Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State has defended the huge foreign indebtedness of Nigeria, saying that the situation with the country is not “hopeless.”
The governor, who is also the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, the umbrella body of all governors of the All Progressives Congress(APC), spoke in Ado- Ekiti on Monday at a valedictory conference in honour of the outgoing governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi.
Mr Fayemi’s tenure as governor ends on Saturday, the 15th of October.
Governor Bagudu said the level of Nigeria’s indebtedness should not be a reason for people to be hopeless about the country.
The Debt Management Office had put Nigeria’s total public debt at N41.6trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2022 and is predicted to rise to N45 trillion by the end of the year.
The Federal Government is said to have spent N1.94trillion on debt servicing within the same period.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2023 budget comes with a deficit of N11.30trillion, projecting borrowing as one of the ways to fund the deficit.
The government has already finalised plans to borrow another N11trillion for that purpose.
But Mr Bagudu said Nigerians should not despair or be disillusioned over the situation.
“Even great nations like the USA, who are even more economically advanced than Nigeria are even more indebted than Nigeria,” Mr Bagudu said.
“What we need now are investments through global partnerships for over 200million population, to build our economy and build our people.”
Speaking further at the conference, the governor appealed to the incoming governor of Ekiti State, Biodun Oyebanji, to rejig governance in Ekiti by consolidating the gains already brought by Mr Fayemi to the people, describing this as the best way to build an economically virile state.
“Continuity in governance is key and germane to economic development. I charge the incoming Governor, Biodun Oyebanji to build on the legacy of his predecessor. Sustainability in governance is an essential ingredient of democracy,” he said.
“Governor Fayemi is one leader that is committed to the Nigerian dream. He is one leader that believes in the unity of this nation. He believes in progressive ideas. His utmost aim is to ensure that people get dividends of democracy.”
Also speaking at the conference, the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, urged Mr Oyebanji to invest in a knowledge-driven economy and fight poverty that is ravaging the people, for his administration to be indelible in the annals of history.
Mr Zulum added that Mr Oyebanji must focus attention on the infrastructural deficit in roads and other public utilities that can benefit the populace while superintending over the state, describing this as a pivot and boost to economic development.
“Every serious-minded government today in Nigeria must focus attention on poverty reduction, infrastructural deficit and the emerging climate change to curb incidences of natural disasters,” he said.
“The incoming governor, Biodun Oyebanji, has got the experience, having been part of this government and the expectation is that he will continue where Governor Fayemi stopped.”
In his lecture titled: ‘A Scholar in Power: Reflections on Power, Democracy And the Future of Nigeria’, a Professor of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania, USA, Adewale Adebamwi, said no federal system can be perfect, harping on the need for the current weak Nigerian system to be rejigged and strengthened.
He said the only way was for the people to be secured and all the strata of the Nigerian society well protected.
Mr Adebanwi said the most daring thing to an average Nigerian is good governance, which he said some agitators, whom he described as “reformists”, thought would turn Nigeria into a perfect society.