Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, took aim at critics of the economy under President Muhammadu Buhari, referring to them as “backyard economists.” 

The minister made the remarks during a keynote address he delivered at the Lagos Business School on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, according to Punch.

“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,” Fashola was quoted as saying, as he traced the nexus between government policies and the economy. 

Fashola returned as Works and Housing Minister on August 21, 2019. This picture was taken after his screening for the role by lawmakers (Presidency)
Fashola returned as Works and Housing Minister on August 21, 2019. This picture was taken after his screening for the role by lawmakers (Presidency)

“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,” he added.

Borrowing for infrastructure

The federal government continues to borrow to fund capital projects in the budget, its talking heads often say. 

Nigeria’s N8.91tn 2019 budget arrived with a debt servicing sum of N2.14tn. Nigeria’s debt stood at N24.387tn on December 31, 2018; doubling the N12tn it incurred when Buhari succeeded Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

The Buhari presidency says it needs all the money to revamp and rebuild critical infrastructure that will drive economic growth.