By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) -Nigeria’s lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a plan to restructure 23.7 trillion naira ($52 billion) in short-term loans due to the central bank to long-term debt, a day after the Senate gave its consent.

Nigerian government revenues are under pressure as oil production fell due to crude theft in the Niger Delta, forcing authorities to seek overdrafts from the central bank to plug growing deficits.

In December, President Muhammadu Buhari asked parliament to restructure the loans from the central bank.

The approval by both houses of parliament will enable Buhari to sign the bill into law before he leaves office this month after serving the maximum two terms.

A report by a Senate panel on Wednesday showed the money was used to support state governments and fund operations of the federal government, and recommended senators to agree to convert the loans to 40-year debt at 9% interest.

In January, the Debt Management Office said Nigeria’s total debt could rise to $172 billion after the loan-to-bond swap and new borrowings to fund the 2023 budget.

Official data shows that Nigeria spent more than 90% of its revenues on debt repayments last year, leaving little for education and health, but Buhari has said his government had no choice but to borrow its way out of two recessions in the last seven years.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)