Nigeria risks losing foreign assets to reckless borrowing, CSOs warn

• Blame N’Assembly for rising debt woes
• Plan orientation for 10th Assembly

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have raised concern over Nigeria’s rising debt profile, describing it as a “trap” worsening the country’s crisis-ridden economy and costing the nation foreign assets.

The CSOs, consisting Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Christian Aid, in partnership with Transparency International (TI), noted that Nigeria is currently in a debt crisis, with a fiscal deficit well above the statutory threshold of three per cent, an increasingly unsustainable debt profile, and a rising debt servicing that has been worsened by growing interest rates, among others.

Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, lamented that the National Assembly has failed in its constitutional duty of checkmating the excesses of the executive arm of government and is, therefore, largely to blame for the current debt crisis.

He said due to the “rubber stamp” attitude of legislators who sign or approve loans that the executive has been taking in the last few years without fully grasping its implication to the economy and generations yet to come, Nigeria is now in a debt trap, as government keeps taking loans from private creditors, hence, deepening the debt crisis and increasing human cost.

Rafsanjani said: “Barely two decades after the buyback deal by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo from the Paris Club debt relief agreement, Nigeria is already in another debt crisis with an inevitable human cost.

“With limited access to further financing on concessional terms and with a growing presence and influence of private creditors in its debt profile, Nigeria’s national debt is growing and increasingly putting the country in a precarious position.”

He said: “Part of the crisis we have is that when the new or incoming legislators come, they hardly get any orientation and that is what CISLAC and Christian Aid will be working on. We will organise orientation on our debt situation, our economic situation, to all the relevant committees.”

Senior Programme Coordinator, Christian Aid, Uzor Uzoma, explained further that most of government’s borrowings are done without recourse to the law. And sadly, the lawmakers do not read through properly to ensure that Constitutional provisions, with regards to borrowings, are adhered to.

She advised Nigerians to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and elect worthy leaders in the coming general elections.

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