Experts raise concerns over Nigeria’s $3.3 billion debts to China
Experts have expressed anguish over Nigeria’s rising indebtedness to the People’s Republic of China, saying that it is a recipe for economic slavery.
This cross-section of experts, all members of Transforming Uplifting and Reforming Nigeria (TURN), a non-governmental organisation, hold the view and very strongly too that the loans from China come with a lot of baggage and as such demand that the nation’s economic managers should exercise caution.
Firing the first salvo, TURN President, Dr. AG Ahmed warned that loans taken by the government should not mortgage the future of the citizens or that of the unborn generation, while urging that government should involve experts from the private sector to evaluate the risks and benefits of a loan and take all necessary steps to ensure that it truly benefits the country.
Specifically, TURN boss said, “Nigeria’s external debt loan stands at $31.98 billion (Debt Management Office, DMO, September 30, 2020), most of which are owed to well-known international creditor agencies with which Nigeria has had a long history of dealing, like many other developing countries. In contrast, the bilateral loans which are owed to individual countries are of concern, and none is as worrisome as the unprecedented yet increasing sum of money owed to China which now stands at $3.3 billion or 80.1% of Nigeria’s bilateral debt load of $4.1 billion.”
While observing that the IMF had equally warned Nigeria of her increasing indebtedness to China, Ahmed said, “TURN’s evaluation of Chinese “investments” in Nigeria represents a sordid and unsustainable state of affairs that can in the end only hurt the Nigerian people. All loans from China are claimed to be on concessional terms according to the DMO. However, details of the loans are shrouded in secrecy and the demands of Nigeria’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, (FRA) for concessional loans have not been transparently met. The risks associated with the Chinese loans constitute clear, present and future danger despite the relatively small proportion of the loans to Nigeria’s overall debt.”
Echoing similar sentiments, the duo of Nelson O. Irobi, and Dr. Olusola Womiloju, both part of TURN, called for a rigorous and transparent evaluation of all current and active loans by the federal government conduct.