Nigeria sounds foreign debt warning

Nigeria, Africa's most-indebted nation, may take unilateral action to deal with its $35 billion in foreign arrears owed to rich countries.

    President Obasanjo: Donors must waive Nigeria's foreign debt

    Last week, Nigeria's lower chamber of parliament passed a nonbinding resolution demanding Nigeria stop repaying its foreign debt.

    In remarks published on Sunday, President Olusegun Obasanjo said his country would continue to negotiate with foreign creditors.

    "There are options we can pursue at the multilateral and bilateral levels, but if all that fails, then we can resort to unilateral action," he said in comments published on Sunday in Nigeria's This Day newspaper.

    Obasanjo spokesman Femi Fani-Kayode confirmed the remarks on Sunday in Lagos, but wouldn't expand on them.

    Pressed whether Obasanjo's words amounted to warning Nigeria could stop paying foreign debt, Fani-Kayode said: "I think [Obasanjo's] words speak for themselves."

    Obasanjo has campaigned for debt forgiveness for Nigeria, but
    international donors remain wary, unconvinced that enough is being done nationwide to fight corruption in the world's seventh-largest oil exporter.

    'People impatient'

    The Nigerian president made the comments "to show how difficult things have been for us in trying to pay back our debt," Fani-Kayode said. "We've done our very best and our people are becoming increasingly impatient in working with this difficult situation."

    Corruption and bad governance
    have stymied economic growth

    A report released on Friday by British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa backed moves towards 100% debt relief for African nations.

    More than three-quarters of Nigeria's debt is owed to the Paris Club of creditor nations, with former colonial ruler Britain the top creditor, owed $7.7 billion.

    Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with over 130 million inhabitants, has the largest external debt on the continent. It is followed by Egypt, which has a $31 billion foreign debt.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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