President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday in Lagos expressed deep concern about Nigeria’s current debt profile and warned the Federal Government against “impending bankruptcy.”
Obasanjo was a keynote speaker at the “Why I am Alive” campaign celebration in Lagos on Friday.
Nigeria’s external debt, he said, grew by as much as 700 percent to N24.947 trillion ($81.2.74 billion), from $10.32 billion in just four years (2015), meaning that the country would have to commit half of its foreign earnings to servicing its current level of indebtedness.
“Such a situation talks about impending bankruptcy,” the former president warned. He insisted that “no entity can survive while devoting 50 percent of its revenue to debt servicing.”
He explained that the current budget out of which Nigeria spends 25 percent to service debt “is not the country’s total earning; a lot of it is also borrowing. Simply put, we are borrowing to service what we have borrowed and yet we are borrowing more.
“I do not need the brain of any genius to conclude that those who use statistics to dig us deeper into debt are our enemies: statistics can be used to serve any purpose, and that is why Winston Churchill talked of lies, damn lies and statistics, meaning statistics can be made master of lies.”
Calling for national dialogue or debate on Nigeria’s short, medium and long-term plans as a nation, Obasanjo said his biggest worry was that, with the scale of debts the country was walking into, “there are already fiscal challenges to meet(ing) our obligations.”
Obasanjo, who was twice head of the Nigerian government in both military and civilian capacity between 1976 and 2007, was a special guest of the “Why I am Alive” campaign celebration tagged “The Nigerian Story” created by media personality and chief executive of Eureka Productions, Caroline Moore in Lagos on Friday.
He has been very critical of governments since he left office after completing two terms of four years each as a civilian president in 2007.
Pastor Itua Ighodalo, who moderated the Friday session, said the campaign was “designed to empower young Nigerians for the future by tapping into the key lessons from success stories of eminent personalities that have contributed to the social, economic and political growth of Nigeria.”