The Oasis Reporters
May 23, 2020
It is a known fact that Nigeria has a huge deficit in roads, power, health, agricultural, educational infrastructure.
Another known fact is that the military interregnum between 1984 to 1999 threw Nigeria into a huge debt burden. This was before the democratically elected government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007 paid off most of the debts to grant the nation a huge sigh of relief.
Now it is said that Africa’s most populous nation has descended into unprecedented debts so massive that it would take generations of great grandchildren to pay them off. Worse still, there is little or nothing to show for the massive debts in terms of critical infrastructure.
Access Bank Zambia’s former Managing Director, Nigerian born international banker and venture capital expert, Dr. Jekwu Ozoemene says he does not “understand why Nigeria cannot focus on mobilizing private equity to fund critical infrastructure such as airports, hospitals, roads, bridges, Independent Power Plants, schools etc. Meanwhile, much smaller African countries are already doing this.
Is this a problem of legislation, political will, competence, or is it that we think that oil money is forever available?
I honestly seek to understand”.
Well, Dr. Ozoemene should know.
Rather than sink further into foreign debts with declining crude oil revenue, can’t the country explore new avenues of raising equity ?
In the business life of Nigerians, one aspect that gives cause for cheer is in the business acumen of Nigerians. They mostly excel in whatever they set their mind to do. Hence the largest percentage of the highest group of educated blacks or African Americans in the US are said to be Nigerians.
Withdraw Nigerians from the medical department of Georgia, and it’s medical infrastructure would immediately collapse.
Former military president of Nigeria, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida opened the floodgates of banking to the Nigerian private sector and see the successes recorded.
New generation Nigerian banks that sprung up, like Zenith Bank founded by Jim Ovia has become the first Nigerian bank to cross 200 billion naira in profit after tax, under the dexterity of GMD/Chief Executive, Ebenezer Onyeagwu. Others like Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank etc have long since formed the league with Zenith bank of Nigerian banks with branches in many African countries, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Little wonder, South African politician, Julius Malema spoke in awe, when he said, “Nigerian Banks are owned by black Nigerians”.
Huge compliment there.
It was once said that the Ghanaian government once sought for funds for certain projects, and just one branch of a Nigerian Bank in Ghana, advanced the money.
So why can’t Nigeria look inwards and get critical funding for infrastructure from Nigerian banks rather than seeking for loans from abroad ?
With declining oil wealth, increasing debt burden, the government needs to look inwards to fix the deficits in infrastructure with our homegrown talents and finance.