By Saatah Nubari
It was Fela Kuti that said “Trouble sleep, Yanga go wake am.” Wise words from a decent man I must add, but the point here is that you owe 102,000 Naira. Your wife gave birth yesterday to your first child? Congratulations man; you, your wife and your baby now owe 102,000 Naira each. Here is a consolation, those your village people, those firmly against your progress, they all owe 102,000 each too. “Kpatakpata na draw,” Fela didn’t say this, but those are wise words.
According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s Public Debt Stock as at 30th June 2017 is 19.6 trillion Naira. In June of 2015, that amount was 12.1 trillion Naira. Prior to that, in 2013, it stood at 7.9 trillion. Going by this, our collective debt rose by approximately 50% in 2015 and by 2017, it had increased by 100%.
When these figures get in contact with some mathematical symbols, the entire dynamics does change. You are probably awaiting the explanation regarding how you and every other Nigerian is indebted up to the tune of 102,000 Naira as at this year. Not to worry, that is what we will be calculating next.
As at 2013, Nigeria’s population estimate by the World Bank was put at 171,000,000 while our total debt stock was approximately 7,900,000,000,000. That amount split equally amongst the estimated population gives us an Individual Debt Share—I call it IDS—of approximately 46,000 Naira. On the other hand, in 2015, according to same source, our population grew by 10,000,000, taking us to 181,000,000, while our debt stock took a “giant leap of faith” and perched at 12,100,000,000,000. Dividing a 12,100,000,000,000 debt amongst Nigerians in 2015 would have amounted to approximately 66,000 Naira for each living Nigerian. In 2017, the Nigerian population has been estimated to be approximately 191,000,000, and with our total debt at 19,600,000,000,000, you owe approximately 102,000 Naira. You remember that your friend, Udeme, the great man? Yup, he owes 102,000 too.
According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 Poverty Report, 67.1% of our population live below the poverty line. That 67.1 percent of the populations translates to approximately 112,000,000.
To be “designated” as poor, you should be earning at least $2 a day. At 350 Naira to $1, that is 750 Naira a day and 22,500 Naira a month, and 127,000,000 Nigerians are poor and cannot boast of that amount as total income monthly. We have not included those on the income level above 22,500 a month, who still cannot pay 102,000 Naira even if you put a gun to their head.
It doesn’t matter to the government of President Buhari that having arguably outborrowed almost every government in Nigeria’s very short history, he has nothing to show for it, and yet, the very poor Nigerian populace, from Sokoto to Rivers State, have to bear the brunt of his misadventure.
Another point I want you to take note of is that, despite borrowing in excess of 7,500,000,000,000 within the last two years, the present Federal Government under President Buhari has not commissioned a major project it started. Still, it wants to borrow more without being able to account, by any means, how it has spent trillions of Naira or billions of Dollars on the Nigerian economy with nothing to show for it. Mr Obahiagbon will call this something like “criminal criminalness” but it doesn’t fit. I’ll instead say it is as a result of our own “foolish foolishness.”
The 2019 elections will soon be upon us, and these same people who have mismanaged the economy and our resources and sent us deep into this blackhole of debt have begun strategising, but we, the people, are not strategising. Voter registration is still very low. It is easier to say something like “wetin concern me” than go out to cast a vote for the right persons and defend that vote. This thing isn’t magic, Nigerians need to be more involved in the political process, but until then, “wetin concern me,” every Nigerian owes 102,000 Naira, and “I no gree, I no gree” will not change it.
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