From Obasanjo to Buhari… how FG’s debt profile surged 658% to N26.9trn in 21 years

Country/area: Nigeria

Organisation: TheCable

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 31/07/2021

Credit: Aderemi Ojekunle


Aderemi Ojekunle: Aderemi works with TheCable, one of Nigeria’s top news platforms. He has written stories to track hidden figures in the NNPC audited statements and how the state-owned oil firm can further embrace accountability. Aderemi was also part of the very few journalists who tracked the Nigerian Government’s COVID-19 spending during the wake of the pandemic. 

Heis interests cut across financial markets, economy, taxes, and government securities.

Project description:

Using infographics, the report looks at Nigeria’s public debt and how it has been on the rise. Despite securing debt relief during the Former President Olusegun Obasanjo-led administration, successive governments have continued on a borrowing spree — the federal government’s component of the public debt surging 658 percent to N26.9 trillion in the last 21 years.

Impact reached:

Using data from the Debt Management Office (DMO) and other sources, the report helped shape discussions on how much each successive government borrowed since the return to democratic rules in 1999. 

Findings also highlighted how Nigeria’s aggressive borrowing defies fiscal responsibility laws.

Techniques/technologies used:

I employed the use of FOI, open data and infographics to accomplish the report.

Freedom of information (FOI) was used to get hidden data and facts about contending Nigeria’s debt figures.

Open data was handy in analysing previous government’s borrowings with the current

Infographics helps to picturise the report and explain it in details 


What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part from crunching the numbers, converting local debt rates to foreign currencies especially in a country where the exchange rate fluctuates.


The report solves many challenges associated with fake news and irregular data on debt level and debt crises in Africa’s largest economy. It also help citizens and investors to make informed decisions as regards Nigeria’s debt profile. 

What can others learn from this project?

How to use open data sources and FOI in storytelling and the use of infographics in making reports richer.

Project links: