Faced with rising debts, Africa must look inwards, the Director-General (D-G) of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha, has advised.
She spoke at the launch of the report of a Debt Sustainability study commissioned by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) under the Debt Management Roundtable (DMR), in Abuja, yesterday.
According to her, the stark realities confronting Sub-Saharan Africa were such that only a new focus on revenue generation from within; could save the region from a debt crisis.
She said, “The timing of the launch of the report could not have been more appropriate with the global debt levels already rising pre-COVID-19 and still growing since the COVID-19 pandemic started in the year 2020.
“Concerns around debt sustainability have expectedly heightened. According to the Word Bank’s World Economic Outlook, ‘Globally, sovereign debt grew from 49.1per cent of GDP in 2014 to 57.9percent in 2019. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, from 35.1per cent of GDP in 2014 to 55.4percent in 2019.’”
The respective figures for 2021 were 66.7percent and 60.3percent.
“The indications are that the trend will continue as the economic consequences of COVID-19 may linger for a longer period, coupled with the increased economic pressures in the form of rising inflation from higher food and energy prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine War.”
With the current situation, Oniha said that most of the adversely affected nations would continue to borrow but that members of ECOWAS should seek the most credible alternative to borrowing, which she identified as expansion of the revenue base.
According to her, “Concerns about debt sustainability and the need for restructuring have been stronger for Sub-Saharan Africa, due to high debt service costs when compared to revenues.
“It is, therefore, an absolute necessity for West African countries to place sharper focus on domestic resource mobilization. Nigeria is already on that path through the Strategic Revenue growth Initiative (SRGI) and the Finance Acts that have been enacted since 2019.”
The report said that member nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) faced risks of debt crisis, unless urgent steps were taken by their various governments to address rising debts.
According to the report, “In ECOWAS, five major research issues emanated from the debt situation. To begin with, numerous ECOWAS countries benefitted from debt elimination during the debt relief tsunami of 2005-2008.
“However, public debt has increased to the point where it is approaching crisis proportions just over a decade later. Debt sustainability needs corrective actions such as debt restructuring and the discovery of viable debt alternatives.”
The report, which was presented by the Chairman of the OSIWA-NESG DMR, Dr. Taiwo Oyedele, indicated that the rising debt portfolio of the sub-region was directly linked to the sustained deficit fiscal positions of member nations.
“The overall fiscal environment in ECOWAS has remained in an uninterrupted deficit since 2009. The COVID-19 pandemic, which engendered a global disruption in the economy’s demand and supply side, has consequently led to an unprecedented increase in fiscal deficit to a tune of 6.8percent of the nominal GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
“The fiscal deficit of ECOWAS in 2020 expanded by 53percent to $46.22billion. Meanwhile, the fiscal deficit expanded by 17.6per cent , 122.4percent and 170percent in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in order of the size of their economy, respectively.
“This makes Nigeria, the country with the largest fiscal deficit in the region in 2020, while Ghana recorded the largest increase in the budget deficit in the year.”
While fielding questions on Nigeria’s debt management, Oyedele commended the Federal Government for the public debt data transparency policy adopted by the Debt Management Office.
“He said, one policy of the Federal Government that is worth commending is the public debt data transparency. This is commendable. The Federal Government has also been very intentional with the debt mix- both external borrowing and domestic borrowing.”
The chairman urged that the Federal Government could do better with its project-tied borrowings as exemplified with the Second Niger Bridge and the Sukuk, which would ensure that borrowed funds are transparently utilised to engender economic growth.
Fubara Set To Create New Cities In Rivers
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has disclosed that arrangements are at advanced stages to achieve the development of new cities in the state that would help to decongest Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
Fubara said that the new cities would end the one city status of Rivers State and attract more investors into the state.
The governor stated this when he inspected the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority’s (GPHCDA) office and project sites in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
Fubara said: “I can assure you that in our time, we might not achieve the dream of that big city in four years, but we will add a few things that would also help us in getting at that target.
“This is because, we are thinking of decongesting the present one city state that we have, which is Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor. We are thinking of developing other parts of the state and our coming here is to see what the agency has been doing, what you have done already and what we can also do to make us achieve more new cities in our state.”
Fubara noted that despite the challenges the agency has been facing, there would be remarkable difference in what it would achieve within his tenure if the agency’s development ideals are aligned with those of the state government.
He, however, charged the agency to be self-sustaining by attracting investors as outlined by its establishment law.
Also speaking, the Sole Administrator of GPHCDA, Amb Desmond Akawor, said that since its establishment in 2009 by the Greater Port Harcourt Law, the agency has been slowed down in creating more cities because of its operational structure and the nature of the Public-Private Partnership it adopted.
