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18.10.2004 General News

Nigerians Oppose $40m Loan to Ghana

By Guardian

MOST Nigerians in the country's six geo-political zones are opposed to the granting of $40 million and $5 million loans to Ghana and Sao Tome by the Nigerian Federal Government.

According to them, given the crushing local and foreign debt burden and the comatose economy, Nigeria is not best suited to financially assist neighbouring countries now.

A survey conducted by The Guardian in Sokoto, Kaduna, Borno, Gombe, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Plateau, Ondo and Kogi states, which accommodated 2,800 interviewees with 96 per cent return rate, asked the question: "Do you support the granting of $40 million and $5 million loan to Ghana and Sao Tome?"

'No', said 1,562 respondents or about 58.2 per cent of the poll, 18.2 per cent or 488 respondents answered in affirmative. Another 22.5 per cent or 604 respondents were undecided on the issue. The invalid responses were 31 or 1.1 per cent.

The zonal analysis indicated that the South-West geo-political zone led those who opposed the loan with 67.4 per cent. The zone was followed by the North-East with 61.3 per cent, South-South 60.3; South-East 58, North-Central 54.4 and North-West 44.2 per cent.

Abuja scored 60.5 per cent while Lagos garnered 63.1 per cent.

Respondents who supported the granting of the loan to the two countries comprised 29.5 per cent in the North-West, North-East 19.1, North-Central 17.4, South-South 16.6; South-East 13.1 and South-West 12.2 per cent. Abuja got 22.6 and Lagos recorded 16 per cent.

Adducing reasons for their stance, 945 respondents or 35.2 per cent held that it was sheer misplacement of priority by the Federal Government.

The argument is that Nigerian rulers prefer to use the resources of the country for grandiloquent international gestures, rather than for the development of the country.

Again, about 351 respondents or 13.1 per cent opposed the loan on account of the nation's lean economy.

On the opposing side, about 109 respondents, or 4.1 per cent, approved of the loan on the claim that it could project the country's image positively. 201 respondents or 7.5 per cent saw it in the spirit of brotherhood and good neighbourliness, while 116 respondents or 4.3 per cent deemed it as a form of investment fostering bi-lateral relations among the African countries.

President Olusegun Obasanjo recently sought the approval of the National Assembly for a loan of N6.3 billion to be extended by Nigeria to Ghana and the Island country of Sao Tome and Principe.

The President reiterated further that Ghana needed N5.6 billion or 89 per cent of the total sum to execute the West African Gas Pipeline Project while Sao Tome and Principe would use its share of N700 million or 11 per cent to meet emergency needs.

Analysts believe that the move is capable of sending wrong signals to the rest of the world. Nigeria is currently rated as poor and heavily indebted to many developed countries. And for quite sometime, the country's quantum of debt, put at over $32 billion, has constituted a setback to its economic recovery and meaningful development.

Another school of thought have it that although it is good for Nigeria to maintain a high level of good neighbourliness, it should by all means refuse to play "Father Christmas" to other countries either in Africa or elsewhere. "The Obasanjo government must not give the impression that it cares more about the plight of other countries and their people than for Nigeria and Nigerians," adherents of this school of thought argued.

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