The Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, on Friday condemned plans by President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow $29,960 billion for the country.
Mr. Sanusi, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said it would be difficult for the loan to be granted because Nigeria has five exchange rates.
He spoke at a policy dialogue forum organised by Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development in Abuja.
Mr. Buhari had in October forwarded a request to the National Assembly to approve external borrowing plan to fund projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.
It is the second time in three months that Mr. Sanusi is criticising Mr. Buhari’s economic policy.
In August, he had sternly criticised the president’s economic policy, saying his government may end up like that of the former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Sanusi argued that even if the National Assembly eventually grants the request, no global financial institution would give such loan.
“I can tell you for free, if the Senate today approves that we can borrow $30 billion, honestly, no one will lend us,” he said.
“It should be approved and I will like to see how you will go to the international market with an economy that has five exchange rates.
“There is one rate for petroleum marketers, there is interbank rate, there is another for money market operators such as western union, money gram, there is bureau de change rate and there is a special rate you get when you call the CBN for a transaction.
“So who will borrow you when they don’t know your exact reserve and exchange rate? I want to see who will borrow you money when the Niger Delta bombing of oil is there when the main source of the loan repayment is oil.”
Stating that Nigeria’s foreign exchange rates lacked credibility, Mr. Sanusi said the federal government should embrace private sector investments as a way out of its recession.
The monarch said oil revenue cannot bring the country out of its present economic downturn or made it rich.
He expressed disappointment that government could not increase capital expenditure even though the country’s population continued to grow to over 40 million people since 2015.
Mr. Sanusi also warned the government against continuous dependence on China. According to him, imports from China have destroyed Nigeria’s local industry.
He said, “We trust China too much. We need to be very careful. They are killing our textile and other industries and yet selling to us.”
The former CBN boss called on the federal government to reduce its debt service through greater loan concession.
He lamented that the nation had been borrowing money in the last 15 years to pay salaries.
According to him, there are clear possibilities that the situation would continue because the monies borrowed were not beig channeled into health, power or infrastructural development.
Mr. Sanusi called for the implementation of the June 2016 forex reform to unite the market through a single transparent rate rather than creating four new rates.
“The Senate should support tax incentives and other benefits to encourage the private sector,” he said.
A former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, who also spoke at the event, called for a drastic reduction in cost of governance.
According to him, only four states in the country are currently viable. He said even the four states are still burdened by huge debts such as overheads.
He asked the government to change its attitude to governance.