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We can only borrow to survive, “Nigeria is poor” – Senator Lawan

Senate President Ahmad Lawan has insisted that borrowing is the only way the country can fund its infrastructural needs.

Speaking with journalists after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock villa on Thursday, Lawan said Nigeria’s options to raise funds are “very limited”.

The senate president said the country is “poor”, and increasing tax to raise more revenue is not an option for now.

“Our options are really very limited as a country. First, we don’t have the necessary revenues. Nigeria is poor; we shouldn’t deceive ourselves,” he said.

“Nigeria is not rich, given the circumstances we live in, given the challenges we have. Our resources are so low; our revenues are so low, and therefore, the option of not doing anything, just to sit — because we have no money, we shouldn’t go for infrastructure development — is not even an option worthy of consideration.

“You cannot keep the economy stagnant. Two, you cannot, in my view and judgement, tax Nigerians further for you to raise the money for infrastructure development. Other countries do that, but we have serious situations across the country, so you cannot put taxes on people.

We can only borrow to fund infrastructure , "Nigeria is poor" - Senator Lawan

“The other option is public-private partnership. You need to create the environment to attract investors to come into our country; because of the security challenges we face today, not many investors would like to come to Nigeria.

“In fact, even those inside Nigeria may not like to invest properly in this sector of infrastructure development.

“So, the only option left is for us to borrow — borrow responsibly, utilise prudently and economically, and ensure that the projects are self-sustaining so that they can pay back the loans, so that the Nigerian economy will benefit from the implementation of such infrastructure development.”

The senate president added that all hands must be on deck for the country’s economy to develop for the good of all.

Lawan said the national assembly will be “stiff” with the executive, if the loan requests approved by the lawmakers are mismanaged.

“When we approve loans, they also, at their own level of the executive level, are able to be responsible because when we detect anything going wrong, we will not show any understanding. We will be stiff; we’ll be rigid,” he said.

The senate president also noted that the national assembly is working to pass the electoral act amendment bill before it embarks on its annual recess in July.

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