By Uche Mbah
While President Buhari and his handlers are dissipating energy on chronic and perpetual blame game on the Economy, it appears the only economic policy that is being vigorously pursued by the All progressives Congress government is borrowing. While pursuing the policy with Catholic zeal, it becomes worrisome when more premium is placed on Propaganda than the economy-in fact, the other economic focus of this administration is the pursuit of oil prospecting in the chad basin-there is no member of his kitchen cabinet that is dedicated as an economic adviser. Even if there is, -as former president Olusegun Obasanjo once put it-they will only advice, and government will do what they like. There are advisers and special advisers on social media, new media, and so many splinter units, including staff of Buhari Media Organization. But no Economic team, apart from the feeble efforts from the Vice presidential office. (The Vice President is a Lawyer.)
This Week, the debt Management office dropped a bombshell: Nigeria is indebted to the world at large to the tune of $81.274 billion, or N25 trillion as at 31st March 2019-nearly three times the 2019 budget of N8.8 trillion. And they are not unrelenting in their quest to increase the straw on the Camel’s back.
The breakdown is as follows: China, $2.554 billion; France, $366.07 million; Japan, $74.63 million; India, $26.46 million and Germany, $171.79 million. The Asian tigers thus gave out the Lion’s Share.
The problem is, Buhari will no longer be in power when the Lion comes for his share. And China, particularly, is known to be a vengeful creditor. And they gave out more than 80% of the loans.
Recently, China took over the Airport belonging to one African Country for not being faithful to their loan repayment. And they have started sounding notes of warning, telling the government to as a matter of urgency open a sinking fund and an escrow account to be able to repay as at when due. But they are a tricky customer who took advantage of the economic ignorance of Nigeria to drive a lopsided and hard bargain. When Buhari went for the loan, he took no economic expert, but surrounded himself with politicians who are more interested in their estacode and perks of the trip than crack their brain about trade imbalance. China presented their economic experts. Now, all they want to do is sit down, cross their legs with a tooth pick waiting for Nigeria to default. And it is not rocket science to know Nigeria will default. They are aware of the bazaar going on with the loans, both at home and abroad.
The domestic debt is no less intimidating. According to the Debt management office, it stood at $55,664.46 billion, which represents about 66% of the total debt overhang, leaving the foreign debt at 44%. $12,942.77 billion (over N3.972 trillion) was owed by the Federal Capital Territory, where the seat of power is-a whooping 15%.
There was a N12 trillion spike in the Nigerian debt profile since 2015. Most of the monies were borrowed to build rails which were all but completed under the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, sometimes at several times the cost then.
President Olusegun Obasanjo, Through Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, had exited debts from Paris club in 2005. Now, this government is pilling up more debts for future generations. Critics say they have itchy fingers. But that does not answer the question: How the hell will future generations pay?