The group said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that the position of the upper legislative chamber that a large chunk of the debt burden was inherited is a confirmation of what it has always said about the national debt.
“It is gratifying to hear the Senate through the chairman of its joint committee on finance, local debt and banking and finance, Solomon Adeola, providing more clarity on concerns raised by some federal lawmakers over the country’s total debt profile.
“While many people continue to have a field day criticising the President Muhammadu Buhari administration over its borrowing plan and the seemingly high debt servicing rate, the Senate is emphasizing that majority of the loans being repaid presently were accumulated from the times of the military through the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) years.
“It is against this background that we are reaffirming that the present adminstration inherited an accumulated national debt stock of $63bn or N23.9tn which it has started to service even at a period of low revenue because government is indeed a continuum.
“So the debt profile has increased to $87bn or N33tn as at June 2021 because the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration has added a debt of $24bn or N9.1tn to what it met on ground.
“But we make bold to say that even without the Buhari government adding anything to the inherited loan stock, the rising value of the dollar to the Naira has automatically been driving up the Naira equivalent of the national debt”, it added.
BMO however noted that the difference between the debt taken in the Buhari era and those accumulated in the PDP years is prudence and financial management.
“We noticed how the PDP and its sympathizers are always eager to play up the borrowing plan of the Buhari administration but what they are always silent about is what they left behind in May 2015.
“The former ruling party left a national debt of $63bn, a Joint Venture (JV) cash call debt of $6.8bn or N2.6tn owed International oil companies (IOCs) and a debt owed local contractors running into trillions of naira.
“This was in spite of earning $381.9bn or N144.7tn from crude sales alone between 2010 and May 2015 but Nigerians still struggled to understand why the then PDP administration still racked up a debt of $63bn with little or nothing to show for the huge funds generated.
“But any unbiased observer of the Buhari administration can easily see that the loans taken by this government are tied to specific projects including the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano express way, airport expansion projects and the Second Niger Bridge, amongst others which have either been delivered or are taking shape.
“It is also clear that the fresh $4.9b loan request sent to the National Assembly for approval has an addendum showing 15 projects designed to touch all the six geo-political zones so Buhari-era loans are neither opaque nor meant for frivolities”.