Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II Lamido Sanusi, Wednesday in Kaduna raised alarm that the federal government spends a whooping 66 per cent of Nigerian revenue on servicing debt interest, while 34 per cent of the revenue was used for capital and recurrent expenditures.
Addressing the second Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, the former CBN Governor said that the amount earmarked for debt servicing in the 2017 budget was more than the revenue from non oil sector.
He added that Nigeria was getting more steeped in debt and had reached its borrowing limit leaving nothing to invest.
The economist said the current recession being faced by Nigeria and other African countries was occasioned by rising commodity pricing occasioned by China’s rising economic growth.
The Emir noted that there was Africa’s rising debt after the debt relief by the London and Paris clubs, adding that the economic growth would not come from borrowing but from local and foreign investments.
“Federal Government spends 66% of revenue on interest of debt leaving only 34% of revenue available for capital and recurrent expenditure. In the 2017 budget presented by the President the amount earmarked for debt servicing is in excess of the non oil revenue.
“The problem with the budget is that it goes for more debts considering that 66% is paid as interest from the nation’s revenue, that means, more debts will be accumulated for the country so where do we stop, 70%, 80%.
“As a country both national and state government level, the model of borrowing has reached its limit growth can only come from investment because you cannot continue to borrow unsustainably.
“You have governors who visit China on a month’s tour and eventually return home with MoUs for debts to invest in infrastructures that might not have direct impact on citizens.
“Borrowing to invest in light trains in regions like Northern Nigeria does not drive the economy but instead encourages them to join the trains to attend weddings or naming ceremony.
“At the end of the day, a nation and a state is only transformed by vision, once the vision is flawed every single thing that follows logically collapses,” he said.
In a keynote address titled ‘Promoting Investment in the Face of Economic Challenges,’ Emir Sanusi said if North West and North East were to be countries, they would be one of the poorest countries in the world, noting that Borno and Yobe states were poorer than Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
He said the two regions were backward in all human development indices such as adult literacy, maternal morbidity, infant mortality, girl child completion rate, per capital income and number of children out of school among others.
The monarch lamented the recurring impasse between the executive arm, National Assembly and the judiciary, noting that it could only serve as distraction as it did not allow the national leaders focus on issues affecting the common man such as power, education, healthcare, infrastructure.
“All the conversation is about the national assembly, the executive, the judiciary, conflict between this politician and that politician as well as confirmation of EFCC boss.
“Within the period in review, there has been no serious conversation around the people. It has created noise at the expense of good efforts.
“If you create noise, nobody is seeing your progress on security, the fight against corruption. All we see is a constant struggle between certain politicians and others holding this country to ransom and all of us have been sucked into it.
“To this end, I join the Sultan by calling on our political leaders at national and sub-national levels to please remember that elections is in 2019 and not in 2017, nobody wins election in 2017, therefore, let us stop playing politics and talk about education and healthcare.
“It’s too early to leave your post and maybe when we get to late 2018, you can stop working and politicise, we will understand that but for now it is too early.
“You can’t be in politics for four years. This is a big problem when we are talking about difficult economic environment, a lot of which is self inflicted,” he lamented.
The Emir congratulated Gov. Nasir El-Rufai for organizing the forum which he described as timely and said it was because of the importance of the event to Kaduna State and the nation in general that he decided to be in attendance.