President Muhammadu Buhari has justified his administration’s borrowing, saying the loans were in national interest.
He stated this, yesterday, at a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the State House, in Abuja.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said after listening to a presentation by PEAC chaired by Prof. Ayo Salami, the President 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.”
He regretted that the failure to provide the infrastructure for effective transportation deprived the country of its well-deserved status as West African hub for air cargo transportation and trans-shipment of goods.
On the issue of the economy, he noted 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 less you earn,” he said.
President Buhari also stressed the position of agriculture in the government’s scheme to reduce joblessness and poverty.
“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 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.