Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Friday, said Nigeria’s economic situation could “get worse when the oil and gas it relies on would no longer command premium demand as in the past.”
Obasanjo made this statement as a keynote speaker, at the “Why I am Alive” campaign, which held in Lagos.
The ex-president also said Nigeria risks impending bankruptcy over the continuous accumulation of debt by the government and added he was worried for the future generations who would have to pay such loans.
“Such a situation talks about an impending bankruptcy. No entity can survive while devoting 50 per cent of its revenue to debt servicing.
“It has recently been pointed out that in 2018 that total debt servicing took over 60 per cent of government revenue. What’s more, we are not doing enough to address the fundamental, deep-seated and structural challenges that inhibit the expansion of our economy.
“To worsen matters, the present government was currently seeking to add another $29.6bn loan to our already overburdened debt portfolio.
“A well-calibrated debt for infrastructure and other developmental goals could be very positive. However, we do not need to speculate. We need to examine our historical experience.
“Everyone knows that our governments are notoriously deficient in serious and adequate discipline and most often lack competence and consistency as well.”
“Nigeria’s leadership was key in the campaign for debt relief in the late 90s/early 2000s. Our relapse into debt will be wrong, signalling to the rest of the continent and could be tantamount to backing the entire continent into another era of ‘highly-indebted poor countries.
“For once, all Nigerians need to rise up and shout in one voice and call on the National Assembly to rise up to its core duty and responsibility and save our children and our grandchildren and great-grandchildren from being mired in debt.
“We have several national assets that could be used to raise some of the funds that we need in this respect for infrastructural development to give assurance to private sector investors and PPP (Public-Private Partnership) investors, if necessary.
“There are even more discoveries outside of Africa that have given better attractions to international oil and gas investors. There are alternatives in the wind, solar and other forms of energy that are becoming cheaper by the day with ever-improving technology in these areas.
“The issue of climate change is daily making oil and gas less important than they had been up till now. Electric cars and solar-driven forms of means of mobility and transportation will make oil and gas more in the ground than being exploited for transportation.
“To make the future sustainable, the government needs to focus on key areas such as education; health and social well-being; manufacturing and industrialisation; infrastructure; and agribusiness,” Obasanjo’s speech read in part.