The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has justified the continuous borrowing of President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, saying those ramping up the criticism on the president’s administration on borrowing are insincere.
According to the minister, the Buhari administration is not borrowing for recurrent expenditure or to pay salaries, rather to build world class infrastructure that will benefit generations of Nigerians.
Mohammed explained that they had a lot to show for the loans taken, including the standard-gauge rail lines between Lagos and Ibadan as well as Abuja and Kaduna which he said were running well.
The minister said this on Thursday in Maiduguri at a Town Hall Meeting to address vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure. The event was attended by Borno Governor, Babagana Zulun, his Deputy, Usman Kadafur, traditional, religious and political leaders and other stakeholders.
According to him, today, we have new airport terminals in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt, the Itakpe-Warri rail line that was abandoned for decades is running.
“We have well over 13,000km of federal roads under repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction and there is a road project in every state. Today, we have started the countdown to when the 2nd Niger Bridge, which successive administrations have built only on paper, will be completed. The list of projects we are handling with the loans we obtained is long,’’ he said.
The minister said that it was an irony that those criticising the administration performed abysmally in terms of modernising the nation’s infrastructure when they served at a time earnings were multiples of what they were getting currently
He said that if the previous administration had embarked on the kind of infrastructure development the Buhari government engaged in, there would have been no reason to borrow.
“For example, in their time, they claimed to have spent billions of Naira in building infrastructure, but as one can see, their infrastructure projects were only on paper. Today, we are still saddled with looking for resources to build the same infrastructure for which they claimed to have allocated huge resources. We will not be deterred by the antics of those who believe they can play politics with everything.’’
Mohammed said that the town hall meeting was the third and final edition of the three-series town hall meeting dedicated to addressing the wanton destruction of public infrastructure
He said that efforts by the present administration to address massive infrastructure deficit the country was facing were being thwarted by vandals and their collaborators.
The minister said that Borno was chosen as venue because Maiduguri had been cut off from public power supply since January due to the destruction of power infrastructure by terrorists.
“The terrorists who are destroying power and telecommunication facilities in Borno, have chosen to weaponise these attacks in order to inflict the maximum hardship on the people and also slow down the advances of our gallant troops in decimating them,’’ he said.
Mohammed said that the town hall meeting would help to create in the public mind that government property were citizens’ property and must be protected for the benefit of all.
He said that it would help to sensitise communities, especially those where infrastructure were located to be conscious of the need to protect them.
Mohammed underscored the need to expose, arrest and prosecute all those who engage in buying pilfered infrastructure items along with those who bring to them to sell and subject them to the full wrath of the law.
The minister said that the town hall meeting would encourage the larger citizenry to support the widespread campaign on the protection and ownership of public infrastructure and assets.