•Coronavirus may incapacitate Nigeria from servicing debt, says DMO
By Henry Umoru
THE Senate yesterday raised alarm that with its approval of $22.7billion foreign loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari penultimate week, the total debt profile of Nigeria now stands at N33 trillion.
Speaking at the one day public lecture organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies ( NILDS), on Public Debt in Nigeria : Trend, Sustainability and Management in Abuja yesterday, the Deputy Chairman of Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Muhammad Enagi Bima Enagi, All Progressives Congress, APC, Niger South, said borrowing had always served as veritable financial platforms for many countries of the world in running their economies.
According to him, judicious utilization of such loans for intended projects and servicing the debts appropriately have also been problems for some countries, particularly the developing ones as Nigeria.
This is even as the Director -General, Debt Management Office, DMO, Mrs Patience Oniha, expressed fears that economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic might incapacitate and frustrate Nigeria from servicing its debts appropriately.
Speaking further, Senator Bima noted that realities on ground in the country, in terms of required infrastructure and debt accumulations between 2006 and now, were not in anyway connected.
He, however, explained that many Nigerians were worried whenever they heard that their government was seeking one loan or the other.
He said: “From a low ratio of debt to gross domestic product (GDP) of about 3.4 percent at independence, Nigeria’s total public debt as at September 30, 2019, according to the Debt Management Office, DMO, stands at about N26.2 trillion (or $85.4 Billion).
“Of this amount, total domestic debts is about N18 trillion (or $58.4 Billion), which is 68.45percent of the total public debts. With the recent approval of the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan, the total debt stock would be about N33 trillion and 21% Debt/GDP ratio.