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PENGASSAN decries Nigeria’s improper deployment of loans

PENGASSAN decries Nigeria’s improper deployment of loans

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has decried the country’s failure to properly apply its local and foreign loans which, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO) stood at N97.34 trillion as of December 2023.

Festus Osifo, president of PENGASSAN, who spoke at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the association in Abuja on Thursday, the high borrowings and the consequent increasing debt profile, both at the federal and state levels, is a time bomb with catastrophic implications.

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“It is worse that these borrowings are not invested judiciously or with proper accountability. Countries that have benefited from debt and improved their economies did so because they borrowed with purpose and accounted for that purpose with returns to offset their loans.

“The borrowing rate calls for deep concern, especially with the reported increase in FAAC allocations and internally generated revenue. The increased debt profile approaching over N107 trillion, with no corresponding evidence of proper use of the loans is a show of purposeless borrowings and a speedy destruction of our tomorrow and this should be halted,” he said.

Osifo speaking further said that borrowings were supposed to be tied to projects that will generate funds for the liquidation of such loans or stimulate other economic activities that will lead to an improvement in the nation’s GDP, noting that it was not so in Nigeria.

“The federal and state governments should as a matter of urgency stop trading away the future of our nation and proactively use resources within their means to meet the obligations they owe Nigerians rather than this purposeless borrowing.”

Commenting on the call for state police as a tool to check insecurity in the country, Osifo said that states unable to pay wages of their workers should be mindful of the additional wage responsibility, state that policing would add. For him, they must invent creative means of financing this initiative when it becomes a reality.

He explained that having state police could lead to improved security, as it would make it easier to respond to local security threats and address crime at a grassroots level.

He also noted that state police officers would be more familiar with the local community and culture, enabling them to better understand and address the needs of the people they serve.

He, however, warned of some of the dangers inherent in state police, which according to him includes: potential for abuse of power; lack of uniform standards; coordination issues as well as the potential for conflict.

“Overall, we welcome this development as we urge the National Assembly to provide the legislative framework that will help mitigate the drawbacks highlighted above,” he said.

Speaking further, Osifo said that the Association will interrogate the recent increase in electricity tariff as approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

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Musiliu Oseni, the vice chairman of the Commission who announced the increase in a press briefing, explained that having reviewed the electricity supply to customers, had downgraded some customers from ‘Band A feeder’ to Band B. This he explained was because they were not receiving up to 20 hours of electricity daily.

Oseni further explained that the new rate at N225/kWh is expected to affect only customers under the Band A feeder, who are offered at least 20 hours electricity per day.

For Osifo, the increase which is almost at 300 percent is outrageous and sudden. “The new tariff they said is for those within Band A, that receive up to 20 hours power supply daily but we will interrogate this further because as of today, just jumping from N66 to about N225 I think it’s quite enormous.

“And we need to also check this, what is the cost of powering generators today, is it up to N225? So we think that the government should exist for the purpose of serving the people, so looking at it peripherally, we think that the price hike is quite astronomical.”