Former Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has become the latest voice to express concern over the country’s worsening economic and security situation.
Sanusi, who spoke at the Akinjide Adeosun Foundation (AAF) leadership colloquium, held in Lagos on Thursday, said the APC-led government has allowed Nigeria’s economic and security situation to deteriorate, becoming far worse than what it was in 2015.
The former Emir of Kano, who was critical of the past administration led by Goodluck Jonathan, decried Nigeria’s rising debt. He said the country has already become bankrupt, describing the situation as being in a “deeper hole.”
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“We were in a deep hole in 2015. And between 2015 and now, we have been digging ourselves into a deeper hole. We thought we had a big problem in 2015. 2015 is nothing compared to what will happen in 2023,” Sanusi said.
“We have terrorism, we have banditry, we have inflation, we have an unstable exchange rate, and the worst thing is that those in leadership actually think we are going to thank them when they leave office, that we are going to appreciate them. There is no change,” he added.
His criticism follows the throng of other voices condemning the lukewarm attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government in the face of the “mess.”
Sanusi said Nigeria’s bankruptcy is masterminded by its inability to cash in on the oil windfall orchestrated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“Nigeria is the only oil-producing country that is grieving at the moment when oil prices have gone up as a result of the Russia/Ukraine war,” he said, adding that the nation’s inability to service its debt is evidence that “we are in a mess,” he said.
Nigeria’s public debt portfolio has significantly risen above N41 trillion due to massive revenue drop from oil export, creating a huge debt to revenue ratio disparity.
“Our total revenue is not able to service our debt. And if anybody does not understand that we are in a complete mess, we are. There is no sense of urgency. If you are running a company and your sales revenue cannot pay interest, you know you’re bankrupt. When the total revenue of the federal government cannot service debt, we are smiling,” Sanusi added.
Last month, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed announced that the cost of servicing debt surpassed the federal government’s retained revenue by N310 billion in the first four months of 2022, confirming the fear that Nigeria’s debt is no longer sustainable.
Buhari pledged to diversify Nigeria’s economy with focus on agriculture. However, the president has failed to redeem that pledge due to terrorism and banditry raging in the north, which have greatly jeopardized farming activities in the region.
Besides this, the government has been criticized for enacting policies that have been detrimental to the country’s economic well being. For instance, in 2019, Buhari announced the closure of Nigerian land borders, and subsequently the import ban of food items including the staple rice. The decision has been fingered as the major reason why Nigeria’s inflation rate has risen above 18%, compounding the nation’s poverty situation.