An economist, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, on Monday described the nation’s debt stock of N21.73 trillion as worrisome and urged the Federal Government to stop external borrowing.
Tella, a professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, expressed his views in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He said that the current size of the country’s external debt was worrisome.
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NAN reports that the Debt Management Office (DMO), on March 14, said that Nigeria’s external debt had risen to 18.91 billion dollars (N5.79 trillion) as at Dec. 31, 2017.
The DMO said that domestic debt also rose to N15.94 trillion, bringing the total debt stock to N21.725 trillion (70.92 billion dollars).
According to the economist, the total external debt of 18.91 billion dollars is very high compared to the current Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said that the current GDP growth rate was largely due to higher crude oil price than increased output in agriculture.
Tella said that there was no rationale for government to borrow in dollars to offset domestic debts, stressing that part of the earnings from oil should be monetised to offset such debt.
According to him, government is borrowing as if the country is not earning foreign exchange which can be used to meet some of the external needs.
“What is the pride in accumulating external debt when you are at the same time building external reserve?
The ratio of debt service to the annual budget continues to rise, thereby depriving the nation of funds that should go into project execution and general economic development,” Tella said.
He said that apart from the delay in passing the 2018 budget and attendant delay in budget implementation which were affecting the speed of economic recovery, the huge sums spent on debt servicing also contributed to the slow economic recovery.
“This is the time to put a stop to these orgies of borrowing. How much of the dollar borrowed reach the shores of Nigeria?
“A sizeable proportion is used for agency fees, facilitator fees, technical expertise, purchase of equipment, machinery, and other production inputs that are not produced locally, and payments are made for all these in foreign currency,” the don said.
Tella said that a number of research results had shown that external debts had negative impact on the development of the country.
He said that the earlier the National Assembly stopped approving borrowing, the better it would be for the country.
Tella said that there must be a threshold for external reserve and once the threshold is met, the rest should be for infrastructure development and other items we borrowed money to execute.
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Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe
Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.
The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).
The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.
According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.
It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.
“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.
“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”
The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.
Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival
Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.
Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.
But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.
“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.
The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.
Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.
The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.
That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.
Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.
“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.
He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.
“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”
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