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FACTCHECK: Bayelsa govt claims it is least indebted in South-South, but that is false

THE Bayelsa government on Saturday said it remains the least indebted among the states of the South-South region, but The ICIR has found the claim to be inaccurate. The available fact indeed shows that Edo holds the record.

Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Commissioner for Information in Bayelsa who made the statement in Yenagoa did not, however, disclose the debt profile of the state.

He said the state’s debt profile as released by the Debt Management Office was moderate because of the frugality and judicious management of state resources by Gov. Seriake Dickson.

And several media reports have circulated the false claim.

The ICIR’s fact-check has however shown that Bayelsa domestic debt stock as at Dec.31, 2018 stood at N130.04 bn and ranks the 7th among the most indebted, according to figures on the Debt Management Office (DMO) website.

According to the DMO, for states in the South-South region, Delta was 2nd in the country with debt of N228,80 bn, Rivers 3rd with N225.59 bn debt, Akwa Ibom followed on the 4th position with N198.66 bn.

Source: DMO

Also, Cross River ranked 5th  on the list of the most highly indebted states in Nigeria with N167.955 while Bayelsa was ranked 7th with N130.04 bn while Edo was 8th on the list with N86.82 bn, the least indebted in the Niger Delta region.

Among all the 36 states including FCT, Yobe state is the least indebted state with a total debt of N27.7 billion followed by Katsina, N30.8 billion.

The commissioner said the government inherited a bond of N120 billion from the Chief Timipre Sylva-led Administration at inception in 2012 and would complete repayment in June.

The commissioner noted that Dickson should be commended for keeping the debt status of the state low in spite of the various big-ticket projects in the critical sectors that were successfully executed and ongoing in the state.

He recalled that the state government recently completed the Bayelsa International Cargo/Passenger Airport at a cost of N65 billion aside the multi-billion projects in education, health, agricultural sectors.

The commissioner said that Sylva and members of the APC who have been making false claims about the debt profile of the state had a responsibility to tell Bayelsa people what they did with the N120 bn loan they left behind.

“It is worthy of note that the Bayelsa still remains the least indebted state in the whole of the South-South region.

“This is in spite of the massive projection execution that has taken place since 2012 when the Restoration Government took over.

“The debt status of the state is modest because of the prudent and judicious management of state resources by the Governor in spite of the several completed development projects in the state.

“By this month, we will finish paying Chief Timipre Sylva’s bonds which is about N120 billion which of course, he didn’t use for anything.

“When such people make claims, they should be reminded that they have a duty to tell Bayelsans what they did with N120 billion they foisted on the state,” Iworiso-Markson said.

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