Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, says it is hypocritical of the west and multilateral institutions to tell Nigeria not to use coal-fired power, which drove western industrialisation.
Speaking at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) discourse on infrastructure in Africa, Adeosun recalled that western powers recently blocked a coal to power project in Nigeria.
“The case, if you look at the numbers of business cases in Africa, is quite a huge one. Yes, we do need macroeconomic stability. We also do need consistency of policies by the multilateral institutions and western countries,” she said.
“Let me give you an example: In Nigeria, we have coal and it doesn’t take a genius to work out what it will take to get coal-fired power. Yet, we are being blocked. I think there is some hypocrisy in that.
“We have an entire western industrialization that was built on coal-fired energy and that is the competitive advantage that has been used to develop Britain, where I grew up.
“Now, Africa wants to do it, and they saying it’s not green, we can’t do and that we should go and do solar, wind, which are the most expensive power projects.”
Adeosun, who spoke at Jack Morton Auditorium, George Washington University, Washington, said there must be a level playing field in conversations around infrastructure.
“The west cannot say after polluting the atmosphere for 100 years, and when Africa wants to explore its resources, they say no.
“Yes, we would come up with bankable projects and we would behave ourselves, but I think we also need to be firm.
“If we want to stop coal, those who started it over 200 years ago, should first stop using coal before telling us to stop. This is because by doing so, you are only pushing us to the cycle of underdevelopment.”
IF LOOTED FUNDS ARE RETURNED IN TIME, WE’D RATHER NOT BORROW
Adeosun said Nigeria would rather not borrow at this time if looted funds sitting in America, UK and Switzerland are returned in good time.
“Looted funds are not sitting in Nigeria; they are sitting in Britain, Switzerland, in America. We are getting much more cooperation since President Buhari came in,” she said.
“They are significant sums. I think in Switzerland, we have $321 million, which has been there for 17 years with no interest. Yet, we are borrowing in billions, and that is just from one person that looted the treasury.
“So we are getting better cooperation. We would rather not borrow; we’d rather just have the stolen monies returned. But I must say that there has been much more cooperation with this administration.”
LENDERS NOW WILLING TO LEND US MONEY
Adeosun said lenders were starting to respond positively to Nigeria, debunking all speculations that lenders were not willing to give money to Nigeria due to poor credit ratings.
“The feedback we are getting from lenders has been positive, because this is what they’ve wanted Nigeria to do for many years.
“The problem with Nigeria in the past is that even when oil prices were very high, as high as $100 per barrel, we weren’t investing in our infrastructure.
“It really isn’t about the quantum you can borrow, how much you can borrow; it’s about how well you spend it. One of the things we’ve done is really sit down and work out the problems in our financial management, block the leakages.”