The African Network for Environment and Economic Justice, a civil society group, has warned that Nigeria’s growing debt profile will push its people into multifaceted poverty.
This was announced by David Ugolor, the Executive Director of ANEEJ, during the two-day International Hybrid Conference on Special Drawing Rights in Abuja on Tuesday. The conference’s topic was “Making Special Drawing Rights Work for the People.”
The document titled “Debt Management, Restricting and Sustainability in ECOWAS” was published with the support of the Debt Management Office in Abuja.
The head of the CSO expressed concern about the fact that a significant portion of Nigeria’s income is allocated to debt repayment, noting that this issue also impacts several other West African nations.
Ugolor, speaking via Leo Atakpu, the Deputy Director of ANEEJ, said:
“Statistics from the DMO shows that Nigeria’s public debt stood at N87,379,401.75 trillion as of June 30, 2023, and in the same vein, Ghana’s public debt stock rose to 569.3 billion cedis ($49.7 billion) at the end of April 2023, according to figures obtained from the Bank of Ghana.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased solvency and liquidity issues, which is one of the main reasons Sierra Leone’s debt is categorised as having a high risk of debt distress.
“For us in civil society, this is quite disturbing because most of our countries’ revenues are now being channeled to debt servicing obligations at the peril of basic social services, climate, and other development exigencies.
“The debt crisis imperils the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and achievement of the Paris Climate Agreement in West Africa. This becomes even more worrisome when viewed against the backdrop that Nigeria remains the world poverty capital as designated by the World Poverty Clock report of 2023.
“It means debt will drive more Nigerians and indeed, West Africans into extreme and multidimensional poverty if urgent and drastic steps are not taken by our governments and the international community.
“In addition to reviewing the use of SDRs in Ghana and Nigeria, he stated the conference would “take a deep dive into current debates around SDR reallocation to countries in most need, such as Ghana and Nigeria, without having to exacerbate the debt crisis.”
cc: Vanguard Ng