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Published On: Wed, Apr 8th, 2020

COVID-19: Nigeria’s plan to borrow $6.9b, a delusion, says Atiku

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By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has said it is delusory for the federal government to want to borrow $6.9 billion at this time, stressing that no one has that type of money to throw about at this moment.
Rather, Atiku said that Nigeria must insist that the Abacha loots, held back by various Western governments, must be immediately and unconditionally returned to the country.
This is even as Atiku declared that Africa cannot afford to think of falling back on China, or the Western world in the face of the coronavirus crisis facing most parts of the world.
The former Vice President stated these in a press statement entitled, “What Africa Must do to Mitigate the Damaging Effects of Corona Virus”, which he issued yesterday in Abuja.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last year’s election, pointed out that as it stands today, the world is too preoccupied with its challenges to prioritise Africa, and so we have to prioritise ourselves.
According to him, “As it stands today, the world is too preoccupied with its challenges to prioritise Africa, and so we have to prioritise ourselves.
“The issue of Nigeria wanting to borrow $6.9 billion at this time shows the almost delusory state of our government.
“No one has that type of money to throw about.
“Why is it that the Nigerian government is always quick to want to borrow at every instance?
“It shows a lazy mindset and an inability to take those sacrifices necessary to get the economy into shape.
“Worse still, it proves that we do not, as of yet, have the ability to think outside the box for genuine solutions.
“We cannot be looking to borrow huge sums at the same time our officials are taking delivery of foreign made luxury cars.
“We cannot be considered a serious country when we refuse to cut down on profligacy and instead seek outside help to fund our inefficiencies” he declared.
Continuing, Atiku said, “We must insist that the Abacha loots held back by various Western governments must be immediately and unconditionally returned to Nigeria.
“We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands. I believe that President Trump is a reasonable man. He knows that if nothing is done to avoid the foreseeable dislocation of African economies, the next wave of mass migration to the United States would not be from Mexico.
“The worst thing we can do now is to wring our hands and look to outsiders. Not now. The leadership in Abuja and the rest of Africa cannot afford to be lethargic while the rest of the world is scrambling to save what they can of their economies.
“In Nigeria, it is already clear that we must abandon the 2020 budget and come up with a more realistic budget. “Our oil benchmark is way off the mark. And we are certainly no longer in a position to budget ₦100 billion plus for our legislatures and almost ₦50 billion for the Presidency (in truth, we were never in a position to do that)”, he advised.
Other African nations, the former Vice President stressed, must likewise re-budget and reassign and reduce expenditure, saying, “We can not spend on luxuries when our necessities have exploded”.
He added, ‘We are at a crossroads, and we need to think and act our way into taking the right road.
“History will forgive us if we make the wrong decisions, but it certainly will not forgive us if we take no decisions in the misguided belief that others will save us.
“If Nigeria does not save herself in this season of a global emergency, we may find that a new world order will emerge and we will no longer be the Giant of Africa.
“We may not even be the Giant of West Africa if we do not take decisive action immediately”, he said.
Faced with this crisis, Atiku maintained that “Africa cannot even think of falling back on China, or the West. When a country like the US is struggling to supply its own healthcare workers with personal protective equipment, Africa will not feature high on its priority. “Where China is wondering how to explain itself to the world when this dies down, our challenges will be far from their minds.
“We must fall back on ourselves, or we will fall headlong. We must take responsibility for navigating our way out of a challenge that was forced on us from outside the continent.
“This is the time for every money made in Africa to stay in Africa. We have hospitals to build. We have economies to reboot. We have citizens to care for and return to work.
“We certainly should not be sending money out of Africa and into Asia and the West. Not now and not for the foreseeable future”, he maintained strongly.

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