By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has urged the Senate and the House of Representatives to reject in its entirety, the proposed $75 million credit loan which amounts to N14.7 billion from the World Bank for Edo State, just as it warned that if granted, it would impoverish the state.
Speaking with Journalists yesterday in Abuja, Chairman, PDP, Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih who noted that this was not the time for what he termed endless borrowing against the backdrop that the state forms one of the most indebted states.
Also yesterday, two Senators from Edo State disagreed sharply on the proposed loan.
Speaking to Vanguard yesterday, the Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Francis Alimikhena, APC, Edo North described the loan as very important and time, just as he stressed that the previous ones have been useful and effectively executed in carrying out world bank projects in the state, warning that people should not play politics with the proposed loan.
But disagreeing with his colleague, Senator Matthew Uroghide, PDP Edo State stressed the need for verification of the previous tranche to ascertain if the loan was used properly and for what it was given it for, adding that Edo State cannot afford to go for such a loan now when it was presently groaning as it cannot pay salaries.
Also disagreeing with the proposed loan, Senator Clifford Ordia, PDP, Edo Central who opposed the request on the grounds that it will plunge the state into further indebtedness, stressed that if the loan was approved, it would raise the Edo State’s debt profile under Oshiomhole to N44.1 billion ($225m) in World Bank.
President Muhammadu Buhari had written to the Senate requesting for the approval to obtain a total of $75 million credit loan amounting to N14.7 billion from the World Bank for Edo State.
According to the president, the proposed loan facility of $ 75 million would be a second leg of a Development Policy Programme the World Bank had approved in 2012 which was a total sum of 225million dollars ( N44.1 billion ) to Edo state government designed to be implemented in three tranches of 75millon per annum.
Speaking further, Orbih who called on the national assembly to first verify what happened to the first tranche, said, “I want to call on the leadership of the Nigerian Senate to kindly reject the request for Mr. President to grant this money to the Edo state government. The issues that comes to mind at the mention of this loan are; what is the governor going to use this loan for? How has he utilized previous loans obtained by his government because you must look at what he has done with the previous facilities he has taken before considering offering him any new financial lifeline.
“Don’t forget not too long ago, he went to the capital market to obtain 35 billion loan for the Benin water storm project as we speak the only thing after paying out billions of naira in respect of that project all that is visible today in Benin city is the pool of stagnant water littered all over Benin city and the attendant emergence of what people now refer to as Oshiomhole mosquitoes, very stubborn and deadly mosquitoes that is what that project has brought to the city.
“There is nothing to show that the 35 billion which he took for the capital market for that particular project has been utilized. So what is he talking about 75 million dollar loan? In fact what the governor is asking the Senate to grant him permission to access is not up to what he collects as security votes for undisclosed security challenges, it is on record, the vouchers and related documents showing that Oshiomhole takes up to an average of 500 – 700 million every month for what he refers to as urgent security challenges, what these challenges are never disclosed and from the records available to us from the police headquarters Edo state since he came into power has never witnessed any major, urgent security challenges that will warrant the expenditure of 20 million in a month talk less of 500 – 700 million in a month.
” So we see this request by Oshiomhole presented to the Senate by the president as a request to further impoverish the good people of Edo state, to further drive the state into a bottomless pit of ineptness occasioned by his mismanagement and misappropriation of his government.We call on the leadership of the Senate to reject this request and it is time for all hands to be on deck to check the declining economic fortunes of this country. This is not time for needless borrowing by government and government institutions. So, I think what Edo people expect from the senate leadership is to reject this request.
“More so, it is coming from the means of a previous rejection by a minister, we are aware that the former minister of finance, that great lady of distinction had earlier reviewed this request, an informed position of a renounced economist. She analysed this request and rejected and declined to approve this request. Going through the back door now by way of request to the Senate is Oshiomhole’s antics of wanting to play smart, the world is now aware why Oshiomhole has be launching an attack on that woman of distinct, I think she can now laugh loud now that the actual reason for the recent uncontrolled attacks by Oshiomhole on her person is arising for this request which Oshiomhole made earlier which she turned down.
“That request was made when elections were approaching it was the last presidential, national assembly and state assembly election were approaching and it was turned down by Okonjo Iweala. Now that Edo people are gearing up for the governorship election in early 2016, he has presented it again, to me it is clear signal that Edo state is broke and I think rather than resorting to this financial palliatives that the new government to state government, the government should come out boldly to challenge some of these state governments, ask questions what they have done with the previous money granted them, allocations, excess crude account, IGR, they have various ways this government has generated money to say the list.
“Today I make bold to state that Edo state has borrowed so much in the past that for over 5 years now the people got into agreement that a particular sum should be deducted as funds anytime the state is receiving its allocation. It is sad to state here that for over 5 years, the sum of 520 million is being withdrawn as source as part of the mandatory obligation to institutions the state government has borrowed money from. When it became clear that the government on its own wasn’t prepared to service these debts the issue was brought to the attention of the former minister and a meeting was arranged where the state government agree that they withdraw 520 million to service previous loan.
“So if this loan is granted I am sure the state maybe giving up to 800 million on monthly basis to service all these numerous loans they have taken and it is really sad that there is nothing on ground in Edo state today to justify the huge debt profile of Edo state which is put at approximately 250 billion.
” These are figures that have continued to emerge from various quarters and the government hasn’t been bold enough to come out with the actual figure of our debt profile, but no one can take away the fact that the debt profile of Edo state is huge and unbearable because for over 5 years if they can be paying 520 million every month from source and from the information available to us that money will continue being deducted well after Oshiomhole has left office, it means we already have a very huge debt profile and I challenge the government to come out with all relevant document about the actual status of Edo state profile.”