Latest figures from the Debt Management Office (DMO) show that Nigeria’s total public debt increased by 20.2 percent to N39.56 trillion ($95.77 billion) as at December 31, 2021, up from N32.92 trillion ($86.392 billion) in 2020
Ms. Patience Oniha, DMO director-general, disclosed this at an interactive session with journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
The amount, she said, represented the total External and Domestic Debts of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), the 36 State Governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to Oniha, the figure also included the N5.489 trillion new borrowings by the federal government as contained in the 2021 Appropriation and Supplementary Acts to part-finance Deficit.
The breakdowns shows that domestic debt was N23.7 trillion or 69.92 percent; while external debt was N15.855 trillion, representing 40.08 per cent.
The federal government portion of the debt was N33.228 trillion, with domestic accounting for N19.243 trillion and external N13.885 trillion, while all the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory owed a total of N6.428 trillion.
Oniha said the borrowings were already on a downward trajectory until the 2015-2016 recession, which reversed the trend.
She noted that the federal government has been consistently running a deficit budget for many years, including when oil prices were high, a reason she said, exacerbated the nation’s debt stock.
The DMO boss explained, however, that with the total Public Debt Stock to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as at December 31, 2021, of 22.47%, the nation’s Debt-to-GDP ratio still remained within Nigeria’s self-imposed limit of 40%.
She added: “This ratio is prudent when compared to the 55% limit advised by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for countries in Nigeria’s peer group, as well as, the ECOWAS Convergence Ratio of 70%.”
Oniha said that the nation’s challenge was how to manage the delicate balance of poor revenue and bridge the wide infrastructure gap in the country.
“Nigeria has a double challenge of a low revenue base and a huge infrastructure gap,” she said.