President Muhammadu Buhari has justified his government’s borrowing, saying that it is necessary to finance infrastructure.
Speaking at a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) on Tuesday at the presidential villa, Abuja, he explained that his government took loans in the interest of the country to solve the dire shortfall in infrastructure.
According to him, the country must fix its roads to save lives from soaring road accidents.
He said: “We have so many challenges with infrastructure. We just have to take loans to do roads, rail and power, so that investors will find us attractive and come here to put their money.”
A statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) said the President’s remark followed a presentation by PEAC chaired by Professor Ayo Salami.
He regretted that the failure to provide the infrastructure for effective transportation deprived the country of its well-deserved status as the West African hub for Air cargo transportation and trans-shipment of goods.
On the issue of the economy, President Buhari noted the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of the government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Buhari added: “We have to accept that decision; otherwise they (Middle-East producers) can flood the market and make the product unviable. So we have cooperated with what we get. With oil, we are in a difficult situation. The politics of oil is that the less you produce, the less you earn.”
President Buhari also stressed the position of agriculture in the government’s scheme to reduce joblessness and poverty.
He further said: “For us to bounce back to productivity, especially in agriculture, the unemployed with many of them uneducated had to be persuaded to go into agriculture.
“If we hadn’t gone back to the lands we would have been in trouble by now. That is why we virtually stopped the importation of food thereby saving jobs and foreign exchange.”
The President also broached the issue of COVID-19 pandemic and how it necessitated the recent government policies as they relate to energy (electricity) and fuel.
He said the Federal government took such decisions because it places the country above politics, adding: “COVID has reduced us to the same level as developed countries.
“We are lucky we went back to the land. We eat what we produce. We are doing our best to secure the country and provide infrastructure for investment to be viable in the country.”
Commending the Chairman and the members of the council for their patriotism and service to the nation, President Buhari pledged to continue to draw from their wisdom, knowledge and experiences as the nation deals with challenging economic times.