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Buhari’s Ally, Amina Mohammed, Regrets Nigeria’s Escalating Debt Profile

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Amina Mohammed, has described Nigeria’s rising debt profile as worrying.

Speaking at the International Monetary (IMF) and the UN working together conversation on Tuesday, the former Nigerian minister of environment said former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, spent years to get Nigeria out of debt, but the country is now back in it.

She said this in a chat with Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF.

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Mohammed said the UN and IMF must work together to seek ways to make economic growth better for developing economies.

“Public resources are always going to be important, and so is ODA and the private sector. But I think we still haven’t yet got quite the solution and I hope that the work that we do together will open up that space to think more on how to leverage that,” she said.

“As I was coming up from New York, some of the concerns that came up from the meeting we had in China just recently and reports that we have; the debt issues are really big, I mean, having experienced what it was for Ngozi (Okonjo-Iweala) to get debt relief.

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“It took her a few years to convince people, and we are now back again in my country, with a level of debt that is worrying, but its happening all over. Africa, is that the way we want to go?

“I think we really need to sit down and have a better conversation about all the asks of a growing economy; that needs to be inclusive, it needs to succeed, because stability is needed more than ever today, across our countries and where we are working.”

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Data from the Debt Management Office, DMO, shows that Nigeria’s public debt stock as at June 30, 2018 is about N22.3 trillion. Out of this amount, N12.15tn (roughly 50 per cent) was borrowed by the Federal Government from the domestic debt market.

The DMO said that at the end of June 2016, that the country’s total debt was about N16 trillion, representing an increase of over N8 trillion in two years.

According to data, the Nigerian government’s domestic debt stood at N16.62 trillion, as against N13.1 trillion recorded in 2016. This represents a domestic borrowing increase of 27 per cent.

On the other hand, Nigeria’s external debt for the federal and state governments rose from N3.18 trillion to N6.75 trillion in two years, representing an increase of N3.57 trillion.

After spending 25-years at the World Bank, Okono-Iweala currently chairs the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the African Risk Capacity (ARC). She is also a Senior Adviser at Lazard.

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The former Nigeria coordinating minister of economy has a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a Masters and PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She was very instrumental in securing Nigeria’s debt relief in 2006.

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