Newspaper headlines Tuesday morning was that Nigeria’s public debt was now N10.8 trillion up from N8.2 trillion. In fact, the Punch reported the news this way
The total debt of the Federal Government, the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory rose from N8.32tn on September 30, 2013 to N10.84tn on September 30, 2014.
This means that the nation’s total debt stock rose by N2.52tn or 30.29 per cent within one year period.
It’s not that we don’t owe that much its just the way it was sensationalized. In fact, Nigeria has been owing over N10trillion since January 2014 and has just added N841billion this year alone. Even so, it appears the N8.32trillion in debt as at September 2013 is not comparing apple for apples. Indeed the make up of our debts back then is quite different from the way our public debt is reflected today. The chart below basically explains it.
As you can see from above, the Debt Management Office for some reason did not include Domestic Debts from states in 2013 even though they were borrowing at the time. Nevertheless, It also thus appear we have been adding at least N200billion to our debt every quarter since September last year. Also, in terms of debt to GDP which is a measure used by the international community our ratio is 12.5% compared to the US which has over 100% debt to GDP ratio.