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Promoting Good Governance.

DATA: Did the APC govt borrow N11trn in three years? Hard to prove…

It is widely believed that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Federal Government borrowed N6 trillion in its 16 years of reign while the current All Progressives Party (APC) government has borrowed N11 trillion in just three years.

Tunde Bakare, General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, who was also the President’s running mate at the 2011 presidential election, recently made the claim while speaking during a church service.

“If you truly know the truth, you will weep; if you know how much we are owing as a nation, you will weep,” Bakare said. “For 16 years of PDP, they borrowed N6 trillion; three years of APC, they borrowed N11 trillion.”

This claimed was supported by Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District at the National Assembly when he spoke in reaction to the rejection of Peace Corps bill by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Without fear or favour, the Peoples Democratic Party, in 16 years, borrowed N6 trillion and this government in 3 years has borrowed N11 trilion but there is no specific programme that will empower the youth,” Melaye said.

When Bakare said PDP borrowed N6 trillion and APC Borrowed N11 trillion, it was not exactly clear whether he was referring to the national debt (inclusive of states) or whether he was specifically referring to the Federal Government’s debts. My hunch is he was referring to just the Federal Government.

A critical analysis of data from the Debt Management Office (DMO), the authorized body to collate and manage Nigeria’s national debt, reveals the Federal Government’s actual debt stock is contrary to the claims by Bakare and Melaye. The data is publicly available and can be downloaded from their website.

First claim: Did PDP borrow N6 trn in 16 years?

A project report submitted by Charles Uchenna Mbanwusi to the Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria, was very helpful. Mbanwusi report looks valid because his data at the end of 1999 and beyond was accurate and in alignment with data from other credible sources. According to his report, domestic debt as of June 1999 was N537.5 billion while external debt was N633.1 billion, all coming to N1.17 trillion.

The alternative is to use data as of December 1999, which puts external debt at $28 billion and domestic debt at N794 billion. But since we are examining the PDP’s reign, Mr. Mbanwusi’s data will only be referenced.

Conclusion: If we should assume that the national debt is for FG only, then it means that between June 1999 and June 2015, the PDP added N9.25 trillion to the debt — way higher than Bakare’s claim.

We must note, however, that the Olusegun Obasanjo government paid back some of the loans. Otherwise, it would have been much higher. The Obasanjo government paid off $18 billion Paris club debt, representing 60% of the accumulated debt of about $30 billion. So the claim by Pastor Bakare and Senator Melaye that PDP only borrowed N6 trillion in 16 years is debatable.

Second claim: Has APC borrowed N11 Trillion in 3 years?

To start with, we only have data as of September 2017, which should ordinarily be up to date — unless Pastor Bakare has access to data that is not publicly available.

Interesting to know that the DMO data post-2012 shows the breakdown of the state government component of debt. So we can easily establish the Federal Government component from the total debt. From the data, the current government’s raised domestic debt from N8.39 trillion in June 2015 to N12.49 trillion in September 2017, and external debt from N2 trillion in June 2015 to N4.69 trillion in September 2017.

The Federal Government’s contribution of the external debt averaged approximately 53% between 2011 and 2015, and averaged approximately 70% between 2015 and 2017.

Conclusion: When you calculate the difference, what is left is a total Federal Government debt of N6.76 trillion added to the debt since June 2015.

If we should consider the total national debt (which is inclusive of states), then we merely need to deduct N12.1 trillion in June 2015 from N20.37 trillion in Sept 2017, which gives a difference of N8.3 trillion — still significantly lower than the N11 trillion being touted.

So, unless Pastor Bakare and Sentor Melaye have access to data up to February 2018, which would validate their claims, there is no proof that their claims are accurate.

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