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Buhari defends huge borrowing to fund infrastructure

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration’s borrowing to fund infrastructure was in order.

He said the government took loans in the interest of the country to solve the dire shortfall in infrastructure.

Buhari, who spoke on Tuesday at a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the State House, in Abuja, said the country must fix its roads to save lives from soaring road accidents.

“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,’’ he said.

Buhari, who spoke after listening to a presentation by PEAC chaired by Professor Ayo Salami, 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.

Buhari also spoke on the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

““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 more you earn,” he said.

Buhari also stressed the position of agriculture in the government’s scheme to reduce joblessness and poverty.

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He said for the nation 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 land, 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 related to energy (electricity) and fuel.

He said the Federal government took such decisions because it placed the country above politics.

“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,” he said.

In his presentation, Prof Salami highlighted the Council’s recommendations on poverty reduction and stimulation of non-debt investment inflows, as promised at their last meeting.

The council recommended steps for the effective implementation of government’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, as well as measures to curb poverty disparity in Nigeria.

The council promised to set out a full policy paper that would, in the first instance, stop more Nigerians from falling into poverty and thereafter, further plan on reducing the poverty headcount in the country.

The PEAC also outlined a number of measures aimed at aggressively increasing the country’s non-debt investment inflow, including measures to improve investor perception of the country and the proposed establishment of a 5 billion – 10 billion dollars investment and growth fund to invest in.

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The PEAC used the opportunity of the meeting to express support and solidarity with the administration on its recent policies.

Pmnews

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