By Ben Ezeamalu
The House of Representatives will approve President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow $29.9 billion (about N12 trillion) to fund capital projects between 2016 and 2019, Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila has said.
Addressing his constituents in Lagos on Monday, Mr. Gbajabiamila said the House would seek possible means of funding the 2016 budget, including the borrowing plan of the federal government.
“Borrowing to finance infrastructural projects is not an irresponsible act, Lagos State did same and the concomitant development is obvious,” said Mr. Gbajabiamila, representing Surulere Federal Constituency 1.
“The House of Representatives will respond to Mr. President’s requests in the interest of Nigerians and quickly set the process in motion for its committees to carry out appropriate oversight functions on all project executing agencies until 2016 budget is fully implemented according to law.
“Our interest in attracting federal presence to our constituencies is same as Mr. President’s resolve to keep his campaign promises so Nigerians can be assured that both arms of government will work harmoniously to bring the country out of economic recession soon.”
Mr. Buhari had on October 25 written to the National Assembly seeking approval to borrow $29.9 billion to finance the nation’s infrastructure development.
The president’s letter said it had become necessary to resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financial gap, adding that the monies would be applied to key infrastructure projects including power, railway and road project amongst others.
Mr. Gbajabiamila, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, spoke at a grassroots empowerment event he organised for his constituents tagged ‘Changing Lives through Grassroot Support.’
Speaking to journalists at the sidelines during the ceremony, Mr. Gbajabiamila insisted that governments all over the world use borrowed money to drive their budgets.
“You have budget deficits all over the world, even in the most advanced democracies. You need that money especially in the times of recession, you have to borrow money to make money, so I don’t have a problem with the borrowing,” the lawmaker said.
“If you look at the borrowing also, it has a lot to do with the north-east, unless we want to play ostrich and lie to ourselves. If you’ve been to the north east, the devastation will take a lot of money to rebuild that place to what it was before.”
Mr. Gbajabiamila accused previous governments of destroying the country’s economy through bad leadership.
“As much as many people in the opposition do not want us to talk about the mismanagement of the past, there is a past before the present, so reference must be made to this.
Femi Gbajabiamila”Nigerians need to know depth of the rot we inherited to appreciate what the APC is doing to recover stolen funds and put the country on a path of recovery.
“Even though the identified stolen funds and asset cannot be spent by government until all court cases are dispensed, the APC is continuing to work hard to stimulate the economy.”
At the ceremony, more than 200 people received grinding machines, sewing machines, hairdressing equipment, generators, motorcycles, tricycles among others. Another 241 beneficiaries got N25,000 each.
Mr. Gbajabiamila said the beneficiaries would overcome the economic recession with proper planning and use of the equipment.
“To those who are not privileged to be part of this set of beneficiaries, be rest assured that your turn will come.”