Gombe State government yesterday spurned allegation of unnecessary borrowing, saying it is the handiwork of some unpatriotic elements within and outside the state who have been suffering from sleepless nights over the achievements of the Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya administration in just two years in office.
It said rather, the current administration inherited an almost empty treasury and huge debt burden of over N124 billion.
The state government reacted yesterday to a press release by a group, Gombe Good Leadership Association entitled “A Call to Stop the Gombe State Borrowing Governor from Mortgaging the State.”
In statement signed by the commissioner for information and culture, Julius Ishaya Lepes, the state government said it became necessary to put the records straight and present the facts to the people of Gombe and other Nigerians on the state of its finances, following “the recent proxy attacks on the current administration, one whose achievements in just a little over two years of its existence, have been giving some unpatriotic elements in the state and beyond sleepless nights.”
Lepes said some persons are using every means to blackmail the state government, particularly Governor Yahaya whose performance has gone beyond their imagination.
He said, “This could only be the handiwork of those who have lost relevance in the politics and scheme of things in Gombe State and have therefore chosen to take the path of perdition. However, their days of mischief are numbered, and the good people of Gombe State know who they are.
“Any attempt to hide under any guise will not work as their identities are well known. It is rather a pity that some faceless groups suddenly sprang up all in the name of attacking the Gombe State government. Soon, we shall unmask the sponsors and shame them in the public.
“Upon assumption of office, the administration was confronted with an empty treasury and a burden of over N124 billion in Loans/Bonds, Pension/Gratuity arrears and contractors’ liabilities,” he said.
The state government said cumulatively, while the Yahaya administration pays N900.4million monthly to some service inherited facilities, it is even more worrisome that “these loans were not utilised by the previous administration for the purposes they were obtained.
“Due to its determination and the desire to uplift the living conditions of our senior citizens, the current administration has cleared over N2.4 billion gratuity arrears and is still poised to pay another tranche by December 2021.
“The inherited bonds raised by the past administration cumulatively in the sum of 25bn as earlier mentioned for infrastructure were spent without completing most of the projects,” the commissioner added.
He listed some of the projects to include Mega Motor Park at the cost of N6,028 billion and 37 per cent completion rate; International Conference Centre, N4.282 billion with 80 per cent completion, School of Nursing, Dukku, N2,274 billion, with 45 per cent completion, among others.
Lepes further said all the projects initiated by the past administration between 2012 and 2013 were not completed at the time the administration handed over in 2019, giving credence to the fact most of the funds were either misappropriated or misapplied.
“This goes to show the recklessness and cluelessness of the past administration. These projects need to be completed otherwise they will be left to rot away thereby losing all the funds while the present administration contends with paying the bond holders.
“Already, the Mega Motor Park is costing the state about N3 billion to complete. The nagging question for all to answer, therefore, is how do we complete these projects and save the state from colossal loss, especially with the economic downturn occasioned by the Covid 19 pandemic and its debilitating effects. A well thought out robust financial plan becomes inevitable.”
He said despite the economic depression that has led to the devaluation of the naira and heightened inflation, the Yahaya administration has been able to meet its obligations and is executing meaningful projects that are impacting positively on the lives of the citizenry.
The commissioner added that prior to Inuwa’s administration, between 2016 and 2019, the 11 local government areas had to borrow N1.3 billion monthly to pay salaries.