Fashola Slams Government Critics
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has hit out at those criticizing the borrowing policy of the federal government.
He described such people as “backward economists” who don’t understand how national economies are supposed to be run.
In his submission, Fashola who spoke during a meeting at the Lagos Business School (LBS) said the federal government should rather be commended for spending on improving the nation’s infrastructure.
“Today, the government is constructing roads in every state of Nigeria and while revenues are a challenge to prompt completion, some experts who have not successfully shown they can run a small business moan the loudest about Nigeria’s borrowing to fund infrastructure investment,” he said.
“A Nigerian has borrowed billions of dollars to build a refinery, petrochemical plant, fertiliser plant and gas processing plant, yet some backyard economists complain that a country whose population is in the hundreds of millions is borrowing too much to fix rail, roads, ports (air and sea) and power.
“They come to the public space to talk about the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and infrastructure of the United States and OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. But they are ominously silent on America’s public debt that exceeds $21 trillion.”
Naija News recalls according to data made public by the Debt Management Office (DMO), in about four years, the country’s external debt soared to $25.61bn on March 31, 2019 from $10.32bn on June 30, 2015.
Recall as previously reported by this online platform, Nigeria’s total debt profile as at March 31, 2019 as released by the DMO, currently stands at ₦24.947 Trillion.
However, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed said the increasing debt profile is not a problem, rather insisting revenue is the problem for the country.
However, Fashola noted that countries of the World owe an obligation to its citizens in providing needed infrastructural facilities and may have to borrow in order to do so. He sighted examples of federal roads such as the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Apapa-Oworonshoki expressway, Ikorodu-Sagamu and Lagos-Badagry which were built about four decades ago and have outlived their design lives, therefore in need of repairs.
He challenged business students at the LBS to seize the public space from “those half-baked economists and enlighten the public about the necessity to invest before you can claim a dividend.”
“What we now hear is the inconvenience, instead of the acknowledgment that government is now responding and providing the service we all craved for almost two decades,” he said.
“Please be aware that all those roads under construction are now construction sites and, in the world that we now live in, safety on construction sites is now a big issue.
“Not only for motorists who have to drive through them but also for our brothers and sisters who are working there to deliver the infrastructure we desperately crave. A camera sees only what the man behind the lens wants it to see. So, instead of an inconvenience, I see service, with the hope that things will get better.”