Atiku Abubakar

OBINNA EZUGWU

Former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has warned that Nigeria is currently on the precipice, and that if the country’s revenue is not grown quickly enough, it will soon get to a point where its entire revenue will not be enough to service debts.

Atiku who ran for president under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform in 2019, gave the warning in a statement on Tuesday.

He pointed out that Nigeria’s penchant for borrowing endlessly, will lead it to endless sorrowing.

“We are at a precipice. If our revenue figures do not go up, and go up quickly, Nigeria risks a situation where our revenue can’t sustain our debt servicing obligations. Meaning that we may become insolvent, and our creditors may foreclose on us.

“In my opinion editorial of December 17 2019, titled ‘Endless Borrowing Will Lead Nigeria to Endless Sorrowing’, I had cause to counsel the Federal Government to desist from indiscriminate lending, and offered suggestions on ways to both increase revenue and reduce expenditure,” Atiku said in the statement he shared via his twitter handle, @atiku.

“However, my counsel fell on deaf ears. And now we have come to this. Again, on May 15, 2020, I counselled that the FG ought to reduce Nigeria’s budget by at least 25%, to reflect the economic realities of the times that we live in. Again, my entreaties were brushed aside.

“As part of an administration that paid off Nigeria’s entire foreign debt, I am concerned by the alarming and avoidable unprecedented increase in our debt to GDP ratio and debt to revenue ratio. The alarm I sounded last year is now sounding louder.

“Not only have we squandered our opportunities, we have also squandered the opportunities of our future generations by bequeathing them a debt that they neither incurred nor enjoyed.

“As a matter of utmost urgency and importance, I call on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to drastically reduce its expenditure, especially on wasteful projects, such as maintenance of the Presidential Air Fleet, and unnecessary renovations of buildings that could serve as is, limousine fleet for top government officials, overseas travels and treatments, and the ₦4.6billion Presidential villa maintenance budget, etc.

“We cannot be on the verge of economic ruin, while still maintaining a Presidential Air Fleet that has more planes than the Presidential fleets of those from whom we take these loans. Nigeria must sell those planes and channel the revenue to other vital areas of need while taking additional steps to reduce the cost of running our government.

“The Federal Government cannot continue to justify these unsustainable numbers by pointing at Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio. That is only half the picture. Our debt to revenue ratio paints a much more realistic portrait of our financial situation, especially as our revenues are majorly tied to a mono-product, oil and gas, which are very vulnerable to global shocks.

“Again, I warn that Nigeria is facing a crisis, and we cannot continue to keep up appearances by taking out more loans to prop up our economy. That will amount not just to robbing Peter to pay Paul, but to robbing our children to pay for our greed!”