The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has flayed economists opposed to the federal government’s huge borrowings.
Fashola who spoke at a meeting at the Lagos Business School, said the borrowings are being used to finance major infrastructural projects in the country.
Describing the critics as ‘backyard economics’ who cannot run a small business, the former Lagos state governor said even the debt profile of the United States exceeds $21 trillion.
He said, “Today, the government is constructing roads in every state of Nigeria and while revenues are a challenge to prompt completion, some experts who have not successfully shown they can run a small business moan the loudest about Nigeria’s borrowing to fund infrastructure investment.
“A Nigerian has borrowed billions of dollars to build a refinery, petrochemical plant, fertiliser plant and gas processing plant, yet some backyard economists complain that a country whose population is in the hundreds of millions is borrowing too much to fix rail, roads, ports (air and sea) and power.
“They come to the public space to talk about the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and infrastructure of the United States and OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. But they are ominously silent on America’s public debt that exceeds $21 trillion.”
Fashola said the current administration has responded to yearnings of Nigerians for better infrastructures more than any administration since 1999.
“What we now hear is the inconvenience, instead of the acknowledgement that government is now responding and providing the service we all craved for almost two decades. Please be aware that all those roads under construction are now construction sites and, in the world that we now live in, safety on construction sites is now a big issue.
“Not only for motorists who have to drive through them but also for our brothers and sisters who are working there to deliver the infrastructure we desperately crave. A camera sees only what the man behind the lens wants it to see. So, instead of inconvenience, I see service, with the hope that things will get better,” he said.