The former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has decried that most Nigerian states are currently living on life support. He lamented that the trend these days is for all states to go to Abuja and share borrowed money. He regretted further that dear country uses 60% of her annual earnings to service debts.
He was speaking as the guest lecturer at the Annual Law Week organized by the Nigeria Bar Association, Imo State Chapter and held at the Villa Garden Hotels, Owerri on 27 April, 2018. The theme was The Restructuring Of Nigeria; a critical analysis.
‘’By 1980, Nigeria had a GDP of 141 billion dollars, savings of 10.5 billion dollars and per capita income of 870 dollars….compared with China that had a GDP of 341 billion dollars, 10 billion dollars in savings and per capita income of 193 dollars. Check the indices critically as we go to 2016 … where China has moved from 341 billion to 11 trillion dollars in GDP while Nigeria just crawled from 141 billion to 420 billion dollars! China also skyrocketed in savings from 10 billion to 3 trillion dollars while dear country that was above China moved from 10.5 billion to 30 billion dollars. China moved from per capita income of 193 to 9000 dollars while Nigeria moved from 870 to 2000 dollars. By comparison it’s pathetic and unacceptable!
‘’Let’s move to a smaller country like South Korea. In 1980, South Korea had 3 billion dollars in foreign reserve(savings). They have no oil but they moved from that to 400 billion dollars today. Remember our country moved from 10.5 to 30 billion dollars. It’s the same pathetic tale all over,’’ Obi continued while the audience listened attentively, evidently wondering why the one addressing them could reel out such figures without looking into any pre-written document.
The former governor went further to draw comparisons from the expected new world growing economic group of countries christened MINT. This comprises of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. The world is expecting significant growth from these four countries.
‘’Mexico, with a population of 130 million people has a GDP of 1.4 trillion dollars; Indonesia with a population of 250 million people has a GDP of 1.2 trillion dollars; Turkey with a population of 80 million people has a GDP of 1.8 trillion dollars. Nigeria with a population of 200 million people has a GDP of 420 billion dollars. We’re almost a third of the least of the MINT countries. Comparing with savings, dear country is even far further behind!
‘’By 2008 Nigeria’s debt of 32 billion dollars was cancelled, every cent of it. Today, we’re owing again to the tune of 70 billion dollars! Where in Imo State can any of you point to what this staggering debt has been used for? The Finance Minister said the other day that a country owing 20 % of her GDP is not under any financial threat. Certainly…she is right. No threat. But what becomes a threat is what the borrowed money is used for. If the money is used for production and genuine investments…then great, no threat whatsoever. But if the money is used for consumption like burials and partying then it’s not only threatening, it’s approaching anarchy! We’re heading for total collapse!
‘’Today, our country is using 60% of her earnings to service debts. Our national budget is about 8 trillion naira…and we’re borrowing 2.5 trillion out of it. We’re servicing old debts out of it. The same cuts across the states of the country. In fact, most of these states are completely dead. Forget bail out or whatever, they can no longer meet up with their obligations. Truth is that they are living on life support.’’
While the audience intermittently interrupted with applauses, the man popularly called Okwute continued.
‘’Every month states send their representatives to Abuja to partake in sharing borrowed money. We can’t continue like this. Our country is collapsing and we must restructure. And the exercise of restructuring is no rocket science. Bill Gates, at last Commonwealth summit, said that to do anything right that you have to look at those doing it right and copy from them,’’ Obi went on and on.