The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has accused Vice President-elect, Yemi Osinbajo, of misrepresenting facts regarding Nigeria’s economy , particularly, the correct status of the country’s debt stock.
The PDP said Mr. Osinbajo’s recent claim that the Jonathan administration was leaving behind a $60 billion debt, was a deliberate attempt to discredit the PDP.
Mr. Osinbanjo made the claim last week while opening a two-day Policy Dialogue on the implementation of the Agenda for Change organised by the Policy, Research and Strategy Directorate of the APC Presidential Campaign Council in Abuja.
He said that currently, Nigeria’s local and international debt stands at US$60 billion.
“Our Debt servicing bill for 2015 is N953.6 billion, 21 per cent of our Budget. On account of severely dwindled resources, over two-thirds of the states in Nigeria owe salaries. Federal institutions are not in much better shape. Today, the nation borrows to fund recurrent expenditure,” he said.
The minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, later said the total debt was $63 billion, but said it represented state and federal debts, the bulk of it predating the Jonathan administration.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, on Monday criticized the Vice President-elect for failing to be bold and honest enough to also inform the nation that the bulk of the $63.7 billion debt was incurred by APC states.
“It is indeed unfortunate that the Vice President-elect who has the details of the debt stock chose to be economical with the truth and to mislead Nigerians just to discredit the current PDP-led administration and rationalize APC’s unpreparedness for governance,” the PDP said.
“Prof. Osinbajo is aware that the $63.7 billion is made up of external and domestic debts belonging not only to the Federal Government but to federal and state governments and accumulating since the 1960s, yet he deliberately misrepresented the facts to give the unsuspecting public the impression that the amount was exclusively incurred by the current Federal Government.
“Perhaps the Vice President-elect avoided the details so as not to expose the fact that the APC controlled Lagos state has both the highest external debt stock of $1,169, billion as well as the highest domestic debt stock of N278, 867 billion.
“Furthermore we find it unacceptable and unstatesmanly for the Vice President-elect to attempt to mislead Nigerians into believing that the total federal debt component was accumulated under the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration, when it is on record that a greater chunk of the amount was inherited”, the statement said.
The party said it was also on record that part of the contemporary borrowing from the domestic bond market was occasioned by the global economic and financial crisis as well as the downturn in crude oil revenue, which adversely affected other economies of the world.
Berating the in-coming administration for dwelling on excuses and reneging on campaign promises, the PDP wondered if the APC and the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari did not know about the economic challenges caused by the dwindling oil revenues before making their bogus promises to Nigerians.
“The APC must fulfill its promises for which Nigerians voted for them. Were they not aware of the debt stock and the dwindling oil revenues before making their huge promises to the people? Were the promises only intended as carrots to mislead the people and deceitfully win their votes after which they are dumped?” the PDP queried.
The party said the in-coming administration should stop contriving excuses and understand that Nigerians expect nothing short of the fulfillment of its campaign promises in its four years rule, especially given that the solid foundation for wealth creation has already been laid by the PDP, which also remained truthful and honest in making promises to the people during the campaigns.
The PDP said, “come June ending, the APC must be ready to commence in a very transparent manner, the payment of monthly N5,000 to 25 million poor Nigerians from across the country, monthly allowances for discharged but yet to be employed youth corps members as well as commence delivery of free meals to school children among other promises”.