The out-going President, Muhammadu Buhari has given a brief account of his tenure in office, saying that he’s not ashamed of plunging Nigeria into N77 trillion debt.

Recall that the Debt Management Office (DMO) had projected that the government’s persistent borrowings would see President Muhammadu Buhari leave a humongous debt of N77 trillion behind for the incoming administration.

Patience Oniha, who heads the agency, said at a public presentation on January 4, 2023 on the 2023 budget at the National Assembly that new borrowings of ₦10.57 trillion was captured in the 2023 budget.

Available data showed that 73 percent of internal debt, which is about 60 percent of the total debt stock, is government bond, saving bonds, treasury bills, Sukuk and Green bonds.

Of internal debts, 2.3 percent is government’s promissory notes to companies issued export expansion grant.

With the rising deficit in the budget, industry analysts posit that whoever takes over from President Buhari has tough choices to make on the economy, with the 2023 budget designed as a deficit document to be funded by borrowing.

The Budget Office of the Federation’s recent data analysis indicated that total budget deficit is set to hit N47.43 trillion under President Buhari.

The analysis covers the actual budget deficits and projections for the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 fiscal years.

According to the figures, deficit financing has risen by 370.54 per cent from N2.41 trillion in 2016 to N11.34 trillion in 2023.

In the third and fourth quarters of 2015, total deficit financing amounted to N841.48 billion. It rose to N2.41 trillion in 2016, N3.81 trillion in 2017, N3.65 trillion in 2018, N4.18 trillion in 2019, N6.59 trillion in 2020, and N6.44 trillion in 2021.

While the total deficit for 2022 has not been released, the Budget Office expects the figure to hit N8.17 trillion (of which N6.37 trillion had been spent by November 30, 2022). The office also anticipates a high deficit financing of N8.17 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year.

Between the third and fourth quarters of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020; the first three quarters of 2021, and the first four months of 2022, the Federal government spent N23.66 trillion on personnel costs, pensions, overhead costs, presidential amnesty programme, other service-wide votes, and special interventions.

However, in a statement issued on Saturday, May 27, 2023, Buhari asked Nigerians to take the country’s assets and investments into account when considering the debt profile.

The president said his administration doubled Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure to gross domestic product (GDP) from about 20 percent to over 40 percent.

In the statement posted on Twitter, the president said the growth is “no small undertaking”.

He said this occurred amid a plunge in global oil prices, a recession in the country, and a war in Europe.

“So, as we look at Nigeria’s debt profile, I urge us to also look at the assets and investment profiles, some of which was paid for by debt and some by investment income,” he said.

“The wealth and prosperity of many nations, especially post-war Europe, was built largely on infrastructure and on debt redeemed over decades. Some of the projects are commercially self-liquidating.”

Buhari added that without investing in infrastructure, the road out of poverty is a much tougher one.


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