Senate President Ahmad Lawan has said the National Assembly would only approve loans they could ascertain their targeted projects, saying there would be no frivolous support of intents of the executive.
Lawan was addressing reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss important national issues, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the National Assembly would always observe due diligence before giving approval to the executive for any loan request.
He said such requests would be subjected to thorough scrutiny to be sure they are necessary and when approved, the use of the loans would be monitored through oversight.
He said as a poor country, Nigeria would only be able to meet most of its development targets by acquiring loans as it could not over-tax the citizens and yet unable to strike public/private partnerships because of the unfavourable atmosphere across the country.
“So, we’ll not be frivolous and will not take it lightly to just approve any loan. Our options are really very limited as a country. First, we don’t have the necessary revenues, Nigeria is poor, we shouldn’t deceive ourselves.
“Nigeria is not rich, given the circumstances we live in, given the challenges we have; our resources are so low, our revenues are so low and therefore the option of not doing anything, just to sit because we have no money, we shouldn’t go for infrastructure development is not even an option worthy of consideration. You cannot keep the economy stagnant.
“Two, you cannot, in my view and judgment, tax Nigerians further for you to raise the money for infrastructure development. Other countries do that, but we have serious situation across the country, so you cannot put taxes on people.
“The other option is public-private partnership. You need to create the environment to attract investors to come into our country because of the security challenges we face today. Not many investors would like to come to Nigeria, in fact, even those inside Nigeria may not like to invest properly in this sector of infrastructure development.
“So, the only option left is for us to borrow, borrow responsibly, utilise prudently and economically, and ensure that the projects are self-sustaining that they can pay back the loans that Nigerian economy will benefit from the implementation of such infrastructure development.
“So, that’s the only option we have and I believe that Nigerians will understand, of course, it’s not desirable, it’s not something that we like too, no Nigerian would like to have, in fact, even an individual not like to be on loan, but when you must, then you have to, and I want to be very practical here that we do so with that feeling of ‘this is our country, we must move forward, we must provide the enabling environment for our economy to grow and Nigeria to develop,” said Lawan.