By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has explained his administration resorted to taking loans to bridge the infrastructure gap.
Buhari gave the explanation on Tuesday during a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC).
He said Nigeria must fix its roads to save lives from soaring road accidents.
According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President said the strategic reason for the borrowings was to provide the infrastructure that would make the country attractive to investors.
“We have so many challenges with infrastructure. We just have to take loans to do roads, rail and power, so that investors will find us attractive and come here to put their money,’’ the President said after listening to a presentation by PEAC chaired by Professor Ayo Salami.
He regretted the failure to provide infrastructure for effective transportation deprived the country of its well-deserved status as the West African hub for Air cargo transportation and trans-shipment of goods.
On the issue of the economy, Buhari noted the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
“We have to accept that decision; otherwise they (Middle-East producers) can flood the market and make the product unviable. So we have cooperated with what we get. With oil, we are in a difficult situation. The politics of oil is that the less you produce, the less you earn,” he said.
Buhari also stressed the position of agriculture in the government’s scheme to reduce joblessness and poverty.
“For us to bounce back to productivity, especially in agriculture, the unemployed with many of them uneducated had to be persuaded to go into agriculture.
‘‘If we hadn’t gone back to the lands we would have been in trouble by now. That is why we virtually stopped the importation of food thereby saving jobs and foreign exchange.”
The President also broached the issue of COVID-19 pandemic and how it necessitated the recent government policies as they relate to energy (electricity) and fuel.
He said the Federal government took such decisions because it places the country above politics.
“COVID has reduced us to the same level as developed countries.
‘‘We are lucky we went back to the land. We eat what we produce. We are doing our best to secure the country and provide infrastructure for investment to be viable in the country,” he said.
Commending Chairman and the members of the council for their patriotism and service to the nation, Buhari pledged to continue to draw from their wisdom, knowledge and experiences as the nation deals with challenging economic times.
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