We’re robbing our children to pay for our greed – Atiku speaks on Nigeria’s debt profile

ATIKU Abubakar, former Vice President and one-time presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed concern over the rising debt of Nigeria.

“We are not just robbing Peter to pay Paul, but robbing our children to pay for our greed,” Abubakar said of a recent statement that the country’s debt to revenue ratio is now 99 percent.

In a series of tweets shared on Tuesday, the former Vice President cited figures presented in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, which show that while Nigeria spent a total sum of ₦943.12 billion in debt servicing in the first quarter of 2020, the Federal Government’s retained revenue for the same period was only ₦950.56 billion.

According to him such debt to revenue ratio shows that the country is in a crisis saying that the nation’s 2020 first quarter financial report Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy is shocking .

“Nothing has shocked me in my entire life in public service as the revelation from Nigeria’s First Quarter 2020 financial reports in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, which shows, alarmingly, that whereas Nigeria spent a total sum of ₦943.12 billion in debt servicing, the Federal Government’s retained revenue for the same period was only ₦950.56 billio,” he said.

“This means that Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio is now 99%.”

“No one should be deceived. This is a crisis! Debt servicing does not equate to debt repayment. The reality is that Nigeria is paying only the minimum payment to cover our interest charges. The principal remains untouched and is possibly growing,” he said further.

Atiku Abubakar also condemned the current cost of governance, describing it as unnecessary while urging the Federal Government to cut down the cost and channel the revenue to other vital areas of need in the country.

He advised against the maintenance of the presidential air fleet and ‘renovation of buildings – referring to the National Assembly Complex, just as he also condemned the limousine fleet for top government officials, overseas travels and treatments, and the ₦4.6 billion Presidential Villa maintenance budget, stating that all are wasteful projects.




    As a matter of utmost urgency and importance, I call on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to drastically reduce its expenditure, especially on wasteful projects.

    “We cannot be on the verge of economic ruin, while still maintaining a Presidential Air Fleet that has more planes than the Presidential fleets of those from whom we take these loans,” his tweet read in part.

    In the 2020 revised budget, President Muhammadu Buhari approved N27.7 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly Complex, a N9.3 billion deduction, representing a 25 percent reduction from its initial budgeted amount of N37 billion.

    Meanwhile in a Quartz Africa report, Marco Hernandez, World Bank’s lead economist for Nigeria said that Nigeria’s problem isn’t debt, but more about servicing debt.

     

    Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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