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Civil Society Sounds Alarm: Nigeria's Soaring Debt Threatens National Development

The statement from the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) expresses concern about the rising debt profile of Nigeria and several other West African countries. Here's a breakdown of the key points mentioned:

Rising Debt Profile: ANEEJ laments the increasing debt levels in Nigeria and other West African nations. It emphasizes that a significant portion of the resources of these countries is being used for servicing debts.

Debt Management Office's Publication: The Debt Management Office (DMO) in Abuja hosted the publication of a paper titled "Debt Management, Restructuring, and Sustainability in ECOWAS."

Statistics on Nigeria's Debt: According to the DMO, Nigeria's public debt stood at N87,379,401.75 trillion as of June 30, 2023.

Ghana's Debt Statistics: The statement also highlights that Ghana's public debt stock rose to 569.3 billion cedis ($49.7 billion) at the end of April 2023, according to figures obtained from the Bank of Ghana.

Impact of COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic is cited as a factor contributing to solvency and liquidity issues, particularly in the case of Sierra Leone, where the debt is categorized as having a high risk of debt distress.

Civil Society Concerns: ANEEJ expresses concern that the debt crisis is diverting resources away from basic social services, climate initiatives, and other development priorities. This, in turn, poses a threat to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement in West Africa.

World Poverty Capital: The statement notes that Nigeria remains the world poverty capital, as designated by the World Poverty Clock report of 2023. It suggests that the debt situation could drive more people in Nigeria and West Africa into extreme poverty if not addressed urgently.

International Conference on Special Drawing Rights: The Executive Director of ANEEJ, David Ugolor, spoke during a two-day International Hybrid Conference on Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) with the theme "Making Special Drawing Rights work for the People." The conference aims to explore ways to make SDRs benefit the people without exacerbating the debt crisis.

SDR Reallocation: The conference intends to review the use of SDRs in Ghana and Nigeria and discuss the possibility of reallocating SDRs to countries most in need without worsening the debt crisis.

Nations Listed in the Report: The report mentions 10 other West African nations facing similar debt challenges: Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. The information is sourced from a report published by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

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