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NIGERIA: RETURNING TO THE DEBT TRAP?

By NBF News
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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar deserves commendation and spoke the minds of many enlightened Nigerians for his timely, courageous and informed observations on the 2011 budget proposal of President Goodluck Jonathan.

To show that he is a statesman and patriotic Nigerian, Alhaji Atiku who is contesting the PDP Presidential ticket with President Jonathan chose not to play politics with his apt observations pertaining to the shortcomings of the budget, but like a patriot and good citizen wrote down his observations and comments and sent these to the President; who is also his political adversary!. This is a mark of true brotherhood.

Moving on however, there is need to call the Jonathan administration to order over its economic policy and priorities. Before the release of Budget 2011, in about six months of his stewardship, President Jonathan had conveniently wiped out our no-debt status and firmly planted the country once again in the embarrassing club of debtor developing countries. If one remembers the hardship that Nigerians went through and the relief of the nation when former President Obasanjo made it a cardinal policy of his administration to pay off Nigeria's debt and free the country from the latter's' complications, then it would be clear that what Nigeria needs is not another romance with the World's lending institutions.

No nation can achieve greatness nor any individual enjoy freedom when there is a debt overhang bothering the actions and activities of the said entity.

No one knows the guiding philosophy of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, but as Alhaji Atiku has pointed out, President Jonathan would be doing the nation a huge disservice if he predicts the implementation of the 2011 budget on huge borrowing from abroad.

What will the borrowed money be used for?
And what are the repayment plans?
One will like to advice President Jonathan that relying on extensive foreign loans to finance recurrent expenditure cannot be in the national interest as such loans will mortgage the country's development. If the country generates enough revenue through taxes and other sources for recurrent purposes, then government should sit down and trim that expenditure around available revenue that will not further deepen the country's foreign debt profile. Every effort should be made to protect Nigeria from the shackles of foreign debt except where such debt are for the purpose of providing critical infrastructure that will help the development of the economy in the years to come.

•Caesar Iheanacho wrote from Maitama, Abuja.