Biblically, it is very clear that borrowing portends servitude. And we are instructed that we should owe no man anything but to love them (Romans 13:8). The English man believes that he who goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing. The rich countries will always rule over the poor countries and the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).
Nigeria is not poor. God has richly endowed Nigeria with numerous resources and blessings but the political leadership in Nigeria has put the country in a mess. In 2015, the APC came in with a campaign of ‘change’ slogan. And after almost eight years, nothing changed in Nigeria instead things grew worse. President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC could not stop oil theft, fuel scarcity, banditry and terrorism; corruption did not stop. Everyone now wants a New Nigeria characterized by inclusion, justice, equity, fairness and prosperity.
If you have been to the mini-markets and see how revenue collectors threaten and intimidate petty-traders in the name of trying to collect revenue for the government, then you will realize the amount of money the government generates in a day.
Even sellers who display their goods on wheelbarrows without any table or shop pay their taxes. Throughout the federation, before you can do anything with any federal institution or agency, you must generate a remittal for STA – Single Treasury Account. Moreover, these are not to justify claims that loans or borrowings are not necessary.
Debt consolidation is one of the reasons for taking out a personal loan but the government take loans for a variety of reasons. It ranges from a desire to accelerate capital spending to a policy of economic stabilization. Governments may choose to raise some of their resources by borrowing rather than taxation.
Most countries today run an annual budget deficit, and the deficits have tended to increase in size. Federal and State governments borrow to pay for infrastructure, rather than use annual tax collections and other revenues. Public buildings, roads, railways and bridges are used for decades but entail large upfront costs; borrowing enables the government to spread out those costs.
Loans taken by individuals and governments are meant to improve the economy. Loans allow for growth in the overall money supply in an economy and open up competition by lending to new businesses. The interest and fees from loans are a primary source of revenue for many banks, as well as SMEs through the use of credit facilities and credit cards. Rather than borrowing from banks, the government typically borrows from the ‘market’.
An important reason government borrow is to act as an economic “shock absorber”. Borrowing allows government to spend more on public services and projects than they raise in taxes. They often borrow to bridge that gap. When a government borrows, funds are transferred from lender to the government, the lender exchanges his money for government securities. Other reasons why government borrow include recessions, investments, political reasons (higher spending without having to increase taxes).
The Debt Management Office has raised an alarm in Nigeria over excessive internal borrowings. The cost of servicing public debt (Domestic and External) may expand beyond the capacity of the economy to cope, thereby impacting negatively on the ability to repay. In Nigeria, higher borrowing has pushed up interest rates because markets are nervous about governments’ ability to repay and they demand higher bond yields in return for perceived risk. The potential problems of government borrowing include; higher debt interest payments, a need to raise taxes in the future, crowding out of the private sector and – in some cases – inflationary pressures.
There are a lot of benefits attached to government borrowing only if judiciously managed. The IMF Survey has hinted that government borrowing is rising risk to world financial system. Facts and figures from DMO indicating domestic and external borrowings by both Federal and State Governments shows that Nigeria is in a huge financial distress. Unfortunately, our leaders do not care whether the boat (Nigeria) is sinking or not; provided they are in power. Being in power here, translates to having your own share of the national cake.
Financial prudence basically means planning well in advance and investing in areas where you can expect high returns. It also means having complete knowledge about the money you have and how you can make it grow best. Actually, there is a battle for the soul of Nigeria. Will Nigeria continue to get worse leaving the citizens in perpetual agony and suffering or shall there be a redemption for Nigeria?
Financial prudence means careful management of available funds or capital in an effective and efficient way. What has kept Nigeria backwards all these years is the political principle of “chop make I chop”. The biblical Joseph in the book of Genesis was a man of prudence and discretion and we can recall what he did for a nation – the Egyptian Empire (Genesis 41:57).
Prudence is the essence of good financial management in our personal lives. Nobody gives what he does not have. If you are not prudent in your personal life; how would you be prudent with the public? It is on record how state governors squandered all that was kept in state savings and plunged their state in huge debt through their life of debauchery and heavy (expensive) drinking.
A Nigerian politician was called a stingy man by a prophet/man of God during the presidential campaign for the 2023 general elections. Again, it is on record that a particular politician in Nigeria announced to everybody that he will not give a dime to get anyone’s vote. Hence, – “We no dey give shishi”. Thrift, prudence, frugality, parsimony, saving, restraint, carefulness, canniness, economizing, meanness, miserliness, and stinginess are all saying the same thing. Nigeria needs prayers and Nigeria needs a Saviour. Huge debts, once incurred, increase total spending and so tend to produce higher prices and other inflationary effects.
From time immemorial, judges are known to take bribes and pervert justice. Today’s judges cannot be more honourable than the Old Testament judges. A government that is insincere, corrupt and unstable will always have his way by bribing the judges. A government that does not obey court orders is a threat to our nascent democracy and an unequalled intimidation on the judiciary. Patriots and well-meaning Nigerians are not sleeping.
They are working hard to enthrone a workable government and a sustainable economy. Nigerians are fighting tooth and nail to have an accountable, transparent government. It may not come quickly and easily but it must surely come. The moaning, mourning, groaning and the cry of ordinary Nigerians are not in vain. Nigeria is our country and we do not another country to call our own.
Some states do not have any reason to be in huge debt if not for recklessness and inefficiency in governance. It is on record that a governor ran a state for more than six months without any federal allocation and yet infrastructural developments went on in the state. It is on record that a state governor did not borrow for 8 years and still left 75 billion Naira in the state coffers while leaving office.
The APC- led government of President Muhammadu Buhari has made every Nigerian a debtor even the unborn. The debt profile of Nigeria is alarming. The World Bank has predicted that the incoming administration in Nigeria will face a difficult hurdle. It hinted that Nigeria will face a weak economic growth and policy challenges. If a capable hand does not take over the leadership, Nigerians may start wishing saint Buhari a comeback.
Toochukwu wrote from Trade Fair Complex, ASPAMDA