*Our debt not N78bn- Abia Govt
By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA— GOVERNOR Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has borrowed a total of N24 billion since he assumed office 11 months ago.
This was made up of a N14.1 billion bail-out fund and another N10 billion which government sources said was for infrastructural development.
Meanwhile, the Abia State Government has said that its debt profile was not up to N78 billion as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, which also placed the state as the 5th highest indebted states in the country.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Obinna Oriaku, disclosed this while reacting to the statistics released by NBS insisting that the figures given by the Bureau were inaccurate.
According to him, the state government has engaged a team of consultants, who are currently working to reconcile the financial position of the state.
“Well, I am yet to see the document. I totally disagreed with the figures they are mentioning and our rating. If I heard you right, you mentioned N78billion, it is totally unacceptable and I doubt where they got that from.
“Though government is a continuum, from the period we took over, I want to believe that these figures are wrong. For what we got as bailout was N14.1billion, what we got of course was uniform to every state. What we got from the excess crude was N10 billion which makes a total of N24 billion.
“This is the major make up of our debt, then of course, this does not exclude other little debts by way of foreign loans incurred by the last administration or during the period we were at the old Imo State.
“As I talk to you, we have engaged a team of consultants that are working on reconciling those figures with the DMO and they have made substantial progress.Any moment from now, we will be engaging the DMO based on the deductions from the Federal Allocation Account.
“I strongly believe that at the end of the engagement, we will have some more funds that will be rededicated to us. We have fully extinguished those foreign loans. If I am looking at that figure, it is totally unacceptable, however, like I told you, I am yet to see the document then we will know the make-up” Oriaku said.