The Debt Management Office (DMO) yesterday assured that Nigeria’s economy would not collapse as the nation’s domestic debt burden hits N11 trillion and external debts stands at $11 billion.
The Director General of the DMO, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, gave the assurance during an interview with journalists in Kaduna shortly after the opening ceremony of a one-day enlightenment workshop for Nigerian Students’ Union.
The DMO boss explained that the economy is not only resilient and diversifiable but has started a more robust journey upward under the present administration, adding that it has become imperative for Nigerians to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve the desired change in all sectors of the economy.
Reminding the students of their roles in nation building, Dr Nwankwo noted that as the future leaders, they should imbibe positive attitudes to the leadership position for the betterment of the society.
Nwankwo described the theme of the workshop, ‘Understanding Public Debt Management’, as appropriate considering the mood of the nation.
Said he: “Presently Nigeria, owes domestically, about N11 trillion and externally about N11 billion dollars. Let me emphasise that debt matter is not just the quantum, what is important is how these resources are deplored to encourage growth, development, generate employment and reduce poverty.
“Secondly, it matters whether what you borrowed you are in a position to pay back, to service it as and when due. And in Nigeria’s case, I want to assure you that Nigeria’s debt remains sustainable.
“As you know, based on current global economic problems, particularly the collapse of oil prices, all of us should be aware that this is having significant impact on economies all over the world.
“But even at that, I can assure that the Nigerian economy is very resilient because the government is in control, and Nigeria will continue to remain sustainable.
“The debts figure is the total debt of the federation, including all the states governments, and the domestic debts of the federal government and all the state governments. So, the debts I mentioned is comprehensive; it is the total debts of Nigeria.
“Let me emphasise to you that Nigerians should congratulate the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that in spite of the shock occasioned by the very drastic fall in the oil revenue, we have continued to maintain a healthy reserve, and have continued to stabilise the Naira exchange rate.
“Nigeria should be very proud that it has a CBN, it has an economic system that in spite of the oil shock we had, other countries that have been in similar position, countries like Venezuela, Russia, have had their currencies devalued very rapidly in the 30 days of the oil shock. But you can observe that it was until about three months or four months later that in Nigeria case that the CBN has to do some little adjustments in the exchange rate.
“Go and check, some countries have to go into food riots, a country like Venezuela, just because there is a collapse in oil prices, but Nigeria should be proud that the economy is so resilient that at a least we gave enough food for our population, and food prices continue to be moderate.
“This shows that over these years, we have attempted to improve, to diversify the economy to centre on agriculture, and that is a source of inspiration for all of us that given the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, there is a certain change, and Nigerians should use this opportunity to do better than we did in the past by working that agriculture continues getting modernised so that we have food security, so that we also produce enough for processing and manufacturing to revive our agricultural sector.
“This is the time for all Nigerians to do their best. All hands must be on deck so that the economy continues getting stronger and stronger”.