*tasks Buhari administration on more transparency
By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari administration to show responsibility by improving on accountability and transparency level in the face of increasing Nigeria’s debt profile.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu the umbrella body of all registered political parties and associations in Nigeria noted that “the continued resort to external borrowing at the slightest challenge is not healthy for the country’s future.”
The CNPP therefore urged the Buhari administration to look inwards, reduce cost of governance, and explore other options, including harnessing non-oil revenues instead of increasing the county’s debt burdens.
“Recall that Nigeria’s total internal and external debt stock stood at N12.06 trillion or $63.5 billion as at the end of March this 2015, up from N11.2 trillion or $67.726 billion in December 2014 according to figure released by the Debt Management Office (DMO) in June 2015.
“But as at September 30, 2019, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s total public debt jumped to about N26.2 trillion (or $85.4 billion).
“Recall, however, the Senate had earlier this year also raised an alarm that Nigeria’s total debt profile would stand at N33 trillion, if President Muhammadu Buhari got approval for the $22.7 billion foreign loan request. Unfortunately, the Senate later approved the loan.
“As if that was not bad enough, in the month of March this year, the same Nigerian lawmakers approved President Buhari’s $2.36 billion loan request.
“Meanwhile, in April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved $3.4 billion in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument to Nigeria.
“We are shocked that the same administration that have been getting trenches of Abacha loots returned to it still decided to seek a fresh $5.513 billion (N2.1 trillion) loan, after an earlier loan of $22.79 billion (N8.5trillion) this same year.
“More worrisome is that the minister of finance, budget and national planning, had in December 2019 revealed that debt servicing would gulp 29% of the total revenue accruable to Nigeria in 2020.
“According to the Minister, Zainab Ahmed’s disclosure last December, the Federal Government is currently spending almost a third of its projected revenue to service Nigeria’s debt. The government is now spending N2.452trn or 29 percent out of its N8.42trn set as revenue target in 2020 to service debts.
“While there is no country that is not borrowing, when a country continues to borrow in the face of rapidly dwindling oil revenue, which is the only major source of income to the country, the future of Nigerians yet unborn will eventually be squandered by our generation.
“It is about time Nigeria stopped paying lip service to developing non-oil sectors of the economy in effort to improve revenue earning.
“How can anyone explain the fact that in many parts of the country, foreigners are harvesting Nigeria’s solid minerals free of charge while the federal government has continued to borrow to fund the 2020 budget?
“We urge President Buhari administration to immediately cut the cost of governance, empower farmers by providing security and incentives that would encourage young people to go back to farming, and block loss of other non-oil revenue”, the CNPP said.