Servicing external debt with all our revenues not tenable – Tinubu

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By Williams Anuku

President Bola Tinubu has decried the futility of servicing Nigeria’s external debt profile with 90% of the country’s revenue base, saying it is a simple path to destruction and, hence, not sustainable.

His comments came in an apparent move to justify his ongoing economic reforms, declaring that Nigeria will not sustain a failed economic theory that leads to the wastage of 90% of its scarce revenue in the servicing of external debts in the midst of the many development challenges facing the country.

The President made the statement on Sunday in Abuja while declaring open the Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association at the Velodrome, Chief MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja.

While energising the gathering of 16,190 lawyers in attendance with an extemporaneous speech, President Tinubu stated that the prosperity Nigerians require will only occur once poverty is banished from society with the focused cooperation of Nigeria’s private sector leaders, many of whom were present at the opening ceremony.

“Can we continue to service external debts with 90% of our revenue? It is a path to destruction. It is not sustainable. We must make the very difficult changes that are necessary for our country to get up from slumber and be respected among the great nations of the world,” the President stated.

Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Getting it Right: Charting the Course for Nigeria’s Nation-Building,” the President stated that hard decisions must be made to set the country on a growth trajectory, despite the initial pains that meaningful reforms usually bring.

“We cannot have the country we desire without the reforms we have initiated. It is painful at the beginning, in the short and medium term, but we must do what we have to do to take this nation to its great destiny. It is not about you, and it is not about me. It is about our generations yet unborn, for whom we must bequeath a great and prosperous country,” he affirmed.

Against the backdrop of the renowned judicial reforms he undertook as Lagos State Governor, President Tinubu renewed his commitment to deal conclusively with the pressing issue of remuneration for judicial officers and legal practitioners, noting that true justice reform must begin with world-class salaries and benefits for legal professionals in Nigeria.

“You are learned. I want to learn. Why are we so blessed, yet we are still lacking? We must have a change of attitude and a change of mindset. We accuse our nation and its previous leaders. We complain a lot about the past. Is that the solution? No. Let us look forward and be determined! God has given us what we need. We must work hard with determination to make our country great, and it begins with you, who are seated here with me,” the President said.

Referring to the keynote address delivered by the Chairman of UBA Plc and Heirs Holdings, Mr Tony Elumelu, whom he praised for setting an agenda for economic growth and development, President Tinubu bemoaned the inability of the country to eradicate poverty and tackle poor electricity supply, despite Nigeria’s abundance of gas.

He made a commitment that his administration would ensure that Nigeria generates and distributes the electricity the economy requires to thrive.

“Yes, it is a shame not to have adequate electricity for the mass majority of homes in Nigeria and to power our industries. How can we address poverty without electricity? We can take many people out of poverty with an uninterrupted electricity supply. Poverty is not acceptable, and we must banish it,” President Tinubu concluded.

In his welcome address, NBA President Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, expressed NBA’s confidence in the ability of President Bola Tinubu to deliver good governance to Nigeria because of his pedigree and past track record of excellent performance in Lagos State, where he was the governor between 1999 and 2007.

“President Tinubu got it right in Lagos, and it is our considered expectation that as President of Nigeria, you will not only replicate your achievements in Lagos but surpass them for our country,” he said.

The conference was attended by the Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Lateef Fagbemi; Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike; Minister of Sports, Senator John Enoh; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; past NBA presidents; and many senior government officials.

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