Despite the fact that Nigeria’s total debt stock is projected to hit N38 trillion by this year’s December, public officials appear to be more merciless than the previous ruling circles in ripping off the national till.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is alleging that public officials under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch have so far stolen over N15 trillion public funds.
This horrifying allegation is coming as Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Zainab Ahmed, in her presentation to the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts disclosed that the country’s total public debt will hit N38 trillion by December 2021.
Ahmed noted that the total public debt stock (external and local borrowings) of the federal and state governments and the Federal Capital Territory stood at N31.01trillion ($85.90billion) as of June 30, 2020, and is projected based on existing approval to rise to N32.51trillion by December 31, 2020. With planned borrowing of N6.17trillion in 2021, total public debt is expected to rise to N38.68trillion by December 31, 2021.
The N6.17 trillion planned borrowing mentioned by the minister, according to analysts, is higher than the expected budget deficit for 2021. Going by President Buhari’s 2021 budget presentation documents, his administration is planning to spend N13.08 trillion this year which will be financed by revenue of N7.88 trillion.
This implies a budget deficit of N5.20 trillion which will be financed mainly by borrowings of N4.28 trillion, privatisation proceeds of N205.15 billion and finally project linked bilateral and multilateral loans of N709.69 billion.
While debt to GDP ratio remains within the acceptable threshold, concerned citizens are increasingly worried about the Buhari administration ballooning deficits and unsustainable debt service costs.
While some citizens acknowledge the need to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy under current economic conditions, it is coming at the detriment of long term fiscal sustainability. In the recently released Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy (MTEF/FSP), debt service to revenue ratio rose to 99% in the first quarter of 2020.
With the economy already in a recession, Abuja’s revenues particularly non-oil revenues will remain depressed in the next few quarters.
It was expected that the Buhari administration should implement fiscal consolidation measures to manage its expenditure, and not the alleged looting spree of the administration officials.
Perhaps, implementing policies aimed at improving the business environment will help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the profitability of private sector enterprises, thus providing support for non-oil revenue.
Instead of pursuing that, PDP is claiming that the Buhari administration and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are resorting to diversionary attack on it, and churning out long epistles of lies and false performance claims.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement says such antics will not save APC and its allegedly indicted leaders from answering for atrocities which include the stealing of over N15 trillion public funds, manipulating the Buhari administration and importing terrorists and bandits for 2019 general elections who are now on rampage, killing innocent Nigerians, particularly in the northern parts of our nation.
‘’We know that APC’s attack is a desperate diversionary tactics as more revelations continue to emerge on how its leaders and some presidency officials pillaged our national treasury and stole over N15 trillion naira as well as how the APC has been patronising bandits with our national resources.
‘’This is especially giving the decision by our party to expose such APC leaders, in addition to the rising public demand on President Buhari to recover the money and prosecute the culprits’’, PDP says.
The opposition party is also noting that the plots by the current APC leadership to blackmail and ridicule President Buhari by pushing out fake performance claims, like those contained in a statement by ‘’its illegal caretaker committee on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, which was designed to rubbish Mr. President, highlight his failures and deflect attention from the atrocities of APC.
‘’Such fake narratives will not help APC as our party has details of their nefarious leaders, including APC governors, ministers, certain aides of Mr. President, as well as APC fronts in agencies of government, and would not hesitate to make such public at the fullness of time.
‘’APC had become rattled because of pressure from the PDP and other well-meaning Nigerians asking President Buhari to go after APC leaders as well as Presidency officials involved in the reported stealing of N9.6 trillion ($25 billion) oil revenue as detailed in the leaked NNPC memo.’’
Continuing, PDP says APC leaders are having sleepless nights because the dragnet will soon catch up with all of them involved in the reported stealing of N1.1 trillion worth of crude using 18 unregistered vessels; the looting of over N2.00 trillion in hazy oil subsidy regime, including a criminal under-recovery for unnamed West African countries as well as illegal tax per liter of petrol running into trillions of naira.
According to PDP, ‘’APC leaders are also jittery because they would soon explain how they siphoned N500 billion Social Investment Programme and the N16 billion meant for Mosquito Net Project, as exposed by First Lady Aisha Buhari in addition to the N90 billion stolen from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), in a racket in which certain top APC leaders were alleged to have received N3.00 billion each.
‘’Very top officials in the Buhari Presidency have gone under over their alleged involvement in the looting of N33 billion NEMA fund as exposed in the findings by the House of Representatives that the funds were never used for provision of emergency food for victims of insurgency in the Northeast among other items as claimed.
‘’Some known APC leaders are now running amok over their involvement in the siphoning of the N48 billion meant for the rebuilding of six northeast states ravaged by insurgency as well as the looting of N25 billion from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), among others.
‘’This is in addition to those fingered in the re-looting of repatriated funds, the alleged extortion of N1.2 billion from poor beneficiaries of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the fraud allegation in the EFCC leading to the suspension of its acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, as well as the looting of billions of naira Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
‘’Having stripped our national coffers, the APC is now using its illegal caretaker committee to attempt to set the narrative of empty treasury to validate their further looting of funds meant for the 2021 budget.
‘’By now, the APC ought to know that such narratives cannot fly when Nigerians are already aware that its leaders stashed away over N15 trillion stolen from our national coffers. We therefore invite the new mouthpiece of the thieving APC, Senator James Akpanudoedehe, to find something more meaningful to do with his time as Nigerians are no longer swayed by APC’s lies and propaganda.
‘’Under the PDP, people like Senator Akpanudoedehe progressed under the robust economy and a secured nation where the system worked. If Akpanudoedehe meant well, he should be apologising for the failures of his party and the devastation it has brought to our country.
‘’He should be apologising to victims of the bandits imported by his party. He should have been apologising for the looting by his party leaders as well as President Buhari’s failures, which have brought economic hardship and untold devastation to our nation.’’