By Akinwunmi King, Augustine Adah, Oladele Ogunsola, Emeka Okafor, Idongesit Ashameri and Joe Nwankwo
Lagos, Ibadan, Umuahia, Uyo, Abuja — Nigerians from across the various segments of the country have rejected President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for approval of the National Assembly to borrow a whooping $1 billion to fight insurgency.
Jonathan had on Wednesday forwarded a letter to the National Assembly, asking the lawmakers to urgently approve a $1 billion external loan for the Federal Government to confront the Boko Haram insurgency.
The President’s letter, seeking the lawmakers’ approval to borrow the money, was read during the plenary in Abuja on Wednesday. He said the money would be used to upgrade the equipment of the Armed Forces.
However, the Lagos State House of Assembly, in a statement, issued by its Chairman, Committee on Information, Strategy, Security and Publicity, Segun Olulade, condemned the President’s request, insisting that if granted, it would put the nation in more debt.
The House noted that though there is no doubt that everyone is seriously concerned about the need to end Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the Northern part of the country, any attempt to put the nation on the track of undue borrowing is not acceptable.
While raising some rhetoric, the lawmakers noted that the Federal Government is gradually making the nation to wear the status of a “prodigal son” by its unnecessary wasteful and undue thirst for money.
“Where has the budget for security operations in the country been going since 1999? With all the claims of a buoyant and robust financial stand of the nation by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance, why has it been so difficult to generate funds internally to step up fight against terrorism?
“What has happened to all the looted money claimed to have been recovered by this government? Why is President Jonathan eager to borrow money before the general elections? What is happening to all the missing money in the country that this government is yet to locate?
“Thousands of questions are seriously begging for answer. The Jonathan government, having been so reckless with money, does not enjoy the confidence of Nigerians over borrowing proposals.
“We urged the National Assembly to reject the proposal in the interest of innocent Nigerians who have been critically battered as recipients of the consequences of financial ineptitude of this administration under President Jonathan,” the statement read in part.
The lawmakers also alerted that as long as corruption thrives, any money borrowed would be squandered by few individuals while the money would have been spent to the last kobo before it even arrives.
They challenged the Federal Government to tell Nigerians what has happened to the increased budgetary allocation for Defence which was raised to the tune of N968.2 billion in the 2014 budget simply because of fight against Boko Haram before proceeding for another borrowing attempt.
The Human Rights Writers’ Association (HURIWA) on its part condemned the plan by President Goodluck Jonathan to source for $1 billion loan to fight insurgency just as it demanded for a forensic probe of the alleged N76 billion CCTV scam.
The group wants the Government to also introduce death penalty for the crime of theft of Defence and Police budgets.
The Rights group also asked for the introduction of a general war tax of at least N1, 000 per working individual [in private and public sectors] and N5,000 per registered companies to help set up a War Trust Fund (WTF) meant for procurement of state-of-the-art information technology-driven facilities and combat weapons for the prosecution of the ongoing counter insurgency war.
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April 21, 2015 //
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