Babatunde Raji Fashola, honorable Minister of Works and Housing is currently under attack by Nigerians on Twitter for faulting former President, Olusegun Obasanjo using Paris Club’s $12 billion debt cancellation to pay the nation’s creditors rather than using the fund to build roads and rails.
According to Fashola, previous governments which he said had access to a lot of money, under-invested in the country’s infrastructure, saying if he had the $12 billion, like the Olusegun Obasanjo government in 2005, he would have built rails and more roads.
The former Lagos State governor, who has been minister under the present administration since its inception in 2015, spoke during an interview on Channels Television.
In 2005/2006, the Paris Club wrote off $18 billion or 60 per cent of the $30 billion Nigeria owed the cartel, after months of negotiations, a development touted as one of the biggest achievements of the Obasanjo administration.
Fashola said that rather than deploy the funds prudently, the Obasanjo government decided to pay the country’s creditors to the detriment of the country, insisting that today, Nigeria has gone back to borrowing because the governments in the past ignored investment in infrastructure.
He said rather, the Obasanjo government decided to pay the country’s creditors to the detriment of the country, insisting that today, Nigeria has gone back to borrowing because the governments in the past ignored investment in infrastructure.
Although he did not mention names, Fashola specifically said that in 2005 (when Obasanjo was president), Nigeria had the opportunity to revamp its roads and rails, but rather was pursuing debt cancellation as state policy.
“At one time in this country, in 2005, we had $12 billion. At that time, these roads were bad. At that time there was no rail. But what did we do as a matter of state policy, it was just to pay creditors to our own detriment.
“I can only imagine if I had the opportunity then with $12 billion in my hand, we would have built rails and roads. What this government is dealing with, which I am responsible for the road side, is the infrastructure that will be enduring.
“Without the rails, we will not have roads that last. Trucks and heavy cargo is not meant for our roads. The jurisdictions we want to be like, don’t transport cargo, containers on their roads. That’s why I am so optimistic about tomorrow that if we advance this significantly, there will be a better tomorrow.
“We lost the opportunity to invest $12 billion and then we went back to borrow and the problems haven’t gone away and they will have to be dealt with,” he maintained.
While defending the current administration’s tendency for borrowing, Fashola argued that the assertion that Buhari was mortgaging the future of the nation’s children was untenable, saying that the government was only ‘positioning’ for tomorrow’s children.
“Every generation that’s responsible enough like us must position for tomorrow’s children. We should not leave this for them to come and do because it will be more expensive.
“That said, I think the way to go is to say that at the appropriate time, a tolling policy will be developed because for you to toll you must ordinarily develop alternatives. Government must also understand that not all of its infrastructure is of a commercial kind,” he stated.
The minister stressed that the Buhari government would continue to do its best to ensure that the country’s infrastructure is developed and brought at par with modern transportation systems like what obtains in other parts of the world.
How Nigerians are reacting to Fashola’s comment
Fashola is telling you Nigerians that Nigeria is heading for a debt default.
Debt servicing to revenue is 99%, obviously we can't sustain it.
When Nigerian politicians openly support nonsense, think about the worst that could possibly happen.
It will happen. https://t.co/IjwFgL7UeR
— William (@_SirWilliam_) October 3, 2020
Fashola's spirit animal is a Strawberry. Very overrated. https://t.co/2xgcD1wKYc
— Gene Grey (@EuginhoCortez) October 3, 2020
Whatever happened to Fashola? Very worried that a senior minister cannot comprehend opportunity cost.
We were offered $12bn for 30bn. Effectively a gift of $18bn he now thinks we should have forgone. I hope this kind of reasoning isn't driving our current debt management. https://t.co/L860MLmXgJ
— Amara Nwankpa (@Nwankpa_A) October 3, 2020
So Fashola came out of hiding to tell us that governance is not magic coming, from someone he said he can fix Nigerian power problem in six month and failed shameful and woefully at it. Fashola will eventually go into oblivion.
— uneku "Clark Kent" (@UnekuE) October 3, 2020
This is Fashola Lagos .A state that is richer than many countries in Africa .A state that is richer & bigger than some countries in Europe. A state surrounded by water ,yet no govt water system .That is the share Fashola and his gangs had ruined with debt .Danger zone beware pic.twitter.com/voK3bi3Wx6
— Conscience of Truth PHD (@alphaolive) October 3, 2020
Now they are even blaming OBJ-Atiku for making Nigeria debt free, since debt is their only stock in trade. Please can Fashola give a road or rail they working are working on that was not initiated by OBJ-Atiku and continued by GEJ ?! https://t.co/M9JxOaPkpO
— Olushola Olufolabi (@olushola_shola) October 3, 2020
Out of Nigeria’s 108,000km of surfaced roads the FG has just 32,000km or 18%. 82% belongs to states and LGs. If the FG fixes the 32,000km / 18% Nigeria will still have terrible roads.
Out of the over 2000 government hospitals in Nigeria, the FG has just less than 75.
— Dr. Guendouzi ( The Cerebral Assassin ) (@fimiletoks) October 2, 2020
Nigerians are complaining that this regime has plunged the country into debt trap.
Fashola is saying OBJ shouldn't have paid off part of Paris Club debt to get debt forgiveness.
APC is taking Nigeria back to 1999.
6 years of APC misrule
— IKECHUKWU (@iykimo) October 3, 2020
Fashola has become the "Nza bird that has challenged his chi to a wrestling match." His foolishness is questioning the wisdom of the former President Obasanjo in settling our debt of $12bn. His wisdom cannot query the unaccounted borrowing and stealing in this administration. https://t.co/EtjcHpnS4O
— Concerned citizen (@aelinwa) October 3, 2020