Back in 2005 Nigeria had a second wave of oil boom as oil prices rocketed our external reserves to over $60b. The unprecedented revenue generated huge debate as to what to do with the money. The came the Super Finance Minister Ngozi Okonko Iweala with a proposal many thought including I was the most audacious piece of economic decision ever to be taken by Nigeria. She had announced a deal with the Paris Club to pay down a sum of $12b whilst we get a write off of the balance of $18b.
The move was met with a mixture of backlash and support as both sides made a case as to why the deal should be accepted or rejected as the case may be. As usual the government began with their usual propaganda detailing why the nation must support a repayment of the debt. Others against the move wondered why the government would be dolling out such a huge sun of money which it could channel into immediate infrastructural development in the country.
This prompted Madam Ngozi to write an article in the dailies explaining the so called benefits of repaying the debts. At the time she had mentioned that foreign debt if repaid as agreed was costing Nigeria about $3b annually. As such, that amount if invested yearly will usher in an era of infrastructural development and economic growth. Six years down the line Nigeria still is nowhere bear attaining its self imposed infrastructural development. Power generation is till well below the 10,000mw estimate , roads, airports, hospitals, universities etc are still grossly inadequate and/or underfunded.
Today, madam is here again championing a course that has been firmly rejected by the Nigerian people. She has brandished semantics similar to that of the one she pitched during the debt repayment in 2005.
The era of subsidy is bound to come to an end someday. However in its place should be visible replacements that provide direct benefits to the masses. Replacements that should already be in place before a removal can be made. Government recurrent expenditure cut drastically to below 50% with a freeze on salaries of lawmakers, special assistants, ministers and the presidency. Without these I can’t ever trust you Ngozi.