The Social Democratic Party presidential flagbearer, Donald Duke, has expressed concern over the growing indebtedness of the nation to China and other countries, stating that Nigeria is haemorrhaging under foreign loans.
Stating that the government needed to indigenise the economy, the former Cross River State governor noted that the Federal Government was taking foreign loans because the interest rates were low, adding that the nation could regulate bank rates in the country to make credit cheaper and affordable for entrepreneurs to grow the economy.
Addressing journalists at the SDP headquarters in Abuja on Monday, Duke pointed out that the about 30 per cent interest being charged on loans made it hard for businesses to grow and generate employment.
He said, “Indebtedness to any nation is worrisome, not just China. The concept of independence is being able to stand on your own; you are not independent if you are indebted to other nations. We need to strengthen our own local trade and when you trade, there should be a balance.
“You cannot always import without exporting; you cannot always breathe in without breathing out, that’s the law of nature; there must be harmony. If you keep on importing and you are not exporting to have a balance of trade, then your country will haemorrhage; we are haemorrhaging.”
The SDP presidential candidate insisted that the nation could produce nearly all the things that were being imported if power and bank credit were available.
He said, “All the things that we import, can’t we make them in Nigeria? Each time you import, you are sustaining a job overseas. Our government goes to countries like China to borrow because it is cheaper there.
“But you can also do the same thing here; you can regulate interest rates here and ensure that credit is affordable; we need to indigenise this economy built by Nigerians for Nigerians,” the lawyer stated.
Duke pledged that if elected in 2019, his government would address gas flaring, make credit affordable and available to Nigerians, and invest in the housing sector, which he said could generate millions of jobs.
“Already, if you take the housing sector, you have over 17 million housing shortage. If you decide to build one million houses every year, you will employ over 10 million to 15 million people; it will still take you 17 years to catch up. So, even though it is a problem, the sector still provides opportunities,” he argued.
The presidential hopeful said it was not right to tie the nation’s growth to oil prices, which he noted were fluctuating like every other commodity prices, stressing that it should rather be tied to real, measurable growth.
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