‘Please give us ₦17 trillion’ | State governors are fast learning from FG’s borrowing prowess

One thing the Nigerian government is known for is its penchant for borrowing and total ignorance of the fact that the country could diversify and increase its IGR. The Federal government has often been the culprit, and now, state governments are following suit. 

The 36 state governors late November 2020, were said to have proposed to borrow 17 trillion from the pension fund and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for infrastructural development during the 22 Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Hybrid meeting, and this has got Nigerians concerned.

Responding to this December 6, 2020, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently instruct the Director-General and Board of the National Pension Commission (NPC) to use their statutory powers to stop the 36 state governors from borrowing from the pension funds.

The development has sparked outrage among Nigerians – with many supporting SERAP. It is quite understandable why Nigerians are enraged about the governors’ decision to borrow from the pension funds, especially when we consider the plight of retired public servants who spent decades serving the country only to live in deprivation in their later years.  

Up until now, the government still owes most of these elderly pensioners whose funds are to be tampered with. Most of them have sad tales to tell as a result. In addition to this, there are those who fear for their future; this group is yet to retire, but they have been making their pension contributions to secure their future upon retirement. The sad fact is that, despite all their contributions, there is no guarantee that they would enjoy the benefits at the end of the day – and the effect is rippling.

Also, considering how enormous our international debt profile currently is, there is no guarantee that the government will prioritise repaying the local debts, and who gets to suffer for it? Since successive governments in Nigeria are known for their lack of continuity and trading blames at any given opportunity to shy away from responsibility; any change of government could also easily forgo local debts inherited from the previous government. 

No doubt, the government’s constant borrowing is hurting Nigerians in more ways than one. With an already crippled economy and the untold hardship upon Nigerians, they are still making moves to impoverish the people further, rather than alleviate their sufferings. 

It makes one wonder why they would rather borrow from the pension funds than make use of their internally generated revenues for infrastructural projects. As at 2019, FG reportedly owed pensioners over ₦400 billion, and now, ₦17 trillion is about to be borrowed by state governors. The government needs to be more responsible in their spending and borrowing, and prioritize the welfare of its citizens.

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