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Okonjo-Iweala warns incoming Nigeria leaders of another debt trap

by Business News Report

Director- General of World Trade Organisation, WTO, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, has warned the incoming  set of Nigeria leaders to be mindful of acquiring huge debt profile for their various arms of government across the country. Speaking at the opening of the 2023 induction for Re-elected and elected governors with the theme: Governing for Impact (Building Sub-national Governance), organised by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), the former Finance Minister urged the governors to  invest in infrastructure, education and basic healthcare, and make concerted effort to pay teachers, healthcare workers and pensioners. Iweala also called on the various states to publish federation revenue allocation and IGI that accrue to them to earn citizens trust and keep them abreast of their finances. She said “we used to publish this information during my time as finance minister under President Obasanjo and Jonathan’s administrations, you must resume this practice so your citizens can have information to your account.

“Your Excellencies, Please watch your debt profiles and keep careful control of expenditure. Even as we invest in infrastructure, education and basic healthcare, please endeavour to pay teachers, healthcare workers.” Okonjo-Iweala, stressed that states have a substantial responsibility, noting that only few states are raising internally generated revenue of any significance. Also speaking at the event,  Tony Elumelu called on Nigerian leaders particularly governors of 36 States of the federation to empower young people for national development. Speaking on the theme, “Task of Nation Building,” Elumelu said that investment in young people is a guarantee for national transformation. He said, “the next generation is our hope for a better Nigeria. If we empower young people in our states and give them an enabling environment to grow, they will transform Nigeria.”

Speaking further, Iweala urged the Governors to figure out ways to increase internally generated revenue (IGR), saying this should go hand in hand with their share of the federal allocation, which she said is substantial, more transparently, efficiently and effectively. Iweala while  quoting  from an analysis of data from the National Bureau of Statistics, and state audited financial statements by the Budgit, which provides in-depth financial reports on country budgets helping citizens understand where their country’s money goes,  33 states relied on federal transfers for the majority of their revenue, for 13 of those states, the monthly impact allocations accounted for about 70% of revenue. According to her,  aggregated IGR from the the states did rise from N1.2 trillion in 2020 to N1.6 1 trillion in 2021. But this pales in comparison to FAAC allocations to state of N2.23 trillion in 2020 and 3.16 trillion in 2020. Okonjo-Iweala was the  finance minister under the Obasanjo’s administration and former Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, under the Jonathan’s administration.

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