From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin
Edo State, in Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta region owes about N12 billion, an official of the state government has stated.
Special Adviser to the governor on Media, Kassim Afegbua, disclosed this while reacting to accusations by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over the state’s indebtedness.
Afegbua said that the state owed between N11 billion and N12 billion adding that “there is no government all over the world that is self sustaining and without having recourse to certain borrowings to meet up its statutory obligations.”
“What is bad in borrowing is taking the money without using it. Since this government came on stream five years ago, we were servicing the debt inherited from the previous PDP government in the state,” said.
According to him, the state government took a bond specifically for the ongoing Benin water storm project and that Monthly “there is certain amount taken from the internally-generated revenue to service that debt.”
Afegbua was reactiong to accusations by the PDP chairman in Edo State, Dan Orbih, that the state government had given the people a true picture of it’s indebtedness.
Orbih had told newsmen in Benin that Oshiomhole had repeatedly denied that the state was indebted, but has gone ahead to set aside N20 billion in the 2014 budget for debt servicing.
He urged the governor to declare the debt profile of the state.
Orbih also described the claim by the government tjat it sacked 836 teachers as an”tissues of lies”, alleging that over 3,000 teachers were sacked without plans for fresh recruitment and that Oshiomhole was playing politics with the figure.
He also accused the state government of failing to fulfil the promises made to the stowaway boy, Ricky Daniel Ikhena, who was promised scholarship.
“Government did not fulfil the promise made to the family. People who wanted to help them stopped because they assumed they were being looked after by government. We also gathered that the mother is now sick,” he said.
However, Afegbua said the government never denied that the state was in debt and added that the stowaway boy, like several others on scholarship, was in the boarding house, adding that the boy was not abandoned.
He also insisted that only 836 teachers were sacked, adding that the decision was taken after the outcome of the evaluation carried out in respect of teachers recruitment, population, competence and qualification.