Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to obtain a $29.96 billion foreign loan, Sunday Tribune has learnt.
Obasanjo was said to have phoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, shortly after the media reported the loan bid, which the Federal Government explained would be used to finance critical infrastructure deficiency between now and 2018.
But the Finance Minister, it was learnt, told an alarmed Obasanjo that she would pay him a visit to explain the rationale for the plan, which has triggered mixed reactions on the necessity or otherwise of such loan.
The former president, Sunday Tribune gathered, spoke on the proposed foreign loan when he received members of a political association, The National Patriots’ Movement of Nigeria (NPMN), led by the national coordinator, Chief Dosu Oladipo, at his Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Friday.
Obasanjo, it was learnt, not only opposed the loan bid, but also threatened to draw a battle line with the Federal Government should it go ahead to obtain the loan which he said could have far-reaching negative effects on the nation.
While some experts have advised the government to deploy part of the funds reportedly recovered from allegedly corrupt politicians in the last political dispensation to such purpose, others claimed the loan could be raised internally.
Many others are concerned about the wisdom in such loan when the government was being weighed down by huge domestic debt to local contractors.
Obasanjo had successful negotiated with Western nations to write off $12.5 billion foreign debt to the Paris Club, a body of European creditors during his tenure.
In justifying the proposal for the N429.96 billion external loan, President Muhammadu Buhari, had in a letter to the National Assembly said, “The total cost of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (plan) is $29.96 billion made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274 billion, special national infrastructure projects, $10.686 billion, Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government budget support of $3.5 billion.”
But Nigeria’s foreign reserves have dipped lately, ostensibly owing to economic recession and intense pressure on Nigeria’s naira as a result of the scarcity of United States dollars.
OBJ speaks on third force
At the meeting, which lasted for about five hours, were more than 70 eminent politicians drawn from all the states in the South-West.
The purpose of the meeting, Sunday Tribune gathered, was to inform the former president of the aim of the group and seek his elderly advice.
The former leader used the occasion of the visit to bare his mind on the debate of the possible emergence of a third force, as the march towards 2019 general election progressed.
He was of the view that the precarious state of the PDP Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), coupled with the internal contradictions in the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) was a pointer to a ‘third force’ emerging in the nearest future.
He restated his position that while the PDP was already in the hands of undertakers preparatory to burial, the APC was at an intensive unit because its internal organs were seriously haemorraged.
He expressed delight at the calibre and integrity of the members of NPMN, which comprised former ministers, governors, members of the National Assembly, envoys, and other categories of professionals.
The three-time Nigerian leader said the initial report he got about the organisation was that it was being sponsored by a notable politician to prepare ground and serve as a launching pad for his (the Politician’s) presidential ambition.
Obasanjo urged NPMN leaders and members to neither be too slow nor too fast on the project they had embarked on but to sustain the tempo of their ongoing consultations and “footwork” before launching what he described as groundwork.
He promised that he would continue to identify only with groups with altruistic intentions for the overall unity and development of the country, just as he reaffirmed his status as a Yoruba man.
The national coordinator, Chief Oladipo, in his remark, said it was a political movement comprising people of integrity and who felt it was time for them to stand up to be counted at this period in the history of the country.