As the tenure of the Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, edges to an end, there seems to be despair in the land, Solomon Ibharuneafe opines.
The great people of Edo are all worried over the colossal financial burden inflicted on them by the Adams Os hiomhole administration. Presently, the state is said to be indebted to the tune of over N200 billion.
A breakdown of the debt reveals that Oshiomhole took a N30 billion bond from the stock exchange, for the storm water project; N10 billion from the capital market, and three tranches of loan worth about $75 million each, that was alleged to be used to grow the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), and bring in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) among other promises. In addition to this domestic debt, is the huge external debt.
According to the current figure from the Debt management Office (DMO) in Lagos, Edo State is rated the fourth with the worst external debt profile out of the 36 states of Nigeria, with over $123 million hanging on the necks and heads of Edo people, coming closely to Lagos, Kaduna and Cross River states.
This figure is startling because with the massive debt, no new industries, hospitals, schools, airport, stadium, markets, library, laboratory or motor parks were delivered to the people as dividends of democracy. The roads and schools the governor kept showcasing are funded with counterpart funds and for want of better word being used as a channel to milk the state dry. To worsen the matter, no single employment was created in the almost 8 years of comrade Oshiomhole, one time president of the Nigeria labour congress, NLC.
The 10, 000 youths, employed some years ago in the Edo state youth empowerment scheme (YES), were fired after being used for his re-election.
Under Oshiomhole’s guard, local governments were brought to their knees as successive chairmen could no longer pay their workers, forcing the alleged forfeiture of their security votes monthly, while Oshiomhole collects much more for urgent security challenges. The government is said to owe judicial workers over 9 months salary arrears, while pension arrears, running into years remained unpaid.
All these massive debts are the result of financial irresponsibility through poorly conceived projects, without transparency and due process. Going by the recent figure from the federal ministry of finance, Edo state local council received N1, 217, 148, 336,65 (gross statutory allocation) and a net allocation of N1, 655, 710, 228.36 in the revenue allocation for the month of November, shared in December 2015. But the local councils cannot meet their contractual obligations to the workers.
Similarly, the state received a gross revenue allocation of N1, 744, 728, 505.82 and a net allocation of N1, 421, 203, 606.24, bringing the state’s share to N3, 185, 229, 510.36 (total gross amount) and N2, 142, 046, 560 (total net amount) for the month of November shared in December, 2015.
Out of this figure, the government paid out N30, 994, 228.04 for the external debt servicing , N520, 000, 000.00 as contractual obligation deduction and N492,188,722.17 as other deductions, totaling #1,043,182,950.21. This reveals that over 40% of the statutory allocation goes to debt servicing due to his poor financial management.
Concerned over the massive debt profile of the state, the opposition political figures are clearly saying that Oshiomhole has pledged the future of the state with no projects to show for the massive debt. They are more concerned that a state that receives less than N6 billion federal allocations could be paying out over N1 billion monthly for servicing loans that are not productive.
According to them, Edo state is committing over 40 per cent of its legal allocation into financing the governor’s spending, which is morbid to the financial strength of the state with no industries. The governor, troubled by this colossal debt-overhang, is said to have gone to the House of Assembly for approval to borrow more money as bail out running into billions of naira.
It is alleged that part of this bailout fund and the loan taken from the bank of industry for small and medium Enterprises, were not properly used. About N2 billion is likely to be released soon with Godwin Obaseki, Oshiomhole’s special candidate as chairman of the expenditure.
As part of the governor’s spending, he proposed and got the approval of the House of Assembly to establish another state university in his home town Iyamho, at a time the state is grumbling under massive domestic and external debt burden. In the meantime, the Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma is being starved of funds.
This was alleged to be responsible for the recent increase in school fees with over 100 per cent, thus making life awful for the students and their parents. Under this new school fees regime, medical students are now to pay N160, 000 as against N70, 000 while other students are to pay between N120, 000 and N140, 000 per session.
The people of Edo right away wonder what the governor does with these loans; how much he has repaid and how much is left unpaid; what structure or facility the governor has put in place to repay this huge debts, hanging on the necks of the Edo people; what he did with the legal allocation from the Federation Account running into more than N1 trillion over the years; and what happened to the internally generated revenue that he grew from about N500 million to the current over N2 billion monthly?
It will be recalled that when Oshiomhole came to power in November 2008, he made a public announcement that the state had been viciously lurched into huge financial debt by the 18 months administration of Prof. Osunbor. But that debt then was a trivial sum of N4 billion compared to the over N200 billion he is leaving behind for the state.
It is quite disheartening that Oshiomhole, who promised to put a stop to the anguish of the people over the years, has himself inflicted more hardship on them through his unpopular policies. Some of these include: the increase in school fees in the state tertiary institutions, the land use charge, huge personal income tax and various taxes that have driven most small scale businesses underground.
In the midst of these dwindling fortunes in the state, Oshiomhole is deep in appropriating a whooping sum of 10.65 billion naira to his office. And this is indeed quite appalling.