From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took on the state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, on Monday over his claim last week that the federal government had printed about N60 billion to augment allocation to states for the month of March.
Governor Obaseki had warned that by December, the country’s total borrowing would be in excess of 15 to 16 trillion.
The governor had also warned that funds accruing to the federal government may nosedive and states might find it difficult to receive monthly federal allocations.
‘In another year or so, where will we find this money that we give to Abuja to share every month? Last month, we got FAAC for March. The federal government printed an additional 50 to 60 billion to top-up for us to share,’ the Edo governor had disclosed, alleging that Nigerians may soon find themselves in a similar situation to Argentina.
Responding to the remarks, the Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the APC, Col David Imuse, in a statement described Governor Obaseki’s claims as ‘spurious, alarmist, untrue and wicked,’ adding that the claims were laughable, unwarranted and unfounded, and that ‘the situation is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.’
‘The true position is that under Governor Obaseki’s watch, the economy of Edo State is in dire straits with the governor bereft of ideas about how to get it out, with a foreign debt of $300 million and a domestic debt including loans from commercial banks, the capital market, and other doubtful sources, approaching N120 billion as at March this year, for non-existent projects,’ the APC statement said.
‘In the past seven months, Governor Obaseki has plunged Edo state into higher debts by taking more loans which has seen a 67 per cent increase in its debt profile. Edo State under Governor Obaseki has overtaken Rivers State as the state with the highest foreign and domestic debt in South-South Nigeria, and is on a steady course to displace Lagos as Nigeria’s most indebted State,’ Col Imuse alleged.
He added that Edo State now spends more money servicing debts than on education, healthcare and infrastructure without a state cabinet and an aged public service, whereas other states are working assiduously at reducing the debt burden on their citizens.
‘Some state governments have embarked on the reduction of their domestic debts as of the end of September 2020 according to the Debt Management Office which lists Kogi state government as having reduced the state debt from a cumulative N132.5 billion it was as of December 31, 2019, to N73,314,904,696.35,’ the APC Chairman said.
According to Col Imuse, Governor Obaseki is holding tenaciously to straws by personalising his criticism of the Nigerian government, and urged the governor not to hide under the title of Investment Banker to earn cheap fame.
He admonished Governor Obaseki to ‘use the fora created by the National Economic Council, the Nigerian Governors forum and the Nigerian Economic Summit, of which he is a member to offer useful ideas, if he has any, rather than singling himself out for paediatric applause, because the management of Nigeria’s economy is not just the responsibility of one person, but that of the Nigerian government, of which he is a part.’