The Minority Leader of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has advised the Federal Government to explore trade by barter option in its effort to step up military hardware and train military personnel instead of piling up debts for the country.
The Leader of Opposition in the green chamber through a statement issued by his research and media aide, Wasiu Olanrewaju-Smart on Sunday in Abuja expressed dismay at President Jonathan’s penchant for loans when the country has sovereign wealth fund, reserve and excess oil revenue.
He stated that, “the federal government by setting an illegal benchmark has been creaming off about $ 30 per barrel of our crude oil sales which it puts in an illegal excess crude account. If it insists on cash it should reach into that illegal account. Again it also set up the Sovereign Wealth Fund, a component of which it described as future generation account. Well Madam Minister, the Chibok girls represent the future generation, go into that account if you must. Assuming the National Assembly will allow that. But to incur a further $1billion loan at whatever interest rate, that is one loan too many for our future generation to pay off and the answer is a CAPITAL NO!!!”
Gbajabiamila also said, “the request for $1 billion loan by the President after 3trillion Naira allocated to Defence in 3 years with nothing to show for it, it’s evident that the President and his advisers regard Nigerians as imbeciles (which they are not). For sake of clarity an imbecile is defined as a blockhead or a dunce.”
The lawmaker advised his colleagues in National Assembly to restrain themselves from granting the “perfidious request” and implored the federal government to try exchanging oil for military hardware like other needy countries have done in the past if truly Nigeria has weak military equipment considering the country’s previous budgets for Defence.
“I personally do not think any more cash should pass through government at this time. If indeed more money is needed for the training of our men and women in uniform which I doubt, then we should resort to the time tested trade by barter. This means of commodity exchange continues between countries all over. We can exchange oil for arms if need be.”
“The AL YAMAMAH arms deal between the Saudis and UK wherein a large amount of British military hardware was sold to the Saudi government for 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day comes to mind. So does the oil for arms deal between China and Venezuela and the deal struck by the US in 2011 when over 80 F15 fighter jets were sold to the Royal Saudi Airforce. The deal included training, logistics and maintenance.”
In Gbajabiamila’s further advise to his colleagues in National Assembly to reasons why they should rebuff any move to plunge the country into another debt and elevate corruption, he listed six posers they must consider before taking a stand on the request of executive.
“Firstly, a comprehensive audit of what has happened to all the money allocated by the National Assembly to Defence in the last 3 years must be done immediately. This must be a condition precedent before a kobo is ever approved again.
“Secondly, we have the MTEF which laid out government expenditure framework for the next 3 years. We must stack this alongside this recent request and see if there is any place for such.
“Thirdly, what was the amount of debt forgiveness or forbearance given to Mohammed Abacha? That amount if any must be stacked against the loan sought to determine whether granting same makes any sense.
“Fourthly, what are the conditions for the loan? What is the repayment schedule and who bears the burden? ( rhetorical question)
“Fifthly, what did the recently held world economic forum in Abuja cost government and what were the economic derivatives for government to now turn around months later to ask for a $1billion loan.
“Sixthly, it was reported that government had set up a forensic audit to investigate the alleged missing $20billion from government coffers. This inspite of the fact that the finance minister whilst disputing the quantum of the money admitted she could not account for 10billion. Where are we with the investigation?
“These are questions begging for answer and the National Assembly must get clear answers to them before even considering the request not to talk of rejecting it.”
The House Minority Leader concluded in the statement by cautioning foreign donors from colluding with the executive arm of government in encouraging corruption, “Anyone who accedes to this request and any foreign country that actually gives such a loan in my opinion will be guilty of aiding and abetting corruption. An accessory before and after the fact.”