By Adeola Badru
FOLLOWING the claim by Governor Seyi Makinde that Oyo State was indebted to the tune of N150 billion, political appointees who served under the immediate-past administration on Friday, have exonerated former Governor Abiola Ajimobi, disclosing that the debt incurred by the state during his administration was N90 billion.
The former political appointees, led by a former Commissioner for Education, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela, during a press conference with journalists at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Center, Iyaganku, Ibadan, described Makinde’s claim as a “false allegation which has been confirmed to be incorrect.”
They said that the total debt incurred by the immediate-past administration was a little over N90 billion.
Their statement reads: “Not only that the present administration had also falsely alleged that the state had a debt profile of N150 billion, which has been confirmed to be incorrect.”
“The National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) and the Debt Management Office(DMO), put a lie to this. Total Domestic Borrowings at end of the Ajimobi Administration was just over N90bn, of which about 35% constituted Provisions for arrears of Pensions and Gratuities of Civil Servants.”
Giving details of how the debts were incurred, they stated: “The remainder of the amount was made up of bailouts and interventions extended by the Federal Government to all states of Nigeria, to assist government to alleviate pains experienced by the populace as a result of the global economic depression and the fall in oil prices.”
“These include N18 billion Salary Bailout of 2015, N10 billion infrastructure loan and N18 billion Budget Support Facility. The debt amount also included an N4.3 billion provision for Salary, which had since been paid.”
“The actual government borrowings were the State Capital Bond of N3 billion (almost since paid down) and N8 billion Commercial Bank Loan (which had been converted into a Bond by the Federal Government).”
“Going further, a bulk of the debt is tied to the $200 million (N72 billion) loan from the World Bank which makes up the so-called debt profile.”
It was, however, observed that DMO figures released in June 2019 showed that as of March 31, 2019, Oyo State domestic debt profile stood at N94.1 billion. It is yet to be confirmed if the state government incurred any debt between April and May 2019.
The appointees also slammed the current administration in the state over the allegations that they took away official vehicles belonging to the state government.
They describe the statement credited to the government that vehicles have been recovered from some sides and political office holders as “orchestrated campaigns of calumny and cheap propaganda aimed at rubbishing the well-known giant achievements of the Ajimobi administration.”
They posed four questions to challenge the present administration as follows:
1) Which mechanic workshop the vehicles were recovered from?
2) Who took such vehicles to the mechanic workshop?
3) Was there no documentation given to the mechanic when the vehicles were received? If there were documentations, then they should tell the whole world the circumstances that led to the vehicles being in the workshop?
4) When were the vehicles taken to the workshops?
Olowofela accused the government of empowering touts to be going around mechanic workshops, waylaying and picking up vehicles alleged to have been taken away.
He also said they discovered that some government apologists were behind the smear campaign naming one Olopoeniyan as a prominent member.
The former commissioner for education in the state advised the administration to desist from the deliberate campaign of calumny, saying it could lead to the breakdown of law and order in the state.
He added that the administration should “squarely face the serious task of governance instead of embarking on the mundane attempt to malign his predecessor in office and paint him and his aides in bad light among the populace.”
Others at the briefing are the state Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress(APC), Dr Olatunde Azeez and former Special Adviser to Governor Ajimobi on Communication and Strategy, Bolaji Tunji.