The Centre for Social Justice (CENSOJ) has insisted that Nigeria has a serious revenue crisis due to dwindling revenue inflow.
The Lead Director of CENSOJ, Eze Onyekpere, who stated this on Wednesday in Abuja, while fielding questions from journalists explained that the country’s debt was becoming unsustainable because “we do not have money to pay.”
In August at a meeting with management staff of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in Abuja, Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed, has said that Nigeria does not have a debt problem, despite misgivings amongst experts over the country’s rising debt profile.
Ahmed, who decried what she termed ‘insensitivity’ concerning the country’s debt situation, said what Nigeria had at the moment was a revenue problem rather than debt challenge.
She said: “There is a lot of insensitivity around the level of our debt.
“I want to restate that our debt is not too high; what we have is a revenue problem.
“Our debt is still very much within a reasonable fiscal limit. In fact, amongst our comparative countries, we are the least in terms of borrowing.”
However, Onyekpere insisted that the minister was playing on words when she said Nigeria has a revenue challenge rather than a debt problem. According to him, it doesn’t make sense.
“You don’t repay debt with GDP story, you repay debt with revenue. Last year, we used over 54 per cent of our actual money we earned before we borrowed more to pay debt that is not sustainable. If you recall there was an alarm bell under Obasanjo when our debt was $36 billion before it was repaid and today it is about $82 billion. So, we’ve actually done close to X3. If there was an alarm bell at $36 billion, and you are doing $81 billion, and somebody says there shouldn’t be an alarm bell then the person is deceiving himself. The truth is that there is a serious debt problem,” he added.