Obasanjo decries Nigeria’s rising debts, low FDI

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed worry over the way states and the Federal Government are accumulating debts as well as over the low foreign direct investment into the country.

Obasanjo spoke on Thursday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, when he hosted some members of the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, led by its Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.

At the meeting, Obasanjo was said to have expressed worry about the way the country had been busy accruing debts by borrowing money all over the world.

While in office, the former president visited the country’s creditors and was able to get debt forgiveness for the country.

However, since assuming office six years ago, the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had been accumulating debts for the country.

Investigations by The PUNCH in May indicated that the country’s debt rose by N20.8tn between July 2015 and December 2020, according to data obtained from the Debt Management Office. The period falls under Buhari’s regime, which began on May 29, 2015.

Statistics obtained from the DMO showed that Nigeria’s total debt as of June 30, 2015 stood at N12.12tn.

However, as of December 31, 2020, the country’s debt portfolio had risen to N32.92tn.

This shows that within a period of 66 months (five and half years), the country’s debt has risen by N20.8tn. It also means that within the period, the country’s debt portfolio rose by 171.62 per cent.

Most of the country’s debt was incurred by the Federal Government. Of the total debt of N32.92tn, the Federal Government has a total of N26.91tn, leaving a balance of N6.01tn to sub-national governments, mainly, the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

The implication of this is that 83.78 per cent of the nation’s debt stock belongs to the Federal Government, with the sub-national government accounting for 16.22 per cent.

Further analysis shows that domestic sources accounted for N20.21tn while external sources accounted for N12.71tn.

Sources at the meeting the former president had with the PDP leaders said Obasanjo was disheartened over the unbridled way the current leaders of both the country and states were borrowing to either finance budgets or even pay salaries.

One of the sources said the former president informed his guests that while he was in office, governors always informed him about how much they had been able to attract as FDI into their states.

The source said, “The former president told us that every nation must source funds within to finance projects and be able to attract FDI to it.

“For example, he said then, he was always happy when governors would call to tell him that they had about $100m from FDI. He would be happy. But now, all the money he also left behind in foreign accounts have been taken.

“He said all he hears about now is debts and loans. He insisted that the country must produce leaders that would know how to turn the economy around and also attract foreign investors. The former president is very passionate about the country and that is very amazing.”

Naira now useless, says ex-minister

Meanwhile, a former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Prof Jerry Gana, has said the naira is fast becoming the “most useless currency” in Africa today.
Gana, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, spoke in Abuja on Saturday at the party’s Critical Stakeholders’ Retreat organised by the Kogi PDP Renaissance Group.

Delivering a keynote address on the theme, ‘Kogi PDP: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,’ the former minister listed things the party must do to return to power.

He said the party required a good strategy; organisation; grassroots presence; free, fair, credible primaries; justice, equity and fairness; resources; and logistics in order to dislodge the All Progressives Congress in 2023.

Gana lamented that the degree of current economic distress, which he said was the worst in recent times, had made Nigerians the most miserable people on earth.

He said, “The Misery Index in Nigeria is the worst in Africa. The level of indebtedness in the past few years is such that every Nigerian is now in debt. The naira is, perhaps, one of the most useless currencies in Africa today. I have never seen this level of corruption as we have today.

“In fact, the level of corruption makes the PDP governments look like angels because corruption is now a thousand times worse.”

Going down memory lane, the former minister painted a portrait of the importance of Kogi State in the pre- and post-colonial political development of Nigeria.

Gana decried the insecurity in the country, saying, “Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State was advocating recently that everyone in Katsina State should get a gun. Do you know where Katsina is? Do you know who comes from Katsina?”

He appealed to Katsina PDP to rise to the occasion to deliver Nigeria, urging it to reject those he described as agents of division and unite for the good of the party.

Gana said, “You have the best chance to take over power in Kogi. Kogi is very central because every part of Nigeria passes through Kogi. Whoever is ruling Kogi cannot lie because if you are doing something, people will see it and know.

“If you are not doing anything, the people will know. We have the people and the resources, so Kogi has no excuse not to excel.”

A former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who also spoke at the event, reiterated the need for leaders and members of the PDP to unite in order to return to power and give Nigeria a new sense of direction.

He described the retreat as a pointer to the preparedness of the PDP to put its house in order not only in Kogi, but throughout Nigeria.

Saraki said, “Kogi has witnessed change in fortune since 2015 but I am happy because today’s meeting sends a strong message to the PDP family throughout the country.

“We must not forget that our party, the PDP is the landlord in Kogi that was robbed of victory in the past elections. So, we must set aside our differences in the interest of the party.”

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