Group fears govt borrowings sliding citizens into poverty


Lawrence Nwimo, Awka

Civil Rights Concern has raised an alarm over what it described as a gradual slide of the Southeast region into suffering and abject poverty.

The Executive Director of the nongovernmental group, Mr Okey Onyeka disclosed this while briefing Journalists in Awka, Anambra State capital on Thursday.

Presenting his organization’s report entitled: ‘Rising Debt and Rising Poverty: The Souvenir of the Political Class’, Onyeka disclosed that there has been a huge accumulation of both domestic and foreign debts in the region over time.

He said the huge local and international loans obtained by the executive arm of government did not translate into a better life for the people.

Onyeka lamented that State Houses of Assemblies alone cannot effectively check on the executive arm of government when it comes to borrowing and usage of borrowefundsnd.

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He said that executives across the country especially in the South-East have successfully pocketed the House of Assemblies thereby making it difficult for any effective oversight role to be carried out.

Okey Onyeka

Onyeka said that things are already getting harder for citizens because most of the governors are borrowing to show off rather than creating wealth with loans taken.

“Nigeria has been moving from fixed developmental plan to rolling plan, the debt profile has been othe n consistent increase, if debt profile is on the rise and poverty is also rising simultaneously, it is an indication of poor husbandary of the nation’s resources.

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“There is practically nothing to show in the Southeast for the huge debt profile of the five states in the zone, all these are happening because the people and the stakeholders have not been taking keen interest on the issue of budgeting in their states.

“The present reality has made it imperative for the executive arm of government to be held responsible to ensure that loan taken are spent on specific productive purposes, rather than investing huge resources on servicing loans. The citizens should not stay aloof, they should join CRC to track the performance of loans,” he said.

Onyeka suggested that moving forward, efforts must be made to
ensure that domestic debts are tied to identifiable projects, while foreign loans should be more productively used.

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He said, “There is need for well focused use of debts in funding public programmes to reduce the poverty rate on the citizens now and in the future.

“We believe in budget democracy whereby citizens have a say on what the government does with the revenue it collects and what projects it is funding with debts. This will enable citizens estimate the performance and value added to their lives by projects funded through debts.”

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