Nigeria is currently reeling from a chronic debt burden — ANEEJ
By: Femi Mustapha
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has said Nigeria is currently reeling from a chronic debt burden, which poses a formidable challenge to our nation’s progress.
The Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, asserted this during a stakeholder engagement event on advancing debt relief for climate action: Post African Climate summit reflection and the way forward held on 16th October 2023 in Abuja.
Rev. Ugolor lamented that the recent debt figures are worrisome, saying figures obtained from the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s public debt stood at N87.3 trillion as of June 30, 2023.
He stressed that implications for the country’s ability to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate commitments under the Paris Agreement are of deep concern.
“With the debt servicing costs reaching unprecedented levels, it is imperative that we address this issue urgently under the lens and voice of climate justice and push for debt relief for green climate solutions.”
Rev. Ugolor, therefore, called on stakeholders and other participants to join the esteemed lead presenters and discussants in the two dedicated sessions that will take a deeper dive into the nexus of debt and climate on the continent.
The ANEEJ Executive Director explained that the Stakeholder Engagement meeting with the theme: “Advancing Debt Relief for Climate Action: Post African Climate Summit Reflections and the Way Forward” is aimed at providing a platform for stakeholders, including political decision-makers, climate negotiators, legislators, and CSOs, to reflect on the outcomes of the Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi from 4th to 6th September.
He emphasizes the fact that the Nairobi climate summit underscored IPCC’s confirmation that Africa is warming faster than the rest of the world and if unabated, climate change will continue to have adverse impacts on African economies and societies and hamper economic growth and well-being.
“Additionally, this meeting aims to discuss how Nigeria can actively support the agenda of debt relief for climate action at the upcoming COP28 in the United Arab Emirates in November and beyond.
“We also aim to explore the implications of the call for debt relief as outlined in the Nairobi Declaration, specifically in terms of its relevance for Nigeria.
“Our discussions will also focus on the available platforms and processes for our country to advocate for a reform of the international financial architecture in this regard.
“It might interest you to know that as of 2022, more than half of the low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa were assessed by the IMF to be at high risk or already in debt distress. These trends have sparked concerns of a looming debt crisis in the region.
“Of the fifteen-member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), eleven of them are currently in debt distress.
“A new report by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa has disclosed that Nigeria and 10 other Economic Community of West African States countries are currently in debt distress based on debt sustainability analysis.
“The 10 other countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. The report, titled ‘Debt Management, Restructuring, and Sustainability in ECOWAS’, was recently launched at the Debt Management Office in Abuja.
“For us in ANEEJ, we believe that Nigeria has a pivotal role to play in the international politics of Climate and debt crisis in the region, and the Government of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu should position Nigeria to play this leading role.” He concluded.