Nigeria’s external debt to total revenue increased from 8 per cent in 2011 to 400 per cent in 2020, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido, has said.
Mr Sanusi lamented the situation last Thursday while participating in an online roundtable discussion tagged: “Debt Relief for a Green and Inclusive Recovery in Nigeria”, organised by Heinrich Böll Foundation.
The former CBN governor said Nigeria has a debt services ratio of up to 90-96 per cent but there are certain other elements of debts that analysts have not paid attention to.
He said: “If you go through the CBN statistical bulletin, in 2011, the total federally collected revenue from all sectors was 18.9 trillion Naira at 165 Naira to the dollar. This will have placed federally collected revenue in 2011 at $55.5 billion.
“Meanwhile, debt at that time was 5 billion so we had an external debt to external revenue of about 8 per cent in 2011. By 2020 we have an external debt of about $33.4 billion but all revenues in 2020 were about $8.3 billion. So it has moved from 8 per cent to 400 per cent between 2011 and 2020.
“And this is a serious red flag that I’ve not seen being pointed out in the conversation around debt sustainability especially given the facts that exports are yet to be diversified at the book of our revenues from oil sectors given what we’ve seen and what have been discussed today about the prospect of hydrocarbons as we move into a greener world.”
Nigeria’s debt position has been a source of concern for development experts in recent years, especially in the midst of dwindling oil revenue.
Mr Sanusi, who was recently deposed as Emir of Kano, noted that in measuring debt sustainability, the debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is a useless metric.
“You do not service debt out of GDP, you service debt out of revenues,” he said.