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Protesters in front the UN building in New York on 19 September protesting against the detention of Omoyele Sowore despite court rulings granting him bail. Refusal to obey court orders sends a message to foreign investors that there is no rule of law in Nigeria, say analysts / Photo: Sowore2019

Nigerians to protest in Washington against Buhari’s plan to take new loans

As the government of President Muhammed seeks the approval of the country’s parliament to borrow $30 billion from external creditors, a group of Nigerians will gather at the headquarters of the World Bank on 6 December to protest against the new loans.

According to the Global Coalition for Security and Democracy, Nigeria could be economically colonised if the rate of borrowing continued, Sahara Reporters, an online news site reported.

Coordinator of the group, Frederick Odorige, in a Youtube broadcast, said Nigeria was now like a frog being boiled alive slowly by politicians in the name of debts.

“Those that are in a hurry to borrow today may not be alive when the present and future generation will suffer for it,” he said.

“This is sadly so because those behind the borrowing will steal part of the money and hand them over to their children while the majority will continue to suffer. 

“We must avoid economic colonialism by learning from countries that partly surrendered their sovereignty as a result of debts.

“We must avoid debt trap diplomacy before the Nigerian Government uses all of us as collateral.

” We must rise up now before we lose our national airports and oil wells to creditors.

“After writing off our $18bn debt by the Paris Club in 2005, unfortunately, our government went back to borrowing, with little or nothing to show for what was borrowed.

“Loan is good only when we see what the money was used for.

“We are currently indebted to the tune of over $81bn and the borrowing continues and this is clearly as a result of mismanagement and corruption. We are borrowing to finance our national budget.

“Some persons that were indicted for various corruption cases have been appointed by the current governments as Ministers. These are the same persons that will manage that fund.

“We shall petition the World Bank to thoroughly investigate this allegation of quid pro quo.  

“The protest shall commence from 10:00am Eastern time, December 6, 2019 at the World Bank premises in Washington.”

International experts have been warning against a looming debt crisis in Africa with many countries on the continent having piled up debts that they may not in the future be able to pay back. Nigeria’s borrowing spree has been causing worry among its citizens too. The country’s current debt is put at about $85 billion (as end of June 2019) and about a third of federal revenue is used to service government’s debt.

Economists have begun talking of ‘Nigeria’s coming economic crisis’ even though it has not yet gained global attention. Since more than 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings comes from oil and gas export, experts say a sustained fall in world prices of the commodities could cause a serious economic crisis for the country.

The Buhari administration has been blamed for not carrying out needed economic reforms to encourage investment in the economy which is growing at a slower rate than its population. The country is also perceived as not respecting the rule of law, such as by disobeying court orders, and arbitrarily cancelling policies, which scare investors.

Austin Ohaegbu

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