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[Image: Olusegun-Obasanjo1.jpg]

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday in Lagos, expressed deep concern about Nigeria’s current debt profile and warned the Federal Government against “impending bankruptcy.”

Obasanjo was a keynote speaker at the “Why I am Alive” campaign celebration in Lagos.

Nigeria’s external debt, he said, grew by as much as 700 per cent to N24.947 trillion ($81.2.74 billion), from $10.32 billion in just four years (2015), meaning that the country would have to commit half of its foreign earnings to servicing its current level of indebtedness.

“Such a situation talks about impending bankruptcy,” the former president warned. He insisted that, “no entity can survive while devoting 50 per cent of its revenue to debt servicing.”

He explained that the current budget out of which Nigeria spends 25 per cent to service debt “is not the country’s total earning; a lot of it is also borrowing. Simply put, we are borrowing to service what we have borrowed and yet we are borrowing more.

“I do not need the brain of any genius to conclude that those who use statistics to dig us deeper into debt are our enemies. Statistics can be used to serve any purpose, and that is why Winston Churchill talked of lies, damn lies and statistics, meaning statistics can be made master of lies.”

Calling for national dialogue or debate on Nigeria’s short, medium and long-term plans as a nation, Obasanjo said his biggest worry was that, with the scale of debts the country was walking into, “there are already fiscal challenges to meet(ing) our obligations.”

Obasanjo, who was twice head of the Nigerian government in both military and civilian capacity between 1976 and 2007, was a special guest of the “Why I am Alive” campaign celebration tagged: “The Nigerian Story,” created by media personality and chief executive of Eureka Productions, Caroline Moore, in Lagos yesterday.

He has been very critical of governments since he left office after completing two terms of four years each as a civilian president from 1999 to 2007.

Pastor Itua Ighodalo, who moderated yesterday’s session, said the campaign was “designed to empower young Nigerians for the future by tapping into the key lessons from success stories of eminent personalities that have contributed to the social, economic and political growth of Nigeria.”

Of late, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) have also raised the alarm over the country’s rising debt profile, following Buhari’s request for Senate approval to borrow almost $30billion for development purposes.

Abubakar said the administration has taken more loans in the last three years than Nigeria did in the 30-year period preceding 2016.

guardian