Kola Ayeye, Chief Executive Officer of Asset Management, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to leave office in 2023 with more foreign debt than he inherited from Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
Ayeye spoke on Wednesday, when he appeared on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, monitored by Newsbreak.
The Jonathan administration was said to have left about $10 billion foreign debt in 2015. However, Nigeria’s external debt currently stands at $35 billion within six years of the current administration.
While commenting on the statistics released on Tuesday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), indicating that inflation in the country fell to 17. 93 per cent in May, Ayeye noted that the nation’s economy is still in a “bad place”.
He commended the federal government’s effort to drive infrastructure, but noted that it is not yielding any positive economic indices, especially with the number of Nigerians living in abject poverty despite the heavy borrowings.
According to the economist, the Buhari administration should take advantage of the remaining two years it has left in office to change its approach towards borrowing and work towards significantly reducing the country’s foreign debt profile.
“The legacy President Muhammadu Buhari can leave is to ensure that the country is not owing more than the $10 billion debt he inherited. The government has done well by focusing on the provision of infrastructure, but they can say ‘we have tried, though it is not working’. They can change their approach.
“So that means the country needs $25 billion in the next two years to pay back. I’m not against the government, I love this country and I also love poor people. I’ve had the opportunity to take foreign passports but i declined. One of the stations I served, I used to travel a lot between states. What used to break my heart is when you even travel between state capitals and when you look at the roads and these are major roads and then you look at quality of houses where people are living. We need to lift poor people up.
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“Whether it is best of intentions or not, it is beside the point. What we have done for six years has tripled foreign debts, has more than tripled domestic debt and has only produced 1.9 per cent economic growth, and it is producing more 100 million people living below poverty line.
“It is not politics, it is just for us to look and say ‘Okay, we meant well but it is as if it didn’t work. This last two years, maybe we should change course, may be if we change course, may be even if we don’t leave the average Nigerian much better off, we won’t leave him worse off than we met him’,” he advised.