The Director-General, Debt Management Office, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo has disclosed that Nigeria’s external debt profile has risen to $11 billion as at last week as against the $ 9.4 billion recorded in March. Similarly, domestic debt profile was said to have risen to N11 trillion.
Nwankwo disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Kaduna on Friday shortly after declaring open a one-day enlightenment workshop with leaders of students’ unions from tertiary institutions.
Nwankwo, however, said the quantum of the debt did not really matter. He said the most important thing was how the resources were deployed to encourage economic growth, development, generate employment and reduce poverty.
According to him, the concern about debt is “whether you are in a position to pay back what you borrowed as at when due,” stressing that in the case of Nigeria, the debts remain sustainable.
He noted that the current global economic problems, particularly the collapse of oil prices, were having a significant impact on economies all over the world.
Nwankwo said, “because the Nigerian economy is very resilient and because the government is in control, Nigeria’s debts continue to remain sustainable.
“Presently Nigeria owes, domestically, about N11 trillion and externally, about $11 billion.The figures are the total of all debts in the federation. It includes external debts of the federal and all the state governments as well as the domestic debts of the federal government and all the state governments.
“Let me emphasise that what matters is not just the quantum, what is important is how these resources are deployed to encourage growth, development, generate employment and reduce poverty.
“It matters whether you are in a position to pay back what you borrowed as at when due and in the case of Nigeria, I want to assure you that Nigeria’s debt remains sustainable.
“Based on current global economic problems, particularly the collapse of oil prices, this is having significant impact on economies all over the world. Because the Nigerian economy is very resilient and because the government is in control, Nigeria’s debts continue to remained sustainable.”
Nwankwo commended the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for maintaining a healthy reserve and for stabilising the exchange rate in spite of the shock occasioned by the drastic drop in oil revenue.
He said Nigerians should be proud that they have a government, a CBN and an economic system that is sound, in spite of the shock we have.
He noted that other countries like Venezuela and Russia that had been in similar position had had their currencies devalued very rapidly in the first 30 days of the oil shock.
“But you can observe that it was until about three or four months later that the CBN had to do some little adjustments with the exchange rate.
“Nigerians should be proud that the economy is so resilient, that we have enough food for our population and that food prices, in spite of what has happened in the past seven months or more continues to be moderate.
“That shows that over the years, we have attempted to improve, to diversify the economy, to strengthen our agriculture and that is a source of inspiration for all of us,” he said.
He urged Nigerians to use “the opportunity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s change to do better than we did in the past by working hard in making sure that agriculture continues to expand and modernise so that we can have real food security.”