SAFEGUARDING THE FUTURE OF THE YOUTHS OF NIGERIA: A STAND AGAINST THE NATION’S BALLOONING DEBT AND HUMONGOUS CORRUPTION.
Join Nigerian Youths All Over to SIGN This Document | 139 Signatures At 12:00 PM 6th August
At the start of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, our nation’s economy was in dire straits, no thanks to the crippling debt burden that was hanging over our necks. The preceding military regimes had borrowed to stupor, with no care in the world about how subsequent generations would repay. International creditors were at our door threatening fire and brimstone. It was a truly embarrassing situation for Nigeria. Our president at the time, Olusegun Obasanjo, literally had to go cap in hand, begging our lenders for debt relief.
It was a shameful period in our nation’s history, where the once touted giant of Africa, went from walking tall to kneeling before foreign lenders, and eventually, to grovelling at the feet of the Paris Club, begging to be pardoned for its sins of financial recklessness. Fortune smiled on us. Our requests were granted. We were given a second chance. We got a partial debt relief of $18 billion and had to cough out $12billion.
Without that debt relief, Nigeria would have found it difficult to embark on the journey of development after years of military regime misrule. The humongous impact that another $18billion would have had on our economy would have meant that most of the monies made from oil sales would have gone to paying the debts that previous military leaders stashed away in accounts across the world instead of the investment in health, education, the real sector and the economy at large.
Did our leaders learn anything from that dark episode of our nation’s not too distant past? Apparently not. Just 20 years down the line, we find ourselves right back at the starting line, on the road to federal bankruptcy, and national insolvency, all leading to a possible pariah status among the committee of nations. Our leaders are again doing the unconscionable. Living for today alone, with no thought for tomorrow. Borrowing left, right and centre, without any care as to how the coming generations will repay and also troubling is the continued appetite for Chinese debts – details including repayment terms of almost all the Chinese debt taken are locked away from the public making it difficult for the public to scrutinize.. What is worse is that billions of these funds are again looted in official corruption practices of opaque procurements, inflated contracts and uncompleted projects that neither benefit citizens nor the country as a whole.
In Q1 of 2020, 99% of all revenue was channelled to debt servicing. While the country continues to borrow with an expected fiscal deficit of 5.1trillion in 2021, there is little to show for the revenue generation models for the country. A large percentage of the country’s economy is still largely informal – more than 70%. Compared to South Africa whose economy is smaller than Nigeria’s, the revenue generated from our economy is four times less than that of South Africa which is not an oil-producing country. As this petition is being drafted, a public hearing of a probe in the procurement of the Niger Delta Development Commission is ongoing with jaw-breaking revelations of billions paid to consultants and contractors which include lawmakers who are expected to give oversight to the commission.
Despite these realities and the lack of reforms that ensure that Nigeria is able to pay back its loans in the future, more loans are still being approved by various financial institutions across the world. This encourages even more recklessness and comfort on the part of the government so that it postpones whatever reforms it needs to carry out, even in instances where some of these reforms are a part of the criteria for securing these loans.
After a holistic analysis of the situation, it begins to appear to us that our Nigerian leaders are not the only culprits in this grand plot to mortgage the future of the youth. The international lenders are wittingly or unwittingly aiding and abetting this infringement on the financial rights, and the economic security of the future of our youths. The eagerness with which our creditors continue to grant loan requests from the Nigerian government gives room for worry and indeed suspicion. It gets one to begin to wonder whether or not there is a conspiracy to keep Nigeria and Nigerians impoverished, by continuing to grant loan requests, the continued serviceability of which are in doubt.
Seeing as we Nigerians have cried ourselves hoarse against the reckless borrowing habits of our government officials, all to no avail, perhaps a change in tactic might be necessary to salvage the situation. While we will continue to mount sustained pressure on the Nigerian government to curtail its tendency for financial recklessness and sign on to radical reforms that will increase in a sustainable manner the revenue generation capacity of the country and truly end the scourge of corruption in the country, we are by this letter and petition bringing to the notice of international lenders, the need for them to scale back on the enthusiasm with which they accede to loan requests from the Nigerian government. In the near future and in the instance of economic collapse, future governments led by Nigerian youths of today will be under no obligation to repay these bad loans at the detriment of our people and the development of our economy.
The World Bank, IMF and other development banks need to stay true to their brief of being development partners. They owe it a duty to the youths of Nigeria, to help our country along the path back to financial responsibility. They must be seen to be considerate of the plight of the coming generations of Nigerians, with regards to their need for a financially stable economy. If they choose to not follow this path, then they should not expect that at a time when the impending bankruptcy of the country happens due to these loans, future leaders will choose to repay back any loans they might have advanced, neither should they expect to take in exchange for these bad loans any assets that the Nigerian Government at the time might own.
As the young people of Nigeria and the generation expected to pay back these loans, we are dissociating ourselves from this and stating categorically that we are not a party to this recklessness and will not be held bound by them.