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By Soni Daniel – Abuja
As opinions differ over the continued drawdown of huge loans by the Nigerian government, a former Minister, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to make the most out of the various sums his administration has borrowed since it came to power in 2015.
Gbagi, who was the Minister of State for Education under President Goodluck Jonathan, said in an interview in Abuja on Sunday that there was nothing wrong with the President taking loans from willing lenders to work for the country but that such money must be used for specific, concrete and measurable projects in order to justify the loans.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the President taking loans to develop the country but there is a need to use the various loans judiciously and transparently in order that the present and future generations of Nigerians do not pay back the money for nothing tangible,” the former minister cautioned.
On the performance of Buhari in the last five years, Gbagi said it was gratifying that God had strengthened Buhari’s health and enabled him to give more attention to state matters than in previous times when he was down and asked Nigerians to pray for him to succeed in giving the country strong leadership.
According to Gbagi, Nigeria would suffer if Buhari fails to tackle the myriad of challenges currently facing Nigeria.
He said: “I believe strongly that Buhari as a leader of a big nation like Nigeria has a lot of challenges. But I want to thank God for the way he has helped him to stabilise in the past few months and face the governance of Nigeria better.
“If Buhari fails, Nigerians would suffer and that is why I encourage Nigerians to continue to pray to God to give the President good health to be stronger and better to face the numerous challenges facing Nigeria and to be able to bring more success to the country,” Gbagi said.
The former minister also extended the same prayer to the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifaenyi Okowa, as he enters the second year of his second tenure, saying that the governor had already demonstrated strong leadership that had propelled the state to a higher height in the last five years.
But he prayed further that God would help Governor Okowa to identify and hand over to a man with the right character and disposition to lift Delta State to a lofty height at the end of his administration.
It will be recalled that many Nigerians from the political divide have kicked against Buhari’s latest request to the National Assembly to approve a further loan request of N5.5 billion to fund this year’s budget, which has been virtually scuppered by the effects of COVID-19.
The request came barely a month after the National Assembly had approved a loan request of N850 billion for the Federal Government with a $22.79bn loan demand currently pending before the House of Representatives.
However, the Debt Management Office has clarified that the N850 billion loan is not a new loan but a conversion of planned external loan to domestic borrowing.
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