Backyard economists, Fashola hits critics of FG’s borrowings


Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has described some
of the critics of the Federal Government’s borrowings as “backward
In July, the Debt Management Office (DMO) released figures which
showed that Nigeria’s debt increased by N560 billion in the first
quarter of 2019.
According to the DMO, the total debt stock as of March 31, 2019, stood
at N24.9 trillion compared to the N24.3 trillion as of December 31,
The breakdown showed that the total external debt stood at N7.8
trillion ($25.6 billion) while domestic debt was N17 trillion ($55.6
But speaking during a meeting at the Lagos Business School (LBS),
Fashola said some economists who could not run small businesses
successfully had been harsh on the government for borrowing to finance
infrastructure projects in the country.
“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,”
he said.
“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
He said a lot of Nigerians go on holidays to places like the US for
medical treatment, seek for their citizenship, fly their airplanes and
use their airports but unknowingly pay in part for the debt these
countries have incurred for building the infrastructure they enjoy.
He challenged business students at the LBS to seize the public space
from “those half-baked economists and enlighten the public about the
necessity to invest before you can claim a dividend.”
He said federal roads such as the Lagos-Ibadan expressway,
Apapa-Oworonshoki expressway, Ikorodu-Sagamu and Lagos-Badagry were
built about four decades ago and have outlived their design lives.
“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,” he said.
“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.”

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