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FORMER governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and past Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi says the country has set itself up to fail due to its poor political structure.
Sanusi said this on Thursday during an online roundtable event titled ‘Debt Relief for a Green and Inclusive Recovery in Nigeria?’ hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Centre for the Studies of the Economies of Africa (CSEA).
He lamented that high number of government officials was consuming the bulk of the nation’s wealth.
“We have 36 states, 774 local governments, each LGA has a chairman, a speaker, at least 10 councillors, the state has a governor, deputy and legislature. You can imagine the hundreds of legislators.
“By the constitution, we have a president and vice-president, 36 ministers. We have a bicameral legislature consisting of 360 House of Representatives members and 109 senators.
“Each of these political office holders has a retinue of personal staff, vehicle and so on. We have set ourselves up to fail.”
He added that even if Nigeria had debt relief, the political structure was unsustainable due to high cost of governance.
Sanusi, who is an economist, stated that another considerable element concerning debt relief in Nigeria was rapid growth in population.
“We need to have social policies around demographic growth. There are parts of this country where the fertility rate is more than eight live births per woman. Some parts are also highly polygamous.
“There’s no way you can continue growing at 3.4 per cent when your economy is growing at a slower rate and expect to deal with poverty. We should fashion policies around population, education, targeted programmes to reduce out of school children, quality jobs,” he added.
He further stated if official creditors were to grant Nigeria debt forgiveness, the creditors would like to know if the nation was transitioning from fossil fuel to green economy, which was a complicated transition.
In 2005, the Paris Club and Nigeria agreed on an $18 billion debt relief package during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
According to data obtained from the Debt Management Office (DMO), as of fourth-quarter 2020, Nigeria’s foreign debt stood at $33.3 billion.
Despite its debt profile, Nigeria still borrow funds to finance major projects. The most recent of such borrowings is the $1.5 billion on Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC), a project that has been found to be financially unsafe.