Did the President Buhari-led administration plunge Nigeria into a deeper debt profile to the tune of $80 billion?
In the Vanguard Newspaper issue of 24th October 2018, Mr. Peter Obi – former governor of Anambra State and running mate to the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar – was quoted as saying: “ (it is) quite unfortunate that Nigeria was owing $30 billion some time ago and our creditors cancelled the debts for the nation to move forward and now, this present regime has plunged us into a deeper debt profile to the tune of $80 billion, an indication that the nation is collapsing.”
We therefore present a fact check of the claim that the present regime plunged the nation into a deeper debt profile to the tune of $80billion.
According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), at the end of March 2015, 2 months before the present regime assumed office, Nigeria’s total public debt stock stood at N12.06 Trillion ($63.5 billion).
Note: The debt position is published every 3 months, hence our inability to use the position as at May 2015 when the new government took office.
By June 2015, a month into the President Buhari-led administration, Nigeria’s total public debt stock stood at N12.1 Trillion ($63.8 billion), an increase of about N56 billion ($0.3 billion).
However, by the end of June 2018, Nigeria’s Total Public Debt Stock stood at N22.38 Trillion ($73.2 billion).
As seen from the DMO’s data, Nigeria’s total public debt grew by $9.8 billion from $63.5 billion in March 2015 to $73.2 billion at the end of June 2018. Of this amount, $22 billion represents external debt by the FGN and the states.
Mr. Obi’s claim, without the context of the debt figure from which the current administration increased the debt profile, suggests that the current regime had borrowed to the tune of $80 billion. However, the latest publicly available national debt figure according to DMO is $73.2 billion – slightly lower than N80 billion, and showing that the debt profile grew by $9.8 billion during the current administration.
If Mr. Obi’s claim could be interpreted to mean that the national debt stood at $80 billion in total, the publicly available debt position of $73.2 billion makes this claim largely true.
However, the statement by Mr. Peter Obi appears to suggest that the current regime has borrowed to the tune of $80 billion. Based on the debt numbers published by DMO, the national debt increased by $9.8 billion during the current administration, making this a false claim.
Note: This report is restricted to publicly available national debt information.