Akawor, who is the Rivers State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), explained that a new legal framework has been fine-tuned by the last GPHDA board, which the current management would present to the governor.
He said: “I am sure that with your directives, we will be able to reschedule some of the projects so that we can move forward with all of our partners, especially in the area of reforming or strengthening the public private partnership arrangements.”
Majority Leader Seeks Immortalisation Of Slain DPO
The Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie, has appealed to the Police High Command to consider the immortalisation of the murdered Divisional Police Officer(DPO) in charge of Ahoada East Divisional Headquarters, SP Bako Angbashim, and commiserated with the State Commissioner of Police, CP Emeka Nwonyi; officers and men of the Police Force; and the family of the deceased over the brutal murder of the DPO.
Ehie, who made the appeal in a statement said the slain DPO deserves to be immortalised as he was a gallant, fearless and courageous police officer who distinguished himself in the fight against criminals and bandits in the State, adding that the calamitous killing and decapitation of the DPO by Mr Gift David Okpara Okpolowu, alias 2 Baba and his criminal gang is “an unprecedented low which shocked me beyond words and threw my constituents into an endless mourning circle”.
As the Honourable member representing Constituency 2 at the Rivers State House of Assembly and the incumbent Leader of the House, Ehie said he is using this medium to unreservedly condemn the senseless killing and decapitation of the DPO, and also to reiterate the call for the immediate apprehension and prosecution of his killers and everyone associated with the condemnable act.
Describing SP Angbashim as a gallant, fearless and courageous police officer who distinguished himself in the fight against criminals and bandits in the State, the lawmaker said the slain DPO was the one who single-handedly restored peace and order in Ogoniland.
“Even within the few months he spent in Ahoada East Local Government Area, the results of his gallantry were visible for all to see and appreciate.This is why his killing is not only calamitous and lamentable, but an affront to the government of the day in the State”, he said, adding that no government worths its salt will fold it’s arms and allow criminals and bandits to freely prey on its citizenry in order to make the State ungovernable.
On this score, therefore, Ehie thanked the Governor of the State, Sir SiminalayiFubara for prompt response to the situation which he said has already started yielding wonderful fruits, with some of the criminals associated with the killing of the DPO now under police detention and interrogation.
He also thanked and commend the officers and men of the Police Force as well as operatives of other sister security agencies in the State for their uniquely stellar efforts in fishing out the killers of the DPO.
The Majority Leader, however, called on all Ekpeye people, traditional rulers, chiefs, political elites and the general public to gratuitously assist and work with the police and other security agencies in ensuring that the killers of SP Angbashim are fished out, apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law, saying, “May our State never again witness this type of murderous orgy and life wastage”.
Ehie also appealed to the Police High Command in the State to consider the immortalisation of the slain DPO, while also appealing for meaningful and deserving support to his family and dependants.
While conveying his heart-felt condolences to the Nigerian Police, especially the officers and men of the Rivers State Police Command, the lawmaker prayed the Almighty God to grant them the fortitude to bear the monumental loss. He equally extended his deepest condolences to the family of the DPO, and prayed God to console them and heal their wounds.
Ehie further noted that “the biggest debt we collectively owe SP Bako Angbashim is to redress his killing by arresting his killers and subjecting them to justice.”
Appeal Court Upholds Banigo’s Senatorial Election Victory
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, upheld the judgment of the Rivers State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal that declared Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the Rivers West Senatorial District Election held on February 25, 2023.
The Appellant Court, in her judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senatorial Candidate, Hon. Asita O. Asita as “lacking in merit”.
In her reaction shortly after the verdict at the court premises, the Banigo hailed the judgment, describing it as an “incontrovertible victory of irreversible Senate seat”.
She expressed gratitude to the Almighty God, the leaders/stakeholders of the PDP and the entire members of the Rivers West Senatorial District for their unflinching support.
Banigo assured them of her loyalty and total commitment towards realising the tenets of her Kingdom Mandate.
News4 days ago
Workers Demand Umahi’s Removal As Minister Locks 300 Staff Out For Lateness
Politics2 days ago
Kaduna Governorship: Re-Run Not Part Of My Prayers – PDP’s Ashiru
News2 days ago
‘Germany, Sweden, Others Deport 170 Nigerians In Nine Months’
Niger Delta4 days ago
Customs Intercepts IED Raw Materials, Other Contrabands Worth N1.6bn
Niger Delta2 days ago
Edo 2024: Oba Blesses Guber Aspirants
Business2 days ago
Blackout Looms As Electricity Workers Join Labour’s Planned Strike
News4 days ago
Customs Exceeds Revenue Target, Generates N343bn
Business4 days ago
Cardoso Focuses On Monetary Policies To Save Naira