our nation’s leaders worked hard to clear Nige­ria’s foreign debt after the return of democracy in 1999 and opposition would not allow any government to plunge Nigeria back into another debt.

“It has become manifestly clear to the Nigerian people that what our President Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) needs ideas and competent hands and not the $22.7 billion foreign loan request.

“The problem with Nige­ria is not lack of money but lack of governance capacity in the regime which from all available indices has made our economy worse, securi­ty precarious, and life very cheap.

“This regime is indeed a disaster. It is peopled by polit­ical alleluia boys. We warned of the lack of capacity by the APC and their master whose idea of koboko economics is now outdated.

“It is a government high in sound but empty in ideas parading students of home economics who grandstand as world class economists.

“We have a government that is more interested in its uninhibited quest for power and holding unto power than knowing what to do with the power for the benefit of the people.

“After hijacking the Par­liament, emasculating the judiciary and crushing the electoral process, Nigerians are now faced with the con­sequences of a regime that is hustling like traders in Alaba market for Chinese and other foreign loans.

“Nigeria has now been thrown into a state of econom­ic hiatus and quagmire. This is a loan bazaar, a frivolous borrowing, unsustainable come and chop and modern day slavery.

“Unemployment, insecu­rity, crushing debt burden, unbridled corruption, emas­culation of government insti­tutions, impunity etc are now the order of the day.”

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