Fact-checking Reno Omokri’s claim on Nigeria’s debt profile


A FORMER aide to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, on Wednesday, September 29, said Nigeria’s national debt as of 2015 was N12 trillion naira. 

This debt, he said under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, has shot up to N35 trillion.

He made the assertion via his social media handle while blaming the current administration for the current economic situation.

“In case you don’t know why the Naira is ₦575 to $1, and may soon become ₦1000 to $1, it is because Buhari has increased our total national debt from ₦12 trillion in 2015, to ₦35 trillion today,” the statement reads in part.

He also stated that the the naira is now less that the  Zimbabwean dollar.

The claim generated reactions on social media.


From the post two claims were deduced:

  1. Nigeria’s national debt in 2015 was N12 trillion but it rose to N35 trillion in 2021
  2. The Naira is less than  the Zimbabwean dollar.


Established on December 4, 2000, the Debt Management Office (DMO) of the Federal Government of Nigeria is responsible for managing and storing information regarding the country’s local and international debts.

The National Bureau of Statistics  (NBS) also collects data on national and state debts.

President Buhari was sworn into office for his first term as a democratic president in May 2015.

Debt profile 2015

The debt profile is released quarterly.

To ascertain the claim, the FactCheckHub checked through the website of the DMO, It showed that as at the second quarter of 2015 which was when Buhari just came into office Nigeria’s debt was an estimated N12.12 trillion or $63.8 billion  This is the grand total of the external debt stock (FG and States), domestic debt stock (FG) as well as the domestic debt of the states.

Nigeria Total Debt Profile as of June 30, 2015. Source: DMO

As of this period, the Central Bank (CBN) official exchange rate of a dollar to Naira was N196.95.

This figure was also reported by national dailies here.

Debt profile 2021

In June 2021, the DMO stated that the debt profile was an estimated N33.1 trillion or $87,239.12 billion. This figure it states was as the first quarter of the year, while a dollar exchanges for N379.5. The same figure was made public by the NBS.

The sum is an aggregate of accrued debts from the 36 states of the federation and the federal government.

As at when Omokri made the statement the CBN dollar to naira exchange rate was N410.3, which if used to convert the external debt $87,239.12 billion to naira gives an estimated N35.7 trillion.

Though, the federal government has sought to borrow more funds since the time the last debt profile was released to the public. In July, the Senate approved $8.4 billion and 490 million Euros for the federal government as its external borrowing plan. Buhari further wrote to the lawmakers for another $4 billion and 71 million Euros.

However, the current debt profile posted by the DMO stands at $87,239.12 billion.

These make Omokri’s claim to be Mostly True.


Nigeria Total Debt Profile as of March 30, 2021. Source: DMO.

Is the Naira less than the Zimbabwean dollar?

While Zimbabwe’s official currency is the Zimbabwean Dollar, Nigeria’s is the Naira.

Conversion using  multiple currency converter’s places a Zimbabwean dollar at an estimated N1.13 kobo, this makes it higher than the Naira. Therefore, the claim is TRUE.

Since its introduction in 1980, the Zimbabwean dollar has undergone multiple changes in 2006, 2008, 2009 and in 2019 when it was introduced based on the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS).

Naira to Zimbabwean Dollar. Source: www.xe.com


The claim that Nigeria’s national debt in 2015 was N12 trillion but it rose to N35 trillion in 2021 is MOSTLY TRUE and the claim that the the Naira is less than  the Zimbabwean dollar is TRUE.


Update: The penultimate paragraph on changes in Zimbabwean dollar was added on 06/10/2021.

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