As Nigerians felicitated with one another on January 1, 2022, and celebrated the new year, each person owed N191,889.55 as their share of the country’s debt. It is the most each Nigerian would owe as a function of debt per capita (or debt per person) in 10 years.
From N45,173 owed by each Nigerian when January 2013 started, to N159,675 at the beginning of last year (2021), it became N191,889 when this year (2022) started, BusinessDay analysis of data on Nigeria’s debt shows.
Data released yesterday by the Debt Management Office (DMO), has shown that Nigeria’s total debt as at December 31, 2021, was N39.55 trillion. When this is divided by an estimated population of 206 million according to World Bank data, it gives N191,889.55 (earlier referenced), as a representation of what the debt per head, or debt per capita translates into. When non-Nigerians who are part of the population estimate are removed, the debt owed by every Nigerian would increase, at least theoretically.
Compared over a 10 year period (using data from 2012 to 2021), as the debt stock increases, so does what every Nigerian owes when all of the country’s debts (Federal, State and FCT) are divided per person. Debt per capita for a year is calculated as what was owed at the end of the previous year, which would be the opening debt stock for that year.
For instance, what each person owed at the beginning of 2022, is derived by dividing the complete debt stock at the end of 2021 (the previous) and the population estimate for that year.
At the end of (December) 2012, Nigeria’s total debt was N7.5 trillion, and with a World Bank population estimate of 167 million people, each Nigerian owed N45,173 as they started 2013 (in January).
At the beginning of 2014, Nigeria’s total debt stock had increased to N10 trillion, and with a World Bank population estimate of 171 million people, each Nigerian owed N58,486 at the beginning of that year.
When 2015 started, Nigeria was owing N11.2 trillion, and with a population estimate of 176 million people, each Nigerian was equally owing N63,734.
Read also: Nigeria’s debt hits N39trn, says DMO
When the year 2016 kicked off, Nigeria was owing N12.6 trillion, out of which each Nigerian owed N69,580 based on a population of 181 million.
By the beginning of 2017, the debt stock had its first major jump to N17.3 trillion, and by that year, each Nigerian’s debt became N93,353, with a population estimate of 185 million people.
The debt stock quickened by the beginning of 2018, reaching N21.7 trillion and by that year, each Nigerian’s debt crossed six digits to become N113,823 based on a population of 190 million people.
When 2019 began, the debt had increased to N24.3 trillion, and each Nigerian owed N124,503. The population estimate was 195 million people.
At the beginning of 2020, the pandemic year, Nigeria was owing N27.4 trillion, and with a population estimate of 200 million, each Nigerian owed N136,349.
By the beginning of 2021, Nigeria’s debt had increased (yet again) to N32.9 trillion. This implies that at the start of last year, each Nigerian owed N159,675 based on a population of 206 million people.
The same population estimate of 206 million (the last available estimate from the World Bank at the time of this report), was also used to calculate the debt stock at the end of 2021, which then gives the value for when 2022 began.
The country’s ballooning debt stock has been a source of concern in recent years, with several commentators warning of a potential debt trap, which future generations may be saddled with and arguable benefits to be seen from the rapidly increasing borrowing.