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Public Debt: Nigeria’s largest creditors as of December 2023  

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

According to data from the Debt Management Office (DMO), the total public debt in Nigeria is an estimated N97.34 trillion ($108.23 billion) as of December 2023.

This figure was an increase of 146% from N39.56 trillion ($95.77 billion) at the end of the previous year.  

The major reason for the significant increase is the addition of CBN’s N20 trillion ($48 billion) in Ways and Means lending to the government and about 60% devaluation of naira.   

The federal and state governments owe a combination of domestic and foreign debts. Domestic debt is made up of FGN securities, treasury bills, and more recently, CBN’s Ways and Means. On the foreign scene,

Nigeria owes countries like China, France, Germany and Japan (bilateral debts) and multilateral institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the African Development bank (AfDB).  

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 Domestic Debt 

The federal and state government mostly borrows money by issuing bonds to the domestic market in the local currency, the naira. According to the data from the DMO, Nigeria’s total domestic debt is about N59.12 trillion out of which the states owe N5.86 trillion.  The biggest sources of domestic debt as of December 2023 are FGN securities, making a total of N59.12 trillion, which make up 40% of Nigeria’s total debt.  

FGN Bonds N42.2 trillion (+169.5% YoY)  

Nigeria Treasury Bills N6.5 trillion (+47.5% YoY)  

Promissory Notes N1.33 trillion (+150.8% YoY) 

FGN Sukuk Fund N1.09 trillion (+47.1% YoY) 

FGN Saving Bonds N39.18 billion (+42.4% YoY) 


 Foreign Debt 

The latest data as of December 2024, confirms Nigeria’s total external debt balance is $42.5 billion (N38.22 trillion), with states owing $4.61 billion (N4.15 trillion)  

Islamic Development Bank $238.17 million (+70.01% YoY) 

Africa Growing Together Fund $23.35 million (+28.50% YoY) 

Exim Bank of China $5.17 billion (+20.30% YoY) 

International Development Association $14.96 billion (+11.30% YoY) 

International Fund For Agricultural Development $277.4 million (+9.80% YoY) 

What this means: Nigeria’s total public debt of about N97.34 trillion is about 42% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which according to international standards is well within limits but above Nigeria’ self-imposed limit of 40%.  

Nigeria is not in any favorable position to take on more foreign debts at the current rates considering the state of government revenues and the devaluation of naira. However, to meet its large budget deficits, it is likely to keep borrowing, especially by issuing more FGN securities.  

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