By Amos Aar
BENUE State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has claimed that the Benue State Government has not secured the cancellation of debts owed the federal government and other agencies to the tune of N84 billion.
APC’s Director of Communications, Tersoo Kula, raised this concern Saturday in a statement.
Commissioner of Finance, Mr David Olofu, had told journalists on behalf of the state government after the State Executive Council meeting (SEC) on Monday that Benue was to benefit from N84 billion domestic debt relief from the federal government .
Olofu said the relief was the product of a debt swap from excess crude account and unauthorised deductions from all receipts that have accrued to the government from the federation account for recovery of all the federal government interventions in the state from 2015 to December last year.
But the APC’s Director of Communications has claimed that his party has carried out some checks at the Debts Management Office (DMO) which have revealed that there was such a proposal by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) “but it was dismissed on arrival when it was discovered that the proposal was ill-conceived. We therefore state here unequivocally that no debt(s) has either been swapped or cancelled for Benue state,” Kula said.
He further explained that the proposal by the NGF was not in good faith and is not genuinely advantageous to Benue state.
“This is because, some loans stated in that proposal, such as Agricultural Commercial Bank Loan, are not loans taken by the state governments. They are loans taken by individuals and companies owned by some governors and their associates like Oracle Farms. States only served as guarantors. This is the reality that clearly illustrates Benue State’s position in this connection, where Ortom used the state as a guarantor to access humongous amounts of money as loans for his personal empire building”, Kula alleged.
Mr Kula, who wondered how taxpayers money could be taken to pay loans that the citizens never took or benefitted from, challenged Governor Ortom and the Commissioner for Finance to make public details of the loans that they seek to swap.
The details requested by Tersoo Kula and his party include: the types of loan, when the loans were incurred, terms or conditions for the loans, what such money was used for, what were the terms and conditions for offsetting the loans, how much of the loans have been repaid; indicating the period for such repayments, and what debt the federal government owes the Benue State Government.