Covid-19: AU seeks debt forgiveness for Nigeria

By Kunle Osho
 President Muhammadu Buhari

China, France, Japan and India have been urged by the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC) Nigeria Office to write off Nigeria’s debt or allow a two-year moratorium on repayments.

AU ECOSOCC also applauded the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for granting a relief to 25 nations under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to tackle the novel coronavirus.

The AU agency’s Nigeria Representative, Oba Olasunkanmi, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, explained that as major lenders, they should follow suit by giving similar reprieve to the Federal Government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Certainly, this will further assist the benefiting countries to significantly cushion the impact of the dreaded disease on their economies. Nigeria, at this time, needs support to enable it recover from the financial impact.”

The organisation noted that it would be difficult for the nation to service the debts in the face of the economic realities imposed by the virus, as the United Nations had projected that the world would need $1 trillion for continual existence.

AU went on: “Nigeria needs China’s support at this trying time, with the long and fruitful bilateral relationship between both countries which has led to Nigerian government owing China the debt of about $3.2 billion.

“We are being faithful in payment of servicing charges. In 2019, Nigeria paid $138.8 million (N53.7billion) to EXIM Bank of China in settlement, the highest amount paid to any bilateral institution for the year.”

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