Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO) says the federal government is accountable for 81 percent of the total debt owed externally by the country as at June 30, the end of the first half of the year 2018.
Nigeria’s external debt is estimated at $22 billion out of which $17.8 billion is accrued to the federal government while the combined debt portfolio by the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stands at $4.28 billion, representing 19 percent.
The debts are taken from institutions outside the country and must be paid back in the currency in which it is borrowed.
Of the combined states’ figure, Lagos State, the country’s commercial capital, has the highest foreign portfolio of $1.45 billion, or 33.88 percent of the states’ debts.
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Following Lagos in that sequence is Edo State, which stands at a distant second with external debt of $279 million.
Others are Kaduna, $232.9 million; Cross River, $193.7 million; Bauchi, $134.9 million and Enugu, $127.9 million.
The DMO listed other debtor states as Anambra, which is owing $107.4 million; Oyo, $106.34 million; Ogun, $105.3 million; Osun, $101.5 million and Abia, $100.2 million.
Others are Ekiti with a debt overhang of $97.9 million; Ondo $81.4 million; Rivers, $79.5 million; Ebonyi, $67.9 million; Kano, $65 million; Katsina, $64.7 million and Delta, $63.8 million.
The DMO said Imo incurred a debt of $61.2 million; Nassarawa, $61.4 million; Adamawa, $57.8 million; Niger, $55.7 million; and Bayelsa $57.2 million. Also in the foreign debt conundrum are Akwa Ibom with $48.3 million; Kebbi, $46.7 million; Kwara, $49.8 million and Sokoto $40.2 million.
Others are Kogi, with 32.37 million dollars; Jigawa, 32.80 million dollars; FCT, 32.83 million dollars; Zamfara, 34.2 million dollars; Benue, 34.7 million dollars and Gombe, 38.5 million dollars.
At the tail end of the debt profile is Taraba, with $22.1 million; Borno, $22.2 million; Yobe, with $28.4 million and Plateau with $29.6 million.
Patience Oniha, the director general of DMO, said the nation’s public debt stock as at June 30, increased marginally by 3.01 percent from that of December 2017.
“One of the beneficial outcomes is the rebalancing of the debt stock, the ratio of domestic debt to external debt inching towards the target of 60:40 and the target of 75:25 between long-term domestic debt and short-term domestic debt.
According to the figures for June 30 released by the DMO, the ratio between domestic and external debt stood at 70 to 30 compared to 73 to 27 in December 2017.
Oniha said the ratio of 60 to 40 was important to ensure that the nation was not 100 percent indebted externally and that it was also easier to raise money domestically.
She said the federal government has been borrowing from the external debt market to refinance maturing local debts because of the lower interest rates obtainable from foreign sources