$81bn External Debt: Nigeria Inching Towards Bankruptcy, Obasanjo Tells Buhari Govt

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With an external debt of $81.274 billion as curtains fall on 2019, Nigeria is inching towards “bankruptcy”, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Friday.

Sending strong warning to the federal government on the Nigeria’s rising debt profile, Obasanjo said the nation’s debt grew by as much as 700 percent to N24.947 trillion ($81.274 billion), from $10.32 billion in just four years (2015).

He noted that the implication of the piling debts is that the country would have to commit half of its foreign earnings to servicing its current level of indebtedness.

Obasanjo was a keynote speaker at the “Why I am Alive” campaign celebration in Lagos, tagged “The Nigerian Story” created by media personality and chief executive of Eureka Productions, Caroline Moore.

The former President was at the helms between 1999 and 2007 following Nigeria’s return to civil rule. Prior to his second coming he had served as military head of state between 1976 and 1979.

Obasanjo who got many accolades for overseeing the debt pardon/repayment of external debt owed the Paris Club cartel up to the tune of $30 billion during his tenure in office said “Such a situation (the rising debt profile) talks about impending bankruptcy.”

He averred 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.”

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