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House loan approval generates controversy in Plateau

Some residents of Jos, Plateau, have criticised the Plateau State House of Assembly’s approval of a N1 billion-loan request by the executive arm of the government for stadium project.

Plateau State House of Assembly

The residents said on Sunday in Jos that the hasty attitude of the assembly in the approval portrayed it as a mere “rubber stamp” of the executive.

The house had given its nod to the government’s request to access a loan facility from a bank for the roofing and completion of some critical components at the ultra modern stadium in Jos.

House Majority Leader Henry Yunkwap, however, said the loan package was due to the recent performance of the Plateau United Football Club, which necessitated the need to complete the stadium.

Yunkwap said that the team had started going international, hence the need to give the stadium a face lift to meet standard that would attract international matches to be played on the pitch.

But Minority Leader Daniel Dem queried the loan request which he said was not captured in 2018 budget recently passed into law by the assembly and assented to by the governor.

Dem said that the debt profile of the state stood at over N200 billion and warned against collecting additional loan that would further tie the state to creditors.

Mr Jacob Pwakim, a public affairs commentator, said completion of the stadium was not the state’s priority at the moment; hence attaching a request to it was unnecessary.

Pwakim blamed the legislators for giving the governor the permission to access the loan without subjecting the request to intense debate at plenary as well as taking it to the public for scrutiny.

“At the moment, I don’t think the completion of the ultra modern stadium is our priority or the most pressing need of our people.

“And for the fact that it was not captured in the 2018 budget raises a lot of question if really this government is accountable.

“The state is already indebted to the tune of N200 billion and collecting additional loan will only impoverish the state further and subject it to a more serious financial burden.

“So, to my mind collecting the facility is needless,” he said.

The commentator alleged that the lawmakers succeeded in approving a loan that would be used to finance the governors 2019 electioneering as against the reasons alluded.

Pwakim also accused the legislators as conspirators in the arrangements, adding that they would also be beneficiaries by the time the loan has been accessed.

“The fact is that 2019 is around the corner, and to my mind the governor wants this loan mainly to finance his re-election campaigns ahead of the forthcoming general elections.

“And because our legislators are charlatans, they approved this loan without subjecting it to a heated debate or even calling for a public hearing as it is done in some informed democracies,” he said.

A politician, Mr John Kele, expressed dismay over the approval of the loan request by the house and described it as “one too many”.

“I am pretty uncomfortable with the debt profile of the state because it keep soaring and this means that soon the state will be run basically on borrowed funds.

“I am not trying to downplay the need for us to have a befitting stadium of international standard, but without mincing words, I know too well that the immediate past regime in the state procured materials for the roofing of that stadium.

“These are some of the concerns I expected the House of Assembly to raise and be adequately convinced before approving the N1 billion-loan request,’’ he said. (NAN)


